Hotline Miami 2 is essentially a twitch shooter from a birds eye viewpoint, it’s made once again by Dennaton games and is a sequel to the highly praised Hotline Miami released in 2012.
The game plays almost identical to its younger brother, though with a few gameplay tweaks, most of which are unfortunately for the worse. The objective of Hotline Miami is simple, kill everyone on the map without dying, Easier said than done of course, as everyone dies in one bullet or weapon swing, yourself included. The main challenge of the game starts in just finishing the level, but experts or gluttons for punishment can go for high scores thanks to a scoring system that awards recklessness and speed.
Hotline Miami 2 has a few new mechanics, though both of them are unfortunately tied to a few levels – The playable characters with the bear and duck masks. Bear mask guy gets the dual SMG’s you probably saw in a trailer a long time ago, and you can right click to make him spread his arms and turn into Jesus Christ, which is super cool and awesome, but unfortunately not very practically useful as you’ll run out of ammo so hilariously fast this way that you may as well just restart already. The other character, or should I say characters are the pair i’ve lovingly dubbed the duck brothers – you control these two at the same time, and they have a chainsaw and firearm between them, though the latter brother’s positioning means you won’t be shooting straight like you’re used to, I think the duck brother segments were the most fun in the game for me.
This is usually the part where I would talk more about things I liked, things the game did well… etc etc. But unfortunately, short of the soundtrack (which is has some really standout tracks) and the duck brothers mentioned in the paragraph above, Hotline Miami 2 is the sort of game i’m struggling to praise. So instead, we will now transition into…
Things that are bad about Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number:
The level design is shit
This is the biggest issue, by far. Hotline Miami had some fantastic flow and was hype for the player because of it’s good level design, a labyrinth of death with plenty of places to catch your enemy off guard. Wrong number has decided to ramp up the difficulty by instead having almost all of it’s levels include wide open spaces, and enough glass windows to make the empire state building jealous. The result is that instead of constant small skirmishes with melee enemies, they have opted to just give everyone machine guns and have them sprint at you from full screens away. This really upsets the flow of the game and turns the optimal playstyle into a peak-a-boo style shooter not unsimilar from games that feature chest high walls. Combine open maps with the points below and you’ll start to understand why the game falls apart.
The change in mechanics are shit
I briefly mentioned this above, but basically in most areas you are going to be forced into playing coy, peaking out and luring enemies over to you rather than straight up killing them. There are multiple reasons for this, but the main one is that enemies now seem to have the ability to see you from outside of your view distance – and these are the same guys that have machineguns and shotguns. There have been many occasions where i’ve been shot from offscreen and died, so once again, you are forced to play slow, peak out and come back in and wait to see if anyone sprints at you.
I think the timing battles with knives in HM1 were more enjoyable than the twitch shooting you’ll be doing for the majority of HM2.
The new enemies are shit
Wrong Number attempts to introduce more enemy types, but they will only serve to annoy you rather than make the game more interesting. Heavy enemies are annoying and numerous (and don’t react to being shot if you are a certain distance away, which is weird.) and impossible to kill without a firearm, guard dogs are meh and have bizarre AI, even the commando guy that shows up one level isn’t much fun to fight. Oh, and there are now soldiers who can duck behind cover, meaning.. yep! you get to play whack a mole with them, only they get much more ammo than you.
The story is shit
Perhaps shit isn’t the right word, but it’s vastly expanded from the original Hotline Miami, now maybe i’m nitpicking, but I honestly couldn’t care less about the story in a game like this, especially when it’s as intricate and confusing as HM2’s fruit salad of random scenes across it’s spattering of characters.
At it’s peak, when on one of the games tighter nit apartment levels, and the soundtrack is thumping away, Hotline Miami 2 can be a blast to play, It’s just a massive shame that these moments are fleeting and the majority of the game is spent being murdered by enemies you can barely see, in levels that devolve into a rather binary ‘I sprayed in that direction and killed everyone’ or ‘I sprayed in that direction, missed one guy and got shot’. Disappointing.
Approximate Game Length : 2-5 Hours depending on skill
Actual Worth / Steam Price: £7 / £12 = 0.58
Should you play it : Probably better off just replaying the original.
Rating: 2 / 5