I haven’t read any posts in this thread yet (apologies) and I also haven’t voted… but I felt the need to express my opinion, because I hate this question and I want to explain why.
It all boils down to one fundamental thing; I’m really not certain of the basis upon which I would make this decision. The only reasons I could rank past titles lower than Hitman 2016 would be based on the technical superiority of the newest title, but this is only a factor because of the limitations that existed at the time each game was developed. Each iteration of Hitman brought improvements to certain mechanics and systems and controls, and of course graphics etc. but are those the only criteria by which we rate the quality of a game?
The latest Hitman is a phenomenal game for a billion obvious reasons I won’t bore you all with; it’s not perfect, but I f%$£ing love it! Primarily though, it’s a modern game with beautiful visuals, which takes advantage of modern technology, and the controls are an absolute dream.
In contrast, Hitman 2 for example is rather aged and clunky; it was released in 2002 ffs. The controls aren’t even close to a dream, the AI is crazy and the graphics, though good for the time it was developed, are not gorgeous DX12 tessellated eye candy. Does that make it a worse Hitman game than Hitman 2016? No, not at all. I love Hitman 2, it has it’s own feel, it’s own place in Hitman lore and a fond place in my memories of the franchise.
I recently revisited Hitman: Contracts. A game I haven’t played for a very long time, though I remember it very well (and actually, though not a story I’ll tell here, was the game that really truly made me fall in love with the franchise). Again, compared to the latest Hitman, the controls are clunky and the ballistics are weird, among other things… Returning to it after such a long time, it just feels odd and old. But it took me only a few minutes to become familiar and comfortable with it again, and it all came flooding back… The environments, the level design, the music, the eerie dark atmosphere. In a strictly technical sense, it is inferior to Hitman 2016, but it still has the power to send tingles down my spine, to engross me in the story and the character, to feel the epicness of being that chameleonic assassin and the personification of death and fate, in a way that the 2016 Hitman never has.
For example, the slow walk in the winter cold in the “The Bjarkhov Bomb” when the music kicks in and you’re disguised as Fabian Fuchs after having just assassinated him…
“CANNA HAV SUM ZOOOP DOWN EEER!”
(seriously though) …and you’re making your way to your next target; the feeling is nothing short of epic.
Hitman 2016, as amazing as it is, has never, NEVER made me feel this way.
Hitman: Blood Money… I won’t fully describe my opinions of this game, because I would go on forever and words don’t do it justice. Instead, watch and listen, and just take in the orchestral score in this game and
appreciate what it feels like to exit a mission after performing the perfect assassination.
How can I possibility criticize that on its technical limitations!? Blood Money as work of art (and I believe video games very much are works of art) was and is a masterpiece.
Furthermore, there are quite a few things from those previous titles I’d like to see featured in the newest Hitman; human shields, hiding things in crates, the god-damn suitcase ffs! etc etc…
And I can go on ad nauseam… but I won’t. Each entry to the franchise (except Absolution, though it has many virtues, which I’ve described at length on this forum) has reasons why I love it; artistic, sentimental, nostalgic; whatever the reasons, I love them all for their own unique reasons… and that is why I refuse to vote.
My favourites are Contracts and Blood Money, without a doubt… but I also love Hitman 2. However, by way of superior technology (and the sheer amount of things you can do in it!), Hitman 2016 that is the one I now play most often.
All in all, for me at least it’s an unanswerable question, I can’t rank the Hitman games because in my mind they are simply unrankable… They were all amazing for their time, they all have a place in my heart for their own reasons.
Fundamentally as a franchise, Hitman is unique. Literally no other game on earth allows you to be a modern day professional assassin, killing high profile targets with the intention of going completely unnoticed and being completely untraceable. It’s like taking the idea of Leon the Professional and turning it into a video game (except better)… Nobody else has done it; this is it, and in all its old technologically limited forms, as well as its sparkly modern form, I love it! Add to that the main character, his origins and the dark artistic style of the franchise… No more need be said.
I rest my case.