Real Talk By: The Wizard
Today we are going to be reviewing a little game created by Dennation Games called Hotline Miami. This is another retro 8-Bit looking video game that can be bought on Steam or www.gog.com and played on your PC. Hotline Miami could best be described as a fast paced, ultra violent Metal Gear set in 1980’s Miami Florida with a top down view. Except the world isn’t as large or open as the original Metal Gear on NES. You play the role of a hired killer who just takes phone calls and heads to where ever the job is to put in work. There are some story elements between stages that don’t make a lot of sense. For example some guy might just give you a pizza for free. But the whole story is shrouded around mystery, and little bits unfold as you play. I’m not much on giving the story away in reviews so I’ll just mention one thing before we begin the review of the game. This game is extremely hard. So be warned! You will die probably hundreds of times. So if you hate very difficult retro style games head over the your Sega Genesis and pop in Crystals Pony Tale. This game is for the big boys… and girls. However, if you love really hard games then please read on.
Like mentioned above this game plays like Metal Gear on NES, but is broken into stages. Hotline Miami is very fast paced, and at times hectic. You start pretty much every stage at the entrance to a house, you walk right in the front door, and just kill everyone, sometimes collecting an item to finish the level. There are a few different kinds of enemies including men in white suits, dogs, these chinese looking guys, guys that look like the Notorious B.I.G. who can take a whole clip and still keep charging you, and the occasional boss. I imagine there are more enemies as the game seems to add harder enemies as you progress. Which is good because it takes some time to learn the game. Clearing out all the enemies in these stages is no easy task. You have to come up with a plan or you will die! After a few deaths you will be thinking “ok, that didn’t work. This time I will run in, stab that guy and take his gun, then run in that room shoot the other 3 guys and hope the dog doesn’t see me.” And after you die 10 more times you will realize this game is very unforgiving. You have to decide where it is, and is not appropriate to fire a shot, and where to be silent and use a golf club, or one of the other multiple weapons you find lying around. You can always scope out the entire lay of the floor and come up with a battle plan.
Once you get further in the game you’re going to feel like the odds are against you, because they are! One of the things I really love about the game, but also hate is that enemies switch patterns and weapons. It’s really cool for replay value, because it’s different a lot. But really frustrating when an enemy had a Uzi and next time he has a shotgun with 6 rounds and you’re screwed! One last thing to mention is that there are hidden masks in the game, and at the start of every level you can choose which to wear. The masks offer different perks. For example one might make you execute enemies faster, or have silent shots. Or another that helps you find the secret letters hidden through the stages of the game. The interesting thing about the masks is that usually the better the mask you choose, the more of a penalty you will have when you beat a stage, as stages grade you on speed, weapon variety, and a few other determining factors when calculating your rank. Sure you can can have some sweet silent shots, but then you just shoot everyone and you lose your variety bonus which results in a bad rank. The gameplay in all is really fun. It keeps you thinking, but unlike other stealth games is moves very fast.
Surprisingly the keyboard controls work really well for this game. You run around with W A S D and control your firing reticule with the mouse, and spacebar performs executions. You’re suppose to be able to lock onto targets with middle mouse button, but I could never get this to work. From reading on the steam forums seems like a lot of people have this issue, but some people say it works perfect. I have never been able to get this to work. One other small issue is that sometimes it just seems like weapons go right through targets. I’m unsure if they really do or if it’s just me sucking and declaring the game to be cheating, but there was more than a few times I was quite skeptical about the hit detection. Unfortunately the game has been giving me issues the last few days after an update so hopefully I can get it working later this week and see if anything has changed. For the keyboard impaired, I just read online there is finally controller support. I can’t wait to try this out. All in all the game controls as you would expect from a retro game. A few little hiccups, but nothing to cry about.
One thing Hotline Miami really has going for it is the awesome music. It is really amazing! Especially the title screen music. In game it is sort of techno style, which works well for 1980’s Miami Florida, but I can’t even describe the intro music except that it is actually something I would listen to in my car. I have never said that about a game before. Not even about my favorite RPG’s. I would actually play this around friends at a party. It’s that good! You can purchase the soundtrack via MP3 download from the creator of the soundtracks website. For $5.00 I believe. Writing this now I’m surprised I haven’t snatched it up yet. Hotline Miami soundtrack = Amazing Stuff!
The one thing I dislike about Hotline Miami is the graphics. They just don’t do it for me. When you play you realize that they’re not bad, and it’s the style they probably wanted and executed perfectly, but I just can’t feel them. The problem for me is the graphics just look like… I don’t even know how to describe it except for dirty! I’ll be running around a house and thinking to myself is that a couch or a pool table? It took me like 45 seconds to figure out one mask was a chicken. I feel like I have the hang of the graphics for the most part and can distinguish what the masks are. However, in the houses, I still have issues realizing what exactly it is I’m looking at sometimes. I just feel like the graphics are not bad, but not to my taste. They would probably appeal to most, just not myself.
Hotline Miami is a fast paced top down stealthy shooter that is very hard, and even more unforgiving. The game controls well, and the variety and changing patterns makes for some good replay value. There are plenty of weapons to keep you busy, even though a lot of them just do the same thing it’s still fun to switch them up. Although I feel like the graphics are not to my taste, I feel like they are done well, and the soundtrack is simply amazing! The only issue I have with the game really is that the middle mouse lock never works for me, and the game seems to not want to load up sometimes and gives me errors. I think if these small issues are fixed the game would be near perfect. I would recommend this game to anyone who likes stealth style games, or the people who are fans of Grand Theft Auto, or other violent type games. For people like myself who are not sold on a game because they are violent, I think the challenge, variety, and soundtrack that comes with the game will keep you interested.
Hotline Miami Gets
Out of Five
+Fast Paced Stealth Gameplay (FPSG)
+Makes you think
-Some minor issues running the game (but they seem to update often)
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