Apple drew the short straw when it came to Hitman 3, aka ‘World of Assassination’, the latest game in the Hitman franchise. Though Macs have silently become excellent gaming machines, you still can’t play IO Interactive’s latest games on Apple’s latest machines. With Hitman: Blood Money - Reprisal, an iOS / iPad mobile port of the 2006 console game, it feels like an opportunity for the development team to go back and give Apple gamers what they’ve been missing. Given this is technically the fourth Hitman game, this port feels like an odd choice to start with but it makes me hopeful that more could come. If they are of the same quality, I’d be happy to see the whole franchise available on the go.
Hitman: Blood Money Reprisal landed on iOS and iPadOS on November 30th for $14.99 and comes with Universal Purchase. You buy it once on either platform and get access to it on both, with a shared save file via iCloud. It contains the original storyline and all the original levels, with practically no changes to dialogue, tone, and scenes. There are customization options like a graphics toggle to change textures from low to high but not much to really take advantage of the newest iPhone and iPad hardware.
Hitman: Blood Money launched in 2006 and, while it was an evolution of the stealthy-assassination concepts of its predecessor in some key areas like level complexity, critics felt like it was more of an incremental update to the previous Hitman: Contracts. Despite this, it was generally well-received and was a commercial success for the studio.
Blood Money does exactly what it needs to as a port and even manages to add in some great quality-of-life improvements. But I wish it could have leveraged the power of modern smartphones a little more. It’s a great adaptation of the base game that is just inches off being absolutely perfect.
At your fingertips
For the uninitiated, Hitman: Blood Money is a game all about making your way through diorama-like levels to poison, maim, or otherwise brutalize a central target. Blood Money continued the series with larger levels and a grander story and is among the more well-liked entries to this day. Being the first Hitman game to launch on the then-new Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, it was at the time more of a technical showcase for the developer IO than any previous entry, even if it’s less impressive by 2023 standards. It did however work to set the scene for the incredible World of Assassination entries that followed it — considered some of the best action in all of stealth-oriented gaming,
One pleasant surprise I was hit with in mere moments after firing up the new port is how usable the touch controls are. You use the left-hand side to move around and anywhere else on the screen to change the view. From a quick tap on the bottom right-hand side, you can then access your inventory, put your weapon away, and even activate Instinct Mode, a trapping from later Hitman games that allows you to easily see climbable walls and interactable bits of scenery. On a smaller screen that is partially covered by your fingers, this is a great touch.
As well as these controls, there’s a dedicated aim button that makes hitting your shots much easier. You snap onto enemies when you hold your gun out but this doesn’t make the game easy. Like other Hitman games, the goal isn’t to kill everyone but just the right person. If you play it right, Hitman is a puzzle game before an action game. It doesn’t entirely stray away from action though and can get a little muddy in the game’s more hectic moments. This is partially due to the screen’s size and the limitations of touch controls.
Granted, playing Reprisal with touch controls won’t be as fun an experience compared to playing with a controller — but, unlike our experience with Resident Evil Village on iPhone 15 Pro Max, it’s not a pain to play with them.
Hitman: Blood Money Reprisal does noticeably upgrade the experience of playing Hitman with a brand new minimap, alerts to tell you when you’re trespassing, and some new aim perspectives when carrying guns, all not present in the original game. As well as this, there are some interesting optimization options in the settings, like a Battery Saver mode for when you’re playing on the go, and Performance + that aims for 90 FPS. This is intended to make the game run smoother and particularly benefits from ProMotion – a feature in the iPhone Pros that allows them to run games and media at 120Hz refresh rates.
The quality of life improvements can be toggled if you want that pure Hitman: Blood Money experience, without the minimap or extra perspectives. If you want to play it like gamers did in 2006, that option is there. Unfortunately, I feel like my iPhone 15 Pro Max wasn’t given an excuse to really flex its muscles due to some toned-down and muddy textures. I’m not necessarily looking for in-depth graphical menus (and a ‘preset override’ allows some level of customization with how the game optimizes graphics) but it could benefit from the ability to push things even higher with more graphical fidelity options.
With the preset override, you can set your own custom FPS cap, allowing your iPhone or iPad to run the game at a higher FPS than the game will run at in default settings. This is an interesting feature that mostly got lost on me when the game was running on the smaller screen of an iPhone.
On the go
Though I was very excited to give this game a go on my iPhone, I’ve discovered that playing Reprisal on iPad could be the better device for the remaster. Unlike the iPhone version of the game, the iPad port has keyboard and mouse support from the get-go and the bigger screen allows parts of the game to shine more. For instance, at the very start, you are given a dual-camera feed showing Agent 47 and their target. On the iPhone, this dual camera takes up half the screen. On iPad, it’s a small feed in the corner – a much better choice that feels less cumbersome.
There aren’t many more clear differences between the two devices outside of those dual cam shots but the attention to detail here is worth applauding. It genuinely feels like both versions were tested and talked about thoroughly to really take advantage of the screen size differences.
Touch controls are pretty decent but my favorite method to play was with a keyboard and mouse, even if Reprisal doesn’t explain all the controls to you. Luckily, Hitman is a relatively simple game once you get going and learning the controls from playing alone will only take a mission or so.
The game also works well on a controller, such as a Backbone, once you’ve learned the rather outdated control scheme. This is more a hangup of how far games have come in the last few decades and not a sign of the quality of the port. Some strange control choices may require a manual reprogramme but the option to do so is supported at launch.
How does it compare to the original?
Outside of some minor grievances with graphical settings and how textures look on the smaller screen of the iPhone, Hitman: Blood Money Reprisal is a faithful adaptation of a game that has managed to make an impact on gamers nearly two decades since its debut. It is complete with all central missions, plays well on different screen sizes, and keyboard and mouse support are a welcome addition where available, making the iPad version of the game feel nearly indistinguishable from how the original game played.
The strength of the franchise still shines through here – one with such strong mechanics that even dated textures feel charming when you’re hunting down your next major target.
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James is a staff writer and general Jack of all trades at iMore. With news, features, reviews, and guides under his belt, he has always liked Apple for its unique branding and distinctive style. Originally buying a Macbook for music and video production, he has since gone on to join the Apple ecosystem with as many devices as he can fit on his person.
With a degree in Law and Media and being a little too young to move onto the next step of his law career, James started writing from his bedroom about games, movies, tech, and anything else he could think of. Within months, this turned into a fully-fledged career as a freelance journalist. Before joining iMore, he was a staff writer at Gfinity and saw himself published at sites like TechRadar, NME, and Eurogamer.
As his extensive portfolio implies, James was predominantly a games journalist before joining iMore and brings with him a unique perspective on Apple itself. When not working, he is trying to catch up with the movies and albums of the year, as well as finally finishing the Yakuza series. If you like Midwest emo music or pretentious indie games that will make you cry, he’ll talk your ear off.