With the recent release of HITMAN: Season 2, I’ve been reflecting on my history with the franchise. Beginning with Hitman 2 – Silent Assassin back on the PS2, I’ve played almost the entire series – I’ve sunk hundreds of hours into the franchise, doing everything from finding new and elaborate ways to bump off targets, to sneak-killing entire levels, to simply exploring or causing mayhem… So I’ve decided to cover my top 10 favourite Hitman locations from throughout the franchise, in no particular order, over the course of three articles… And I say locations over maps, because, well… Some places I’ve cheated a little, and included several maps in the same listing. You’ll see when you get to those entries.
Get ready. This is going to be a big one.
Also, a warning: the way I ended up writing things, entries tend to be both an overview, and a guide on best completing them in my opinion, so there will be some spoilers. I also wrote part of this list pre-Season 2 release, so there won’t be anything from there on this list. That being said, there’s just that many great maps in the franchise in general!
Sapienza, Italy – HITMAN – Season 1 (2016)
Caio bella! What a magnificent map this quiet little Italian town really is; located in scenic Campania, this fictional seaside village takes influence from other towns in the region, like Salerno and Amalfi. Infact, it’s quite reminiscent of nearby Vernazza. Everything in Sapienza’s design works to create the appropriate feel: The rustic buildings, the winding cobblestone laneways lined with little boutiques, the large plazas and ancient docks…This place feels old, authentic. And it is such a large level, especially in the ‘World of Tomorrow’ iteration. There’s the beachside, the church and graveyard, the sewers, the laneways, some shops throughout town, the old docks and the stores overlooking them, the town hall and gelateria, the hippy’s flat, the apartments, and all of that without even mentioning the expansive Caruso mansion and ETHER lab that lays beneath. I would wager that this is the absolute biggest map outside those stupid Japanese snow treks I’ll talk about in a later article, and better yet, it just has so very much in it. It’s absolutely filled with scenery and people.
Unlike a lot of the other entries, I won’t be focusing too much on the hit it – I mean, there’s four targets in total here, it’s just not practical. ‘World of Tomorrow’ tasks you with killing two brilliant scientists, and destroying their prototype DNA-targeting virus; ‘Landslide’ has you take out Mayoral candidate, Marco Abiatti, who plans to re-develop the quiet village; ‘The Icon’ has you kill actor Dino Bosco so that the film studio can get out of his obnoxious contract; ‘The Author’ has you kill author Craig Black and his cult associate before they can exchange a chemical virus that could kill thousands. The fact they re-used this map so often and yet changed each of those times that it still felt fresh is simply amazing.
I especially love how ‘World of Tomorrow’ and ‘Landslide’ in particular feel like they have so many options for great stealth kills; the designers went all out here. Take one of the scientists, Francesca DeSantis – You can pretend to be her boyfriend and trick her into drinking poisoned wine, you can disguise yourself as a PI and arrange a fateful meeting in a back alley, you can destroy the virus and lure her to the lab wherein you can activate safety protocols that’ll suffocate her, or you can even find an unmarked prototype of the virus you’re after that Caruso’s made to use against her just incase… And that’s only the quieter options for *one* target!
Whilst I haven’t played through very much of HITMAN 2 at time of writing, and a lot of people consider the next map on this list ‘the best’ of the franchise, I’m going to have to say that my personal pick for best map overall has to be Sapienza. It’s simply wonderful, and the foggy iteration from ‘The Author’, with the bats, is just aesthetically perfect. More of that especially, please!
Del Mar, California – Hitman: Blood Money
The Hitman level, if you go off the general community’s opinion. It really seems everyone loves this level, and it’s not hard to see why: It’s small, well designed, yet still reasonably challenging. Taking place in a small, gated community in southern California, ‘A New Life’ challenges players to execute a Cuban mafioso hiding in witness protection, and retrieve an incriminating microfilm from his wife’s necklace. It’s a mission that absolutely requires infiltration – Whilst you can be a dumbass and pop the target, Vinnie ‘Slugger’ Sinistra, through the front window as he’s watching TV, good luck getting to his wife and avoiding all the FBI and FBI back up afterwards.
No, you’ll have to work your way in on this one.
My personal favourite method was to run immediately to the vet home business right across from Vinnie’s house (Careful to dodge the sight of the snooping neighbour trimming her hedge), climb in through the back window, and pick up the vial of ether. You’d then sneak back out, and head towards the caterer’s van (Vinnie and his wife are planning a birthday party for their infant son, who is thankfully away from the house at the time). Using a sedative syringe, pump that pack of two donuts full, and wait for the caterer to deliver them to the surveillance van; the two FBI agents will go inside, eat the donuts, and pass out, allowing you to take one of their uniforms and disable the cameras at the same time.
Once inside the house, wait by the sauna for the wife to walk by. There’s only the one occasional guard, so you should be fine. Use that other syringe to take her out (Or use the human shield and knock out trick), drag her into the sauna, and take the film. Head up stairs, ether up Vinnie’s teenage daughter’s panties, and a creepy FBI agent will come sniff them and pass out. That’s going to be awkward for him to explain later… Take care of the other agent up there, and sneak into Vinnie’s office; take care of him when he snorts a line of coke off his desk, drag the body around the corner, knock out his bodyguard who is waiting outside, and leave. Easy done.
The level does, of course, have many alternative ways to infiltrate: You can snatch tranq darts from the vet and use them with the air rifle to bypass Vinnie’s dog; you can sneak in through the little alley at the side of Vinnie’s house, avoiding the camera and try to go in when the agent exits into the lane, or you could climb the drain pipe to the baby’s room on the second floor; you could knock out the caterer or the drunk clown when they’re outside and infiltrate that way. You could also kill the wife in a variety of accidents, such as shattering the glass ceiling over the pool when she goes for a swim, or sabotaging the BBQ – But as she’s not a target, doing either will harm your rating. She’s a flirtatious cheat however, so if you’re the caterer, the pool boy, or the clown, she’ll offer to go upstairs for some ‘fun’, and you can knock her out easily enough that way.
The map is well designed, and appropriately recreates a wealthy, secluded neighbourhood – The sort wrapped in ideas of the American Dream, where kids draw in chalk on the sidewalk and sprinklers go off for every house at the same time… And even in comparison to the rest of the lavish houses in the street, Vinnie’s house is large and beautiful, filled with details that make the place feels lived in. One issue this map does have, though, is that all the action really is in that house – You’ll rarely have to go to the backyard, and never need to go down into the basement, or even around the corner to the cul-de-sac. You start right next to where you need to go, and there’s no incentive to go elsewhere, unless you’re on a mayhem run trying to kill the level. In which case, you can always throw that perky jogger down the well, or feed people to the back of the garbage truck, or use that snoopy neighbour’s shears for some brutal kills – Be warned though that if the surveillance truck isn’t taken care of first, they will call in two limos worth of backup when the alert sounds. At any rate, this is definitely a classic level, and one fondly remembered by many a Hitman fan. IOI definitely knows this, too – The clown from this level, Corky, is a DLC costume for HITMAN – Season 1.
Budapest, Hungary – Hitman: Contracts
This Contracts level, like many in that title, is a remake of a Codename 47 mission, ‘Traditions of the Trade’. It carries the same name here, too. We emerge into the level as 47 knocking out someone near the Hotel Galar (Also colloquially known as The Thermal Bath Hotel, due to its famous pool). The hotel will be playing host to a UN Peace Summit in a few days, and Austrian-born terrorist, Franz Fuchs, plans to set off a chemical bomb at the event. He is currently staying at the hotel so that he may plant the device – and unlike the initial version of the mission, his brother and fellow terrorist, Fritz, is there too – personally delivering the bomb to his care. 47 is to kill the two and extract with the weapon so that the Peace Summit may go unhindered, suggesting that the client is related to the UN this time around.
The initial area before the hotel merely leads onto the main road, empty at this time of night – It’s open, barren, and it’s raining heavily, so you may as well head inside to where the rest of the level is. The guard outside will ask you to show ID, and frisks you – If you have no weapons, or have them stashed in a suitcase, you’re good to go (Getting the ID apparently being why you knocked out that guest earlier, I suppose). If you do have them though, expect to have them confiscated off you at the metal detector.
The foyer is pretty, but sparse; just a bunch of pillars, potted plants, and stairs leading to the second floor guest rooms. One of the PS2 era’s limitations, I guess. The check in counter is here too – Checking in as poor Mr. Metzger from before will allow you to learn where Franz’s room is (He’s using the pseudonym Mr. Wulff), as well as net you access to Metzger’s own room.
On the left of the foyer is the main dining room and kitchens, which are currently closed; the first floor guest wing has also been closed off, but for more unfortunate reasons. If you poke about, you can learn that the previous day a murder took place in one of the rooms – The hotel has been trying to get it sorted discreetly, so only the police and hotel guards have been allowed in the wing since. You don’t have to go there at all for the mission, but doing so can be an… Interesting experience. The warm light of the rest of the hotel is nowhere to be found here, and instead, everything is dark, and gloomy; wind billows through the curtains of the windows, mysteriously left open in this weather of all things. The gruesome murder room itself is at the end of the corridor, but the most interesting room is a few doors down in the middle of the hallway. Inside is a guard, apparently taking a break from his patrols, and cheekily using the bathroom shower. If you peer in the keyhole, you can notice him being startled and nervous – Go in, knock him out, and look in the mirror to see why.
Yep – right behind you is a g-g-g-ghost! You can’t see it in normal play, only in the mirrors of the first floor bathrooms – He’ll move between the suites. Amusingly, the entity reacts like other NPCs – If you shoot it, it’ll leave blood spatter, but the only way to ‘kill’ it is to choke it out. It’s a famous franchise easter egg, and a kind of silly one, when you think about it. Imagine all the ghosts 47’s left in his wake…
Anyway, you can take the guard’s uniform if you so like, or not. Either way, head to the second floor. On the right side of the hotel, there’s a hotel gift shop (Including a special box of roses, should you want to relive a famous movie scene), the lounge, and the presentation room which has been set up for the summit, but it’s the guest rooms on the right you’ll want to go to. Enter Metzger’s room, and head out to the balcony – Franz’s room is just down the hall, and you can leap from balcony to balcony without having to deal with the bodyguard or patrolling hotel security in the hallway itself. Be careful, though – The guard from Franz’s room will occasionally come out to the balcony, and there’s a woman in the room next door who likes to go out to smoke on hers, so you may have to pay attention to their schedules. Once you’ve cleared Franz’s room, take the key to the storage room on the third floor, and the suitcase – You’ll need that to house that chemical weapon, unless you want to cause a panic.
What’s that noise, though? It seems the shower is on – Peering in will show you ‘Mr. Wulff’ in all his glory, and he’s facing away from you, too. It’s hard to believe this guy is actually one of 47’s genetic fathers, but it is what it is. Take out Franz however you wish, and exit via the balconies once more.
But what about dear ‘uncle’ Fritz? Why, he’s relaxing in the hotel’s famous pool – He seems to have booked it completely, as hotel security and bodyguards won’t like your presence there… And I can’t blame him – the place looks amazing – and that water must feel invigorating. You can sneak into the changing room of your choice from the doorways on the main foyer stairs, and watch Franz bathe – When he buggers off to the sauna, I recommend you knock out patrolers. You can now either catch Fritz in the sauna, block the door, and break it so it steams him to death, or wait for him to return to the pool and relax in order to drown him. Either way, it’s the end of those Fuchs brothers, and now you just need to get that bomb.
If you read the notes next to the key back in Franz’ room, you’ll know it’s in Fritz’s suite on the third floor. Honestly, I’ve never understood this set up though – he is a dentist, yes, and a wealthy one, yes… But why the hell does this hotel, presumably unassociated with him, have a fully set up dental clinic on the *third floor*? Hotel Galar is based on the real world hotel, Hotel Gellért, but I’ve found out nothing about that place that suggests this is ‘a thing’ there, either. So I guess we’ll just have to accept the rather odd situation of a five-star hotel having a dental clinic that guests can book out. For ‘reasons’. Anyway…
You’ll ideally want to head up on the right side of the third floor, simply because it’ll be easier to get access to your destination from here. Head out onto the roof when no-one’s looking, skirt around the dome that overlooks the thermal bath, and you’ll come to the window of…*Sigh* the dental clinic. Now, if you don’t have any syringes left, worry not! The patrols in this room are very stiff, so it’s entirely possible to sneak by them without notice, if you time it well. Go into the dental clinic’s storage room, and take the bomb – Now you can leave to the front of the hotel, and take the car awaiting you out of the level.
I feel that this location is a fairly iconic one for the franchise. Everyone knows about the spooky ghost easter egg, the shotgun is fun for causing mayhem, and the drowning of Fritz in the thermal bath is a scene so well recalled it even appeared in the HITMAN trailer. The hotel is pleasant enough, sure, but that spooky wing, and the majestic glory of the thermal bath itself really take the cake. Really, my only issue with this place at all is that very silly dental clinic situation – But that aside, this truly is a well-remembered Hitman location for all the right reasons.
New Orleans, Louisiana – Hitman: Blood Money
The mission that takes place here – The Murder of Crows – covers a few blocks of a fictionalised version of New Orleans’ French Quarter, during the 2005 Mardi Gras celebrations. That being said, the date listed is October 25th – The real world Mardi Gras never takes place that late in the year, instead favouring January, February, or March. Whoops – Maybe this level was supposed to be placed earlier on in the game at one point? Anyway, whilst this is an assassination mission, it is only so by technicality – Your actual job is to protect Jimmy Cilley, former Louisiana Senator and current Secretary of the Interior, Jimmy Cilley. The client has learned that assassins plan to take him out during his ride on a Mardi Gras float, so has asked you to take care of them, first. They’re a small outfit of freelance assassins called The Crows, consisting of: former Olympic athlete and sniper, Raymond Kulinsky; circus performer turned field recon agent, Angelina Mason; and leader, the mysterious albino, Mark Purayah II (Who, considering his appearance and naming convention, is likely one of the Franchise’s imperfect clones – The Franchise being this title’s main antagonist, as I’ll go into about more in a later article).
You’ll start off in a lovely and surprisingly quiet hotel, watching the payment for the hit – The courier, a man in a red bird outfit (All Crow associates will be wearing bird outfits in an attempt to… Look less suspicious I guess) will take the briefcase of diamonds and start to head off. The Agency has no intel on where the assassins are, so he’s our only lead. The courier will get caught in a conversation with an old friend at the hotel’s reception, so feel free to let him go for now because he is so slow and meandering, it’s better to just wait for him elsewhere. There’s a member of The Crows upstairs seducing a woman if you really want a guard outfit, but you don’t need to pay that or the rest of this hotel any attention, really.
This level has the most NPCs in the game, and you can definitely see it – The streets outside are packed with revellers, police, and floats, including Mr. Cilley’s right outside where you start. You won’t need to worry about his safety for now though – They’re waiting on getting that briefcase before they go ahead with the hit. If you open your map, you can see that over on the right side of the area, there’s a cross-section of alleyways that meet in a large courtyard. Our courier friend will be along soon enough to stop and have a smoke. Knock him out, and dump his body in the dumpster he’s near immediately – Not only does a police officer occasionally wander through here, but so does one of our targets, Angelina Mason. Neither will take the scene kindly. Taking out the courier isn’t a mandatory step, but doing so will ensure Cilley’s safety for the rest of the mission – The only way he’d be in danger without payment is if either Mason or Kulinsky – lovers – discover the other has died. If they do, Kulinsky will take the shot when he sees Cilley regardless of payment, or Mason will lose it, board Cilley’s float, and slit his throat infront of a horrified crowd. So try to avoid that.
Wait for Ms. Mason to wander through, take her out, and dump her in one of the dumpsters or entrance ways into the surrounding apartments. Take her walkie talkie, and it’ll immediately inform you of where Kulinsky and Purayah II are – Purayah II is always in the same building, but Kulinsky can spawn in one of several locations: The upper floors of the Rock Bar, Blues Bar, or Jazz Club respectively. If he’s in the Rock Bar, you can even just climb into one of the apartments nearby via drainpipe, knock out the resident, and shoot Kulinsky from across the street (Mason has a silenced pistol if you didn’t bring one). Entering all the bars, otherwise, isn’t too difficult – In one of the places you’ll have to wait in a closet as two lovebirds finish a makeout session, but killing Kulinsky isn’t a hard task really. You’ll get there with enough patience.
There’s two ways you can get to Purayah afterwards – You can either go into his little building as the courier (With any weapons inside that briefcase of yours, as you’ll be frisked), or you can just pay a visit to the bookstore next door. If you go the later route, the owner of the store – surprised he’s getting business on this night of all nights – will offer to help 47, and follow him around as he ‘browses’. You’ll want to knock him out, or wait for him to lose interest in you and sneak upstairs (if he sees you, he’ll follow you up). It appears, by the boarded up door here, that these two buildings used to be directly connected – you can see through the gaps in the boards what appears to be Purayah’s office. He’s probably wandering about, occasionally trying to check in on the other two black birds via his walkie-talkie. You can shoot him with a silenced pistol for an easy kill… But there’s a guard that patrols the hall outside, and he sometimes pops in to check on things, so there’s a strong chance the body will be discovered before you can exit the level. Drats.
The other way – the courier entry – requires you to walk in through the side or front, either or, and proceed upstairs. That guardbird, on the banister? That’s who was going to spoil your day in the other route. Knock him out, and drag his body around the ledge near the door so the guy downstairs can’t accidentally see it. Enter the office – Purayah, if he sees you, will ask you to leave the payment on the desk. Leave his corpse on the floor instead. Take your suitcase, go get your suit, and you’ll hopefully get a nice Silent Assassin rank and an extra cash bonus from the case, too.
This level is certainly an interesting one. It’s very large, and has a good mix of very open, crowded spaces, as well as quiet behind-the-scenes ones too, and has a lot to explore, even if not all the areas are well utilised (AKA the alleyway the police are set up in and that initial hotel). The light fog, the loud music and cheer, all work to bring the famous New Orleans Mardi Gras to life, and the scenery itself feels authentic – French Colonial style buildings line the roads, their balconies strung with lights, dimly light signs advertising various Southern sounding businesses peer out from the fog… And even that little, empty courtyard is nice, too. Additionally, the random aspect of Kulinsky is appreciated, as it makes replaying the level a little different each time. 47’s trip to New Orleans is certainly one that’s stuck in my mind, even after all these years.
And so concludes the first part of this three-part series. What do you think so far? What levels do you think will be popping up on this list? What levels do *you* like? Feel free to tell us in the comments. My colleagues have also previously provided their own best regarded levels in a previous club, if you’re curious.