Hitman: Codename 47 is the first in a series of severly overlooked and underrated
games that bring you into the world of a professional contract killer named simply
"47." The series has become widely known as "the thinking man's shooter" and for
very good reasons. It's not often you're going to be running into many places
armed to the teeth and Rambo'ing your way out and live to tell the tale. That's
not to say that it isn't possible, but it's certainly not the smartest approach. The
Hitman games want you to think out of the box a little. You pick your load out,
find your mark, dispose of him any way you see fit, and hopefully strut your
happy little bad ass bald self out of the place like you were there to take a
piss and nothing more. And there's a really awesome satisfaction you get when
you finally put together a method that works flawlessly.
As the game begins, you awaken in what appears to be a mental asylum and you're
guided through the place by an unknown voice who gives you all the tools you need
to make your escape. Once he's escaped, we catch up with Agent 47 one year later,
in Hong Kong getting ready to perform a routine hit for a client of unknown
origin. As the game progresses, 47 learns that the hits he's making may not
be as routine as he'd thought. And as he digs deeper, he begins learning more
and more about what's going on around him, and a bit about his own origins
through between-mission cutscenes and letters found on various marks. The story's
not any kind of literature that's gonna set the world ablaze with its striking
originality, but it gets the job done and helps to lay the foundation for the
rest of the series and builds a background for 47 himself.
Hitman: Codename 47 was released in late 2000 and sadly it does show its
age in a large number of ways. Instantly, you're going to notice that the
game looks really washed out and way too damn dark. There's no way to adjust
the contrast in-game either, so you're really stuck with what you've got and
the rainforest missions of the game really make this stand out the most. This
game doesn't look bad per-se, and it probably looked pretty good for the time
it came out, but the washed out and blurry textures of your environments are
really ugly today. Another thing that bothered me was that a lot of missions
take place in the same country and even though you may be in a different part
of that country or a different city, the surroundings and textures all repeat
giving them a little bit more of a cut and paste feeling than I felt
In-game character models do look decent however and the game does sport some
cool little graphical features for the time. Civillians and enemies alike
have a tendency to focus their attention on 47 by turning their heads
as he approaches or walks past them while they continue on their way. A cool
little effect that helps give the game a little life. Characters are decently
animated. Enough to look alive, but when combat sets in you won't be seeing much
other than a couple jerky steps to the left or right.
The music and sound effects are very nicely done. The soundtrack, provided by
Jesper Kyd (A full-time staple to the series) is very moody and never intrusive.
All selections fit the surroundings and mood perfectly whether you're shooting
it out with a coked-up Columbian drug lord or sneaking through the dank basement
of a Hong Kong hotel.
Sound effects are also nicely done with each weapon having
its own distinct firing sound. They're clean, crisp, and loud just like guns
should be. What do you want me to say? The voice acting is pretty bad, to be
honest. Even Agent 47 sounds very uncomfortable
in his role
and accents for foreign characters are
Now we come to the gameplay and it's a mixed bag of all kinds of good and bad.
By default, you play the game in third-person perspective with the camera
hovering right behind Mr. 47's big bald barcoded head. It's TOO damn close
to his head. So close that you really don't see anything BUT 47's head, so
animations like jumping from one ledge to another, assembling your sniper
rifle, or climing ladders look really strange when viewed this way. The
2nd view is a sort of Resident Evil-ish camera and whoever fucking thought
this would be good or even remotely helpful or interesting should have their
balls removed and plugged into their ears just for shits and giggles.
Once you come to terms with CRANIUM CAM it's time to struggle with the controls
a bit. The default controls are a fucking joke. I don't know what they were
smoking when they were writing the config file for this game and just banged
their head onto the keyboard for key assignments. It's completely uncomfortable
and unorthadox and makes little sense. If you can play this way, then kudos to
you, my friend, but give me my fucking WASD setup any day. You can select a
WASD default, but it still needs a hell of a lot of tweaking to become remotely
Once you're inserted into each mission it's a good idea to take in your surroundings
using your butt fugly map. It's too damn small and too vague to be of much use
and magnifying and scrolling it is way more complicated than it should be.
Thankfully though, most areas are small enough so that 5-10 minutes in you'll have
a pretty good idea of where everything's at.
Once you're familliar with your surroundings it's time to devise a method of
eliminating your target. 47 has a lot of tactics at his disposal, but by far
the most useful is killing someone and taking their clothes to blend in. Make
sure you hide those bodies too, because the AI patrols WILL find them and you'll
be under immediate suspicion. Agent 47 loves to play dress up, which is a shame
cause he has such a nice suit.
Once you're disguised figuring out what to do next can be tricky. Having an enemy
disguise isn't always a guarantee that you won't be detected, so changing clothes
often will definitely fit into your strategy at some point.
Sniping out targets, strangling them with piano wire, and slitting their throats
are all quite easily done, it's just figuring out how to get close enough to your
target to do so that may cause the problem. It's all or nothing in the world
of Hitman: Codename 47. There are no in-level saves, so if you fuck the
mission up, your happy ass is going back to the drawing board to try and
plan a different approach. You CAN continue a limited number of times after
you've died, but by then you've already fucked the mission beyond repair and
enemies are still going to know who you are so it's best to just reset
anyway. This trial and error approach may turn off some gamers as the difficulty
is quite high and you'll be re-doing a mission quite a bit before you
get it right.
Later in the game, the controls come back to bite you in the ass once again, though
and really come close to ruining what fun you were having. For whatever dumb-fuck
reason, the developers thought it a great idea to only let 47 run forward.
Surely if any of you twits have played ANY kind of tense shooter, you KNOW that
you need the ability to react quickly and move in all directions. IO Interactive
didn't really see the need. So when shit hits the fan around halfway through
the game and you absolutely HAVE to shoot your way out of a situation, the
controls come and fuck you right in the ass leaving poor little 47 bullet-ridden
and on his back faster than a $2 hooker. Selecting weapons is needlessly difficult
and there's just no way to do it quickly when you're in a situation and getting
your ass pelted with lead.
Seriously, run and gun does NOT WORK for this game. Clearing these missions feels
way too much like dumb luck and almost completely ruined the game for me.
Seriously, I've been shredded from 100% Health and 100% Armor to nothing in less
than 2 seconds. Thankfully by the 3/4 mark the game has shifted back to the
silent assassin-type gameplay and it manages to end on a good note. But FUCK
THOSE COLUMBIAN MISSIONS. FUCK THEM IN THEIR FUCKING DIRTY CRACK-WHORE ASS!
Hitman: Codename 47 brought a lot of really cool ideas to the table and helped
build the foundation for a very solid series. Unfortunately, that's about all
it did. Only about half of the ideas are executed properly. When it's good it's
really good, and when it's bad it'll almost kill the experience if you're not
persistent enough. Still, I can recommend this game to anyone looking for
something a smidge different than the norm, but I'd honestly suggest playing
later installments of the series before judging the whole series from just this