Real Talk By: KJ
Hotline Miami was of my favorite games to arrive in the last few years. The unique art direction immediately pulled me in. It looks like a SNES game at times, yet the violence would only be allowed in this era. Players were taken on an acid-trip journey through various shootouts. Levels stuffed enemies in small rooms with big guns. The AI was sharp, quick to react, and would capitalize on your mistakes. The soundtrack from the first game, was one of the best I’ve ever heard. Well, that was until I played Wrong Number.
The trippy-synth based sounds from popular 80’s entertainment returns. Arrangements from M.O.O.N, Pertubator, and Old Future Fox Gang just to name a few. They actually released the soundtrack on vinyl this time. Sound effects in general match up. Rounds firing, and blood spilling is all captured. When someone gets their head busted (or worse), well the sound that follows adds to the brutality. This isn’t a game for the youths by any means.
Hotline 2 actually tops its predecessor in carnage. It could be because more death animations were thrown in. The first game had a bunch already. To see mature scenes play out in front of you in an old school design, is one unique thing to experience for sure. Enemies using drugs, and other grimy behaviors. There is now a filter to block some of these scenes, as one in particular caused the game to be banned in Australia. It’s a good thing the option is available.
The Story is a lot more complex this time. Instead of two characters with parallel abilities, you’ll play as 11 over the course of the game. They aren’t just color swaps. Some are bigger in size. Many come with exclusive skills. Some can take two bullets before death. Another person can roll under enemy fire. One character in particular, tries to avoid violence at all costs. Equip him with a weapon, and he will automatically disarm it. This is good in a tight situation, since guards will pick up dropped guns. The weapons are more varied too. Dual wielding is now available. One of my favorites is the Taser. It’s actually one of the cleaner ways to take out an enemy. Aiming has been improved. You can highlight the nearest goon regardless of their placement. Even through a wall. Controls still can be stiff at times, with the targeting still not working to perfection. But improvements have clearly been made.
Level design has taken the next leap. Completing some areas can be insanely difficult as you progress. Places to take cover seem to be more scarce. If you thought it was tough dealing with windows in part 1, wait until you play this game. If the enemy sees you going by one, they will shoot on sight. Part 2 takes that concept and goes bananas.
HM1 had many goons in white suits for the bulk of the game. I’m happy to report that variety in foes has increased. At first I found myself scoring lower on stages than in the original. They want you to fly through levels, killing everyone in unique ways. The combo meter encourages you to hustle. I’ll admit, I had to pump the brakes sometimes. Areas are just so hard. Completing any level with a C+ or higher gets you an even harder difficulty level to play with too. But that is a sweet part of the design. Going back and trying to best yourself.
This variety in gameplay, and the stories attached to the characters are interesting. Your journey goes from the 80’s to the early 90’s. In a surprise move, some of the playable characters are very unlikable. A nice change of direction from the Master Chief’s and Nathan Drake’s of the world. You’ll play as a corrupt cop, mercenaries, mobsters. Basically really bad people in-general. I think there may be too much character swapping. It would have been nice to take in an individual’s story-arch more than Wrong Number Allows. It’s always right when you get accustomed to the character, HM2 changes things on you.
Stage Editor (PC version) will most certainly add more value to this $14.99 Game. What kind of Hellish obstacles can you come up with? The re-playability factor is already high. Going back, playing stages with different masks equipped, that would have been enough. Hotline Miami 2’s length is definitely longer than the previous title. Also, factor in the many deaths players will surely rack up. Sorry it is that hard of a game. If this is indeed the last in the series, this is such a great way to close out it. Addicting score-chasing mechanics, and stellar music throughout. Seriously have a listen. This is a call you’ll want to answer.
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number Gets
4.5 Out of 5
+Enemy AI Provides A Great Challenge
-Targeting still needs work
-Story is too chaotic