As the sequel to Hotline Miami this game has upped the ante when it comes to brutality and violence. Last review I warned that this game might not be for the squeemish and it goes double for this review. This game depicts sexual violence as well as regular violence so viewer discretion is advised again.
The events of the previous game end with a lot of Russian mobsters getting killed and the protagonist of the first game, a gentleman known only as Jacket, getting arrested. His actions have created a ripple effect across Miami. There are those who seek to understand him and those who seek to emulate him. You play as these disparate Miami dwellers, learning their stories, and figuring out whether you truly enjoy hurting other people. You’ll also take a little trip to the past to figure out a bit about Jacket’s bearded friend, everyone’s favorite snake, and everyone’s favorite rat. If you play get ready for the stunning conclusion to the Hotline Miami series.
As before, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is developed by Dennaton games which is comprised of developer, Jonatan Soderstrom and artist, Dennis Wedin. This time instead of just using Game Maker they tweaked the Game Maker 7 program to make their own unique engine. They wanted to make a game that focused more on story and characters, each character having their own goals and motivations.
Things changed a lot in development. Earlier builds of the game had characters with abilities they don’t possess now– Corey the Zebra, in particular, had the ability to enter buildings through windows instead of going through doors. It was also intended that Ash, the gun-toting swan, would be killable alongside his sister, Alex. As it stands, Ash is invulnerable to harm — something that I totally wouldn’t use to my advantage… nope.
Fun Fact: The Hotline Miami twitter released a phone number weeks before release that revealed the release date when called. A copy of the call can be found here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlnrQHoWCvo
Hotline Miami was released on March 10th, 2015. It’s competition was DMC: Definitive Edition (PS4 and XBOX One.), Assassin’s Creed Rogue (PC), and Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 (PC).
There’s a character you play half-way through the game who’s someone we’ve met before. It’s revealed that he’s a real character who can’t get a job because he’s too busy taking care of his sickly mother. There’s a point where she asks him to help her take a bath because she’s cold and too sick to do it herself. I felt so bad because I had to go out and kill russian mobsters– he comes up with an excuse of course– but she was super supportive of his endeavors to go out and make friends or get a job. I felt guilty. I came back home from the murder party and she was lying in the bathroom unconscious. I felt so bad. She was alright though, he tucks her into bed and all is well.
His final level involves him breaking out of prison. I was super pumped because prison breaks are always fun in games but then I had a thought. I asked myself how long this guy had been in prison, how long had his mother been alone? I started crying, I’ll admit it. I just kept thinking, “I’m gonna get you back to her man, I’m gonna get you back.”
The game plays very similarly to its predecessor but there are some seemingly minor changes that shake thins up a lot. You’re still going to different locales, ridding them of life, and then getting back into your sweet ride — just remember that everyone, including you, dies in one hit. This time though more thugs have random patterns and there are more windows. This leads to more pre-planning, use of the look function, and getting killed out of seemingly nowhere. This might lead the twitch reflexes you developed in the first game to rust a little. You’re also more likely to survive a single gunshot, something that happened randomly in the first game.
The plot up to this point is that Jacket has eliminated most of the Russian Mafia in Miami. He’s been arrested but his actions had far reaching consequences. There’s a new film coming out, Midnight Animal, that dramatizes his actions. He’s inspired a group of disgruntled citizens to take the fight to criminals on the streets, killing them by the houseful. Writer and former Russo-American war correspondent — did I mention this is an Alternate Universe where the cold war got hot… apparently?– Evan Wright is even writing a book, trying to make sense of the whole situation. There’s more where they came from and it’s a little tricky tying them all together but I find it really fun. Each of these characters has a different playstyle that really mixes the gameplay up.
In case you thought the first game was too easy and the second game got too easy as well, there’s now a hard mode. Hard mode disables enemy locking, add stronger enemies, and flips most maps — good-bye muscle memory.
Although there are fewer masks there are more characters. These characters are more fleshed out and there’s a stronger plot in general. It gets around to explaining some mysteries that were present in the first game. You’ll have to do some digging though. News articles, answering machines, and challenges will grant you intrigue and understanding so keep your eyes open.
Whadaya know, the world of Hotline Miami exists in an alternate timeline where the cold war got pretty hot. I thought it was an interesting explanation for the rampant anti-Russian sentiment and the rise of Russian based crime. What’s a Russo-American to do when they see a “no Russian need apply,” sign?
The new abilities are really fun to play with. My favorite is probably the gameplay of Alex and Ash, the swan twins. Alex leads the way with a chainsaw and Ash follows with whatever gun he can find. Ash’s pathing is a little bad but the gameplay style is unique and interesting. It allows Ash to fire off his weapon and lure enemies to Alex, or for Alex to finish off downed opponents while Ash keeps her safe.
As usual, the soundtrack in this game is top notch. It features a greater intensity than the first, with each level having it’s own unique track. You’ll replay levels just to hear these sweet techno tunes.
I can’t tell you how you many times you’ll walk down a hallway and get blasted by someone who’s off screen. You can use shift to look further ahead but sometimes that’s not enough distance to avoid getting shot. This sort of thing prevents you from getting big combos you were used to in the first game.
The maps are bigger this time around and that means getting wasted near the end means losing more progress than ever. It also means there’s an even larger list of things to worry about. I constantly found myself wondering if I had taken care of thugs that were guarding windows or in certain areas because I’d gone on a different path and couldn’t keep things straight.
There are so many score bonuses that it’s difficult to determine how well you’re actually doing until the end of the level. Hotline 1 seemed to express these score increases during gameplay so it was more readily apparent what your score would be. It sucks to go for an A+ ranking and not realize that you’ve actually been doing awful because your boldness score wasn’t high enough.
It’s inevitable that comparisons get drawn between a game and its sequel and Hotline Miami 2 is a different beast from Hotline Miami 1 altogether. If you like the first then there’s no guarantee that you’ll like this one, the tweaks to the gameplay have really changed it. That being said, if you didn’t like Hotline 1 then you might like Hotline 2. I personally enjoyed both, so it’s not a mutually exclusive thing. If you wanted your Hotline Miami to have more plot then this game will be your jam.
Next Week: FTL: Faster Than Light.