Hitman: Codename 47

aka: Hitman: Pagato per Uccidere, Hitman: Tueur à gages
Moby ID: 2797
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Description official descriptions

A third-person shooter that emphasizes stealth and tactical thinking, Hitman: Codename 47 is a mixture of action and puzzle gaming.

You play the mysterious, nameless Hitman, whose perfectly lean body and UPC-stamped head indicate a somewhat unnatural childhood. Waking up one day in a cell, you escape your imprisonment and are shortly contacted by the Agency, an organization as mysterious as yourself. Offering a job in what you do best (delivering death), you embark on a career as an assassin. But the shadow of your past creeps up on you...and the last thing an assassin needs is something creeping on him.

A 3D game done nearly entirely from the third person (first person is used for aiming certain weapons), Hitman may initially draw comparisons to the Tomb Raider series. Although you can play in such a mode, there is also another mode where the mouse is more free to roam. Reflections, muzzle flashes, bodies that obey physics and slump and fall when necessary, and impressive shadows attempt to make the world feel realistic.

A wide array of weaponry are available, from knives and piano wire to silenced pistols to sub-machine guns and even heavy machine guns. Although such weapons are available, stealth will be your friend. The A.I. reacts to shouts, gunfire, and other odd occurrences, sometimes even getting suspicious if you're running around and so silence and sneakiness are your two best allies. Take down lone guards, hide their bodies and steal their uniforms. Then move in closer to your kill. Multiple methods of completing most of the levels are available, although one or two are the most efficient and therefore earn you the most money.

Spellings

  • Hitman: Агент 47 - Russian spelling
  • 终极刺客: 代号47 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

110 People (98 developers, 12 thanks) · View all

Product Marketing Lead
Product Manager
Creative Manager
PR
Localisation Manager
QA-Manager
Tester
Translation
Special Thanks
  • Aloha Hermann! Thanks for your support!
Programming
Additional Programming
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 78% (based on 48 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 109 ratings with 10 reviews)

Close, but no cigar

The Good
A garrote may not be the best way to a man's heart, but at least it's clean and quiet.

The Bad
How do I save this thing? Oh, wait... I don't.

The Bottom Line
Hitman: Codename 47 is a game that created a bit of a controversy when it first arrived on the scene. While the idea of killing people had been part of the computer game experience for a very long time, HC47 went a step further than your average man-shooter. Here was a game where you weren't just killing people because they were your enemies, in kill or be killed scenarios. No, you were performing carefully planned assassinations because that was your job. It was a distinction that struck a chord with some gamers.

I'm not about to start arguing whether this was indeed a step too far in the wrong direction, but I am going to say that, personally, I don't have any moral qualms regarding this game. Partly it's because I simply don't let works of fiction, regardless of the medium they're in, get to me in such a way. More importantly, it's because, as far as I recall, the game doesn't actually reward you for killing civilians or police officers. In fact it penalizes you for it. What's more, your targets are very much of the criminal variety.

The missions you're presented with as 47, the titular character, aren't just individual set-pieces that you have to figure out and then perform to a certain degree of excellence in order to succeed in killing your target. They also form a narrative that slowly unfolds, shedding light on 47's mysterious past and origins. Without spoiling anything, it's enough to say that, while the story isn't terribly original, it proves to be mildly satisfying. And, hey, you get to visit quite a few countries not often portrayed in games.

Speaking of visiting... while good for the time, the graphics haven't exactly aged well. However I find that this to be true for most 3D games of this era, late 90s - early 00s, so you can't really fault the game for being a product of its era. The sound design is pretty good overall, though the voice acting is pretty insipid.

The levels themselves are well thought out, for the most part, and present all sorts of challenges for you to overcome. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately... more on this below) most levels aren't exactly long. As you might expect, as a hitman, it's best to kill your targets as quietly as possible, so the gameplay rewards being able to accomplish the task with as few "incidents" as possible. Any sort of extended firefight is counterproductive in this game.

The AI is good: civilians alert guards if they see something suspicious, enemies react to gunshots or to dead bodies, they call for backup etc. The game combines scripted sequences with reactive elements quite well. In it's day the AI would've been all the more impressive.

Unfortunately there is one major downside to this game and it pretty much ruined my enjoyment of the game: there are no saves in this game during missions. Not even checkpoints! You go in, you screw up... you start over. Slowly finding your way through a level, making a mistake near the end and having to repeat the whole thing... that to me is frustrating. I'm sure there are some gamers out there that enjoy this sort of challenge, but to me it quickly becomes an exercise in tediousness and repetitiousness. It's not a good sign when you start hoping that the next level will be a short one (they usually are). Even though this was obviously an intentional design decision, it's hard to forgive a PC game that doesn't have any sort of in world save.

The problem is compounded by the control scheme and the inventory system which often feel like they're forcing mistakes on you. One particular thing that irks me is that the game treats walking and running as two different things; in most games you use a key to alternate between walking and running. In HC47 there are two separate keys for walking/running, so if you're walking and you want to run, you must first release the walk button and then switch to the run button.

Worse than this is the inventory system which uses scrolling exclusively. There are no hotkeys for different weapons/items. This makes access to your inventory both slow and imprecise. You can get used to it, but it's still a bad system in a game where you have to be quick to react to changing situations.

If you can look beyond these problems, there's a good game underneath that can be very rewarding to people with plenty of patience. However, if you can't get past these things or if you're not a patient sort, you'll probably just quickly get frustrated with the game.

Windows · by Giu's Brain (503) · 2014

Excellent ideas but badly executed

The Good
The idea of being a hit man, assassin, murderer. Somewhy people tend to like being the bad guy. Here you are about as bad as you can get. You have absolutely no way to justify the acts you do in the game. You just kill for money and that's it. Althought how gruesome and wrong this might feel, it still, quite scarily, is FUN.

Most of the time you are playing this game as a puzzle game. This is emphasized with the lack of saved games. When you are committing a murder, there is no such thing as luck. Every single step, shot, crouch, door-opening, kill, at least should be planned before.

The game content, graphics and sound, are well done. They are not ground-breaking or superior to other games, but they get the job done. Special mention to the very life-like (yeah, right) bodies. And the camera work in in-game cinematics is just breathtaking. These guys should be making movies.

The Bad
The game's controls are awful. You have separate button for running, and it feels bad. Why didn't they do it in the standard way? Selecting your weapon and action is done like in Operation Flashpoint, with a little menu to select what you want to do. Unfortunately, you'll have to open the menu to see what you can do. And you must select an action before the menu closes and the menu is located in the middle of the screen, making all firing and aiming impossible. To make things even worse, I could not assign the mouse wheel to handle the menu, so it is even harder to get the right choice.

Also the lack of saving games in the middle of a mission is a bad mistake in a game like this. Althought it adds into the atmosphere of the game, it also makes it very hard even on the easiest difficulty setting.

While the camera works great in the cinematic sequences, your own head obscures the view in the game sometimes, further fustrating you.

The Bottom Line
This game starts off very promising and contains a lot of good ideas and excellent camera work, but is very flawed due to the bad controls and the lack of saving.

It is very hard to recommend this game, but I am sure that many people will love it. Just try before you buy.

Windows · by Aapo Koivuniemi (41) · 2002

Stealth and deception are your most useful weapons.

The Good
While there is a wide range of weapons available to you in this game, it's hardly a "shooter" - your path to success is paved with stealth, sharp observation, and careful planning. It's even more of a "sneaker" than the Thief series.

Enemies will watch you constantly, and if they study you long enough, they will remember you. If you do anything suspicious while they're watching (like, simply drawing a weapon, or killing someone) they will attack you, or run off to alert other enemies. The alert will spread like wildfire, so if you are caught, you have a short amount of time to take out the runner, before he can get to another enemy. Learning their behavior and patrol routes becomes vital; simply killing everyone will more than likely result in you failing your mission due to excessive "clean-up" costs. Besides, you'll almost always lose in a straight-out gunfight. Not only can you not dodge effectively, but you can't even jump. When drawing a gun is required, you must choose your targets wisely.

There is a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when you complete a mission in the cleanest possible manner (such as - not only sparing any innocent bystanders, but never being detected at all). It's possible to take out your target, and casually stroll away, past confused and alarmed enemies.

Another option for deception is stealing the uniform of a slain guard. The type of uniform you're wearing determines the areas you can enter in certain missions. Some of the uniforms available in the Hong Kong missions are amusing - "I am a Red Dragon Triad elite guard. Ignore, for the moment, that I'm a six-foot Westerner with a barcode tatooed on my head. Oh, and these aren't bullet-holes in my uniform, they're... um... cigarette burns."

But with that bit of humor aside, the ability to change your clothing is not only very useful, but also required. Not only do uniforms determine what areas you can enter in some missions, but they also determine what weapons you can wield openly (some weapons, like the AK-47 assault rifle, are too large to conceal). Studying your enemies' weapons is worthwhile - if a bunch of guards are wielding AK-47s, you can too. But you wouldn't want to run around in their uniform with, say, an Uzi equipped. That will certainly look suspicious.

The physics engine is also very well-implemented. Bodies are affected by gravity, so if you kill someone and decide to dispose of the body in a storm drain, you just need to dangle it over the edge, and it will slump into the hole. Dragging a body through a doorway, or around a corner, can sometimes be tricky - their feet may get stuck on a corner, and they slip out of your hands, costing you precious seconds. Hanging banners, and even Hitman's necktie are affected by wind, and your own movements.

If you're big on surges of adrenaline, there are more "close calls" in this game than I can count. Killing a guard, and dragging his body away to conceal it, and quickly putting on his uniform and holstering your weapon just before another guard wanders into sight is only one of many heart-pounding situations to be had in this game.

The Bad
The graphics seemed somewhat dated and blocky, even though the animation was very smooth.

The interface is very non-intuative, and you may end up redefining a number of keys. To start with, "R" is not Reload, as one may initially guess - it holsters your weapon. "1" is actually reload. The right-mouse button or spacebar brings up the "use" menu, and to select different options, the "G" and "T" keys are used to scroll up and down in menus (the manual says that you should use your mouse-wheel to select different options, but I don't have that type of mouse. It took random experimentation to figure out how to select different options). The manual is, unfortunately, very vague and unhelpful all-around.

Also, there is a high frustration factor. Whenever you fail a mission, you must start over from the very beginning; there is no save feature. While I suppose this could be chalked up to "realism", the game quickly starts losing its fun-factor when you're replaying the same mission from scratch for the Nth time - especially when you were just about to complete it the previous time (some of them are fairly long and involved).

I also wish it were possible to set additional challenges for myself. For example, when you purchase weapons and ammo at the start of each mission, you can decline to purchase any excess weaponry if you desire, and enter the mission with minimal equipment. On the missions where a gun was actually required, I would have liked the ability to purchase only one round per target, eliminating any margin for error. But, ammo is sold in entire clips only. One can't have everything, I suppose.

The Bottom Line
I would recommend this game to the "Thief-powergamer". You know, the type of person who plays Thief on the highest difficulty setting. Hitman is essentially the same experience, but I feel that it's more rewarding. A casual gamer (such as myself), on the other hand, may become a little frustrated at the need to restart lengthy missions from the beginning, whenever you fail.

Windows · by Dave Schenet (134) · 2001

[ View all 10 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
Guards' room in "Traditions of the Trade"? Daniel Saner (3503) Feb 15, 2013
Music in Windows Vista Daniel Saner (3503) Oct 2, 2008

Trivia

BPjS/BPjM index

On April 28, 2001, Hitman: Codename 47 was put on the infamous German index by the BPjS. For more information about what this means and to see a list of games sharing the same fate, take a look here: BPjS/BPjM indexed games.

Trivia originally contributed by Xoleras on 18.12.2005.

References

  • Pablo's line "Say hello to my little friend" is an obvious reference to the movie Scarface.
  • The entire setup of the third mission, "The Massacre at Cheung Chau Fish Restaurant", is extremely similar to a scene of The Godfather, with both the setup (negotiation in a restaurant with gangsters and police), as well as the execution (hiding a gun in the bathroom).

Trivia originally contributed by EboMike on 18.12.2003 and 08.06.2004.

Naked strippers

An earlier beta of the game featured the strippers found in the game with no clothes.

Trivia originally contributed by Zovni on 13.02.2001.

Real-world locations

In an interview with fansite HitmanHQ, lead animator Jens Peter Kurup of Io Interactive stated: "The different locations were either constructed with picture reference or by actually visiting the different places to get the atmosphere right. [...] The Hotel in Budapest actually exists [...], and some of the guys checked it out in details. Then it's modified to fit the gameplay."

The game's Thermal Bath Hotel Gallàrd in Budapest mentioned in the interview, as visited in the mission Traditions of the Trade, is inspired by real-world Danubius Hotel Gellért, also in Budapest.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Ray Soderlund.

Additional contributors: Zovni, Daniel Saner, tarmo888, Sciere, Stratege, CaesarZX.

Game added December 15, 2000. Last modified March 14, 2024.