Very few games give you withdrawal symptoms after you put them down. Hotline Miami is known for its addictive tough-as-nails twitchy overhead action, but does the sequel live up to the original? Slip on your favourite animal mask, we're going to find out.
Hotline Miami 2's plot jumps between many playable protagonists and takes place both before and after the original game. Characters range from psychopathic murderers, drug addicts, delusional snuff film actors, gang members, and a detective with questionable morals. It certainly isn't for the light-hearted. In contrast to the serious subject matter, the game itself looks like a 16-bit overhead shooter. Enemies are easily spotted although at times you face off in darkened rooms or even after taking drugs thus distorting the graphics and making it trickier to see what's going on. All of this insanity mixed with plenty of blood and gore is only amplified with the intensely adrenaline-pumping soundtrack. The music could not be better suited for such an exhilarating game. After all is said and done, Wrong Number will both excite you and make you feel dirty for taking pleasure in such bottom of the barrel depravity.
The reason Hotline Miami's gameplay is so addictive is due to a combination of fast-paced action and intense difficulty. Enemies spot you within a split second of being in sight and they react immediately. If one sees you, they'll shoot you before you're even aware of their existence. Therefore, being able to plan how to take out enemies effectively is required to succeed. However, you'll find yourself in many stages simply replaying over and over again in order to thoroughly formulate and memorise a plan just so you can progress in the campaign. Although this trial and error mechanic can be rewarding, at times it feels unfair such as in larger areas where you can't quite see where the enemies are before it's too late. It's a good thing the controls are incredibly responsive and intuitive because that's essential for a game such as this to be enjoyable. Overall, Hotline Miami won't fail to satisfy hardcore gamers looking for a challenge.
Wrong Number features 25 stages which will take you plenty of hours to complete unless you're good enough to breeze through. One improvement over the original is the diversity of level design. Some stages are enormous as opposed to the first game's mostly confined areas. Considering you'll constantly be switching characters, the gameplay mechanics change regularly enough to never become tiresome. You'll play as characters including a soldier who chooses a weapon with limited ammo, a melee-only tough guy, plenty of masked criminals, and even two characters at once with one wielding a chainsaw and the other holding a gun. You surely don't have time to get comfortable with environments and characters constantly changing, so you're in for one consistently fresh experience.
There are plenty of features that add a lot of replay value for the hardcore. You can play any stage again to get higher scores and faster times, climb the leaderboards, and achieve better grades. This has the potential to add countless hours since getting the best grade requires a great deal of practice and skill. If that's not enough, you can also play through the entire campaign on a harder difficulty after completing the game. Basically, no matter how good you get, there's always more to accomplish.
As previously mentioned, the heavy subject matter and disturbing imagery can make even the thickest skinned gamers uneasy at times. After playing for a while, you'll certainly be at least a bit nauseated after witnessing countless scenes of violence, drug use, and even sexual abuse. That being said, this is nothing new to Hotline Miami, so if you're familiar with the series then you know what to expect. However, newcomers should be warned; especially if they're sensitive to these kinds of issues.
If you're the kind of hardcore gamer looking for a challenging action-packed roller coaster ride then Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is a definite must-buy. However, if you're hesitant to witness violent acts or get frustrated easily at difficult games then this is one to avoid. Either way, Hotline Miami 2 may not add much to the groundbreaking original, but it's an unquestionably worthy sequel.
- + Addictive twitch-inducing gameplay
- + Stages offer plenty of diverse situations
- + Adrenaline-pumping soundtrack matches the on-screen insanity perfectly
- - Disturbing imagery and subject matter can make even hard-skinned gamers uneasy
- - Too much trial and error forces you to memorise levels in order to progress