Hotline Miami – PS3
Hotline Miami isn’t just a game, it’s a drug. You know, the kind that can alienate you from your friends and family. The kind that leaves you yearning for more. The kind that makes you sell your girlfriend’s mom’s wedding ring just to buy your next hit. Okay, the last one was a lie. I don’t have a girlfriend, but that’s exactly what this game did to me because the second I started playing it I couldn’t put it down until it was completely done. Slaughtering my next target was all I could think about. Every attack was brutal, every kill was a rush, every murder was a step closer to the answer “who is the man on the phone?” Succumb to the peer pressure and enter the world of Hotline Miami.
Let’s just start off by saying the gameplay in Hotline Miami is fast paced, very fast paced. So fast paced in fact that you’ll be restarting at the beginning of the level before you realize what you did wrong. That’s right, one hit and you’re dead. It may get frustrating at times, but you’ll learn something new from every death about how to clear the level. The challenge is part of the appeal. Sure it’s disheartening when it’s your millionth attempt, one enemy left, you charge in for the kill with a big smile on your face….. and he bashes your head in with a metal pipe. Hey, I’m a pretty mellow guy, but let’s just say there were moments I wanted to throw the damn controller straight through the only window in my mom’s basement. But I kept coming back for more. This game is just that addicting.
Hotline Miami uses a top-down view where you can use stealth to clear a floor or my personal favorite method: The “Ryan Gosling,” that’s where I just bust through the door with a shotgun and murder everybody in cold blood. Of course, that can only take you so far because the sound of a shotgun will bring other enemies and you’ll be back at the start before you can say Gangster Squad. Weapons range from silenced pistols and knives to assault rifles and swords, each having their advantages and disadvantages, each splattering pixelated blood all over walls in their own way. Stringing together kills and mixing up weapons is the best way to get a high score. Boss encounters are extremely tough in this game. You’ll have their patterns completely memorized before finally defeating them.
You start each chapter in your apartment where you are given vague cryptic messages on your answering machine. These messages give you certain tasks and missions mostly involving entering a building and violently wiping everybody out. Then you get in your DeLorean and you’re off. Seems simple, but the storytelling method of Hotline Miami is surreal and downright creepy. You start seeing dead bodies walking around and talking to you. What happened to them? Who is leaving you these strange messages and why? Figuring out and discussing the story of what really happened was part of the fun. Make sure to collect all the scrabble pieces to get the “true” ending. I have several theories about what really happened, but I won’t spoil anything here.
The sound and music in Hotline Miami is half of what makes this game truly great. One of the best soundtracks I’ve heard in a long time. Some songs get your heart pumping others are haunting melodies that fit perfectly with its Drive theme. There’s a moment right after you slaughter a whole floor of people that the music suddenly stops and you’re surrounded by blood-covered walls and dead bodies. It actually feels like you’re coming down off of some kind of murderous high. The musical cues in this game really do a great job of creating the dreamlike aesthetics. The replay value is upped by the different masks you can collect and wear during your missions. Most of them being extremely helpful. The camel mask gives you more ammo. The walrus mask allows you to get hit two times before dying. All the different masks can help accommodate any kind of playing style. I personally used the chameleon mask a lot which makes you harder to spot. It helped make it easier for me to sneak behind enemies and kill them silently. There are even a few hidden masks that you can find throughout the game.
The A.I. in Hotline Miami do what they’re supposed to, for the most part. Enemies attack you if spotted. Enemies come running when a gunshot is heard. Then there’s times when enemies don’t do much at all, even if their buddy dies in the same room they’re standing in. I call those freebies in a challenging game like this. But there are moments when the A.I. will surprise you. There were countless times I thought I was alone in a room only to get shot by an enemy off screen or through a window. As long as your’re out of their visual range you’re good. The controls will take some time getting used to, but are pretty smooth with the PS3 sticks. I do wish the ‘discard weapons’ button was different from the ‘pick up weapons’ button. There were several times where quickly grabbing the weapon I wanted in a pile of other weapons became difficult, especially when you’re in the middle of a murderous rampage.
From the Drive inspired aesthetics to the extreme 8-bit violence, Hotline Miami is a fantastic game and well worth the download. The Retro graphics and a 80s-esque synth soundtrack impeccably merge creating an ultra-violent blast of fun. The game is free for PlayStation Plus members, but even if it wasn’t it’s a must play download that I encourage you to try. When indie developers like Dennaton Games come out with games like this, they deserve to be rewarded. So pick a mask, grab a weapon, and get addicted.
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