Hitman has been keeping gamers with a murderous bent entertained for twenty years. Each entry tweaks and refines the formula until you’re left with a perfected playground of death. Still, Agent 47 is nothing without the stunningly realised locations he inhabits. With the release of Hitman 3 earlier this year, I’ve been thinking of those maps that I’ll forever remember as being the zenith of sandbox assassination. So here are the top five locations in the Hitman franchise.
5. Paris – The Showstopper
Ah, gay Paree; what hasn’t already been said about the city of lights? Well, it’s an excellent location to stage a hit, for one thing.
Set against the backdrop of a stunning 18th-century mansion is 47’s most stylish whacking to date. The objective is simple enough; two targets, one a high-end fashion designer and another who sells state secrets to the highest bidder in the private suite on the top floor. These games are all about exploring and using your environment to your advantage, and Paris is a prime example. You could knock out the leading male model who happens to be bald with a chiselled jawline and infiltrate the auction as a prospective bidder.
Subtlety is often the best policy, so mapping your target’s movements and finding out he enjoys a tipple in the bar seem like a prime opportunity for a sly but public poisoning. Perhaps killing two targets with one bullet is the practical method. Lure both targets outside with a fireworks extravaganza and commence a murderous domino effect that will surely give the player a devilish chuckle.
4. New Orleans – The Murder of Crows
Mardi Gras attracts millions of tourists every year looking to enjoy some authentic southern hospitality and copious amounts of alcohol. Still, it also welcomes international assassins who can’t help but use the crowd of drunken revellers as useful camouflage.
Behind the party shenanigans is a dastardly plan to assassinate a politician, and only one hitman can foil the attempt. Three targets, all highly efficient killers, are on the hit list, but they are disguised to fit in with the parade, ironically as a Murder of Crows. Their whereabouts are unknown but not unknowable. Following a conspirator carrying a payment for the job will eventually place you on the doorstep of your marks – you know what to do from there.
On the other hand, you could hunt down each target one by one, slowly squeezing the life out of the assassination plot as you quietly garrotte them. Combined with the haunting soundtrack and the dark alleyways that crisscross the neon-light main streets, New Orleans makes for a spooky location for a deadly deed, a combination that explains why Hitman: Blood Money is so beloved by franchise fans.
3. Chongqing – End of an Era
In my review of Hitman 3, I described Chongqing as being “visual ASMR at its best”, and my opinion hasn’t changed.
Everything about this location is dripping in atmosphere from the pitter-patter of raindrops as they fall onto the puddle strewn ground or the buzz of neon lights that punctuate the night air. What makes Chongqing an engaging location is its verticality with will take you from an underground laboratory to the secluded rooftops that make for perfect sniper nests. The main objective consists of two assassinations that’ll require you to infiltrate well-guarded areas that will test your stealth techniques to the limits.
Like all missions, there are many challenges and feats to complete leading to very entertaining deaths. My personal favourite is playing the two targets against each other by shooting several drones out of the sky. Your actions will be blamed on a target called Hush, who has a rivalry with the other target. A skyline meeting is scheduled, and both seem utterly unaware that an explosive gas tank is in between them. One carefully placed bullet sends both targets to the land of eternal sleep.
2. Berlin – Apex Predator
Berlin is one of those locations that will make a Hitman sceptic into a fan.
While all levels have at least two or three objectives to complete, this large sandbox map has ten, if you’re talented enough to kill them all. Skulking around a dilapidated industrial zone, searching for ten individuals hidden within a crowd of hundreds seems complicated, but you’re not a typical assassin. The Berlin map exemplifies the franchise’s genius because it reminds the player that you are always the apex predator even in a place surrounded by professional killers. While a wild rave thrums around you, your targets have blended in, some as security, bikers and seemingly innocent party-goers.
The possibilities for murderous fun feel endless. The area is littered with precariously placed machinery, secluded rooftops and numerous poisoning opportunities. My personal favourite is knocking out a fast-food delivery driver and poisoning the food. The target is incredibly rude to you in the guise of the delivery boy, and it’s frankly enjoyable to see him get his final comeuppance – tip your delivery drivers, folks.
1. San Diego, California – A New Life
Hitman aficionados would’ve guessed this would appear on the list somewhere, but perhaps not first.
In my eyes, A New Life is as perfect a mission as any other in the franchise’s history. The setup is straight out of a comedy movie. An ex-mobster moves into in sleeping suburban neighbourhood in Southern California. It’s a bit like the 1990 movie My Blue Heaven, except with a far gorier ending. (If you haven’t seen the movie, give it try.) Ex drug lord Vinnie “slugger” Sinistra is living the good life in witness protection, but not for much longer. The mission: Kill Vinnie and retrieve the microfilm hidden in his wife’s necklace.
Fortunately, the criminal’s son is having a birthday party, and the special guest is a clown. However, this clown is about as funny as a heart attack, ironically what the coroner will believe Vinnie died from after you’ve disguised yourself and poisoned him. Once he’s taken care of, the real fun can begin. The wife is hanging around the backyard pool and enjoying the barbecue. She has to go, preferable by a gas explosion that rag dolls her into the pool, leaving the necklace there for the taking. This was just one example of completing this objective, but there are so many more. Perhaps it’s nostalgia on my part, but A New Life still stands as the most memorable location of the franchise.
There are so many locations that could’ve made this list. The Italian village of Sapienza, Las Vegas, and the Rocky Mountains’ snowy peaks are all great locations. Still, when I look back at the series, these are the maps that stay with me. They’re forever seared into my brain, whether through nostalgia or just how damn fun they are to explore and master. Make sure to share your favourite Hitman locations in the comments below.