Hitman: Codename 47

Hitman: Codename 47 is a stealth video game developed by IO Interactive and published by Eidos Interactive. It was released exclusively for Microsoft Windows in November 2000. It is the debut title in the Hitman franchise. Gameplay is presented from a third-person perspective, and revolves around assassinating targets in a stealthy fashion by using disguises and suppressed weaponry, though some levels are more action-focused and do not feature stealth as a possibility. Players control Agent 47, a genetically enhanced human clone who is rigorously trained in methods of murder. Upon escaping from his testing facility, 47 is hired by the International Contract Agency (ICA), a global contract killing organisation. His missions take him to locations in Asia, Europe, and South America to assassinate wealthy and decadent criminals.

Hitman: Codename 47
Hitman artwork.jpg
Developer(s)IO Interactive
Publisher(s)Eidos Interactive
  • Peter Gjellerup Koch
  • Morten Iversen
Composer(s)Jesper Kyd
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows
  • NA: 19 November 2000[1]
  • EU: 1 December 2000

Codename 47 received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the unique approach to stealth gameplay, but criticized its difficulty and controls. The game sold over 500,000 units by 2009.[2] A sequel, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, was released in 2002.


Hitman: Codename 47 is presented from the third-person perspective, but the control setup is similar to a first-person shooter as 47's movements are restricted to turning, strafing and moving forward. Each level takes place in a semi-open world environment which is populated with non-player characters such as civilians and armed guards. Although mission criteria may vary, the goal is generally to find 47's assigned target and kill them by any means possible. Though the path may appear linear, it is possible through various ways to accomplish the mission and approach a target directly without eliciting a violent reprisal. The game essentially emphasises stealth and silent kills without raising alerts, giving the player a higher financial reward for doing so. Penalties in the form of financial deductions are given, for example if the player kills civilians, but none of the guards are slain. As the money is used to purchase weapons and ammo during the course of the game, this pressures the player to utilise stealth, disguise and melee based mechanics for the most cost-effective method to take out targets.

The player can peek around corners by using the lean function, which prompts 47 to tilt slightly to one side. 47 is able to climb ladders, but cannot defend himself with a weapon while doing so. In addition, he is only able to jump from one balcony to another. There is an on-screen cursor to indicate in which direction 47 will attack. The heads-up display includes a life bar which measures 47's health, ammo capacity, kevlar durability, and the current item selected. Alert messages sometimes appear next to the health readout. These occur whenever enemies discover a body on the map, or if 47 falls under suspicion. 47's weaponry consists of various short and long-range firearms, a garrote wire, and a knife. Handguns generally have excellent range, while automatic rifles and machine guns decrease in accuracy the farther away 47 is from his target. 47 can also equip himself with a sniper rifle, concealed in a special suitcase, which must be reassembled before he may use it. Once he is finished with the rifle, 47 can take it apart and place it in the suitcase once more.

Disguise plays a large role in gameplay. Any time a non-player character is killed, 47 may take their clothes and impersonate them. This is necessary to access restricted areas where only guards may enter. At the start of each level, 47 begins in a default costume. This costume is his trademark suit and red tie which is folded and left on the ground whenever 47 changes clothes. The player may replace 47's outfit with a previous one by simply approaching them and selecting the option to change. In the event that 47 adopted the clothes of someone he has slain, his disguise will be compromised as soon as the body is discovered. 47 creates sound while walking which will alert any hostile characters in the facility. To move without being detected, the player can use the sneak function, which causes 47 to crouch and move in a stalking manner. Sneaking also allows 47 to retrieve a weapon from his inventory without anyone hearing it; if 47 is standing upright when the player pulls out a weapon, it will alert nearby characters. Characters who are dead may be dragged at any time. If anyone on the map spots a body lying on the ground, it will create unwanted attention for 47. When dragging, 47 lifts up the closest available leg or arm and begins to hoist it away as movement is directed by the player.


In 1999, "Subject 47", a bald man with a barcode tattooed on the back of his head, awakens in the basement of a sanatorium to an unidentified man talking over a loudspeaker. Under the man's guidance, he completes a training course that tests his athletic, firearms, and assassination skills, before killing the guards and escaping from the sanatorium, much to his observer's joy. A year later, 47 has joined the International Contract Agency (ICA) - a global organization that specializes in performing assassinations for various clients - and has been assigned the identity of "Agent 47" and a handler, Diana Burnwood.

Over the course of the year, 47 completes contracts that see him killing Triad crime boss Lee Hong in Hong Kong, after weakening his position by provoking a gang war; cocaine trafficker Pablo Belisario Ochoa in Colombia, through a staged drug raid; Austrian mercenary Frantz Fuchs in Budapest, who was planning to detonate a bomb during an international conference; and gunrunner Arkadij Jegorov in Rotterdam, who was paranoid about the imminent arrival of 47 and had activated a nuclear warhead on his ship. After each successful assassination, 47 finds letters on each target discussing about himself, a project about an "experimental human", and a man named Professor Ort-Meyer.

Diana soon contacts 47 with news that all four targets served in the same French Foreign Legion unit in Vietnam during the First Indochina War, and that the assassinations were requested by the same client, which is against ICA's rules. 47 is then sent on a final mission - to assassinate a doctor in a sanatorium in Romania, which he recognizes as the same facility he escaped from a year prior. As Romanian special forces raid the building, 47 eliminates the target, whom he recognizes as Ort-Meyer's assistant, and discovers the truth of his existence: he is the product of a cloning experiment that combined Ort-Meyer, Hong, Ochoa, Fuchs, and Jegorov's DNA to create the perfect assassin.

With the help of a fairly inept CIA agent named Carlton Smith, whom he had first encountered and rescued in Hong Kong, 47 locates Ort-Meyer in a hidden lab under the sanatorium, and learns that the professor orchestrated his escape a year prior to test his performance in the real world, and arranged his former partners' deaths because they each wanted 47 for themselves. Ort-Meyer then reveals that he has since created more skilled and easier to control clones, dubbed "Subjects 48", and dispatches them to kill 47. After killing all the clones with his superior training, 47 poses as one of them to reach Ort-Meyer, whom he shoots when he realizes the deception. Before dying, Ort-Meyer regrets that he was unable to recognize "his own son" and accepts his death at 47's hands, who proceeds to snap his neck.


Hitman: Codename 47 was developed by IO Interactive. It is one of the first games to use ragdoll physics,[3] and also features cloth simulation and foliage physics.


Hitman: Codename 47 received "mixed or average" reviews, according to review aggregator Metacritic.[5]

Jim Preston reviewed the PC version of the game for Next Generation, rating it three stars out of five, and calling it "A deeply flawed masterpiece that will, nonetheless, reward forgiving gamers."[4]

Codename 47 received a "Silver" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA),[6] indicating sales of at least 100,000 copies in the United Kingdom.[7] In April 2009, Square Enix revealed that Hitman had surpassed half a million sales globally.[2]


  1. ^ "Hitman: Codename 47 - IO Interactive". IO Interactive. 19 November 2000. Archived from the original on 26 September 2020. Retrieved 25 October 2019."
  2. ^ a b Corporate Strategy Meeting (Eidos Integration) (PDF) (Report). Square Enix. 22 April 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 December 2010.
  3. ^ "Advanced Character Physics". Gamasutra. 21 January 2003. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  4. ^ a b Preston, Jim (March 2001). "Finals". Next Generation. Vol. 4, no. 3. Imagine Media. p. 91.
  5. ^ a b "Hitman: Codename 47 for PC Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
  6. ^ "ELSPA Sales Awards: Silver". Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association. Archived from the original on 21 February 2009.
  7. ^ Caoili, Eric (26 November 2008). "ELSPA: Wii Fit, Mario Kart Reach Diamond Status In UK". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on 18 September 2017.