Review: Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number Is A Skull-Bash Behind Its Predecessor
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number from Dennaton Games had quite the mountain to climb to better its brilliant predecessor. Unfortunately that mountain proved to be a bit too steep.
- Worth The Time?Yes, to the Hotline Miami lovers and masochists.
- Things LovedThe diverse cast of characters and styles freshens up the experience; the hyper violence is as delicious as ever; it's an absolute rush of adrenaline; the soundtrack is one of the best you'll find in a game; its visually stunning; hard mode is a great incentive for replayability for the masochists.
- Things HatedThe story is unnecessarily convoluted; many levels designed in a way that demands over-use of guns; large open levels can frequently lead to cheap deaths; it overstays its welcome; masses of enemies can result in it getting a little tiresome; occasional control issues.
- RecommendationYou can't go wrong with Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number if you want more of the original. But if you're looking for a sequel that makes as much of an impact and is as memorable as the first game, you may be disappointed. Those who hated using guns in the first game may be put off as well.
- Name: Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number
- Genre: Top-Down Shooter
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: N/A
- Platforms: PC, PS4, PS3, Vita
- Developer: Dennaton Games
- Publisher: Devolver Digital
- Price: $14.99
- Reviewed On: PC
The original Hotline Miami came as a wonderful surprise, proving to be a brilliant adrenaline rush of a game with a bizarrely thought-provoking narrative, incredible music and hyper violence that was almost impossible not to be mesmerised by. It stood against cautionary approaches and begged to be played like a fever dream, in a rush of cracking skulls and guts and fast movement. As massive fans of the first game we were very excited by the announcement of Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, despite knowing that developer Dennaton Games had quite the mountain to climb in order to top it. After dropping the last body in Hotline Miami 2, we can say that in some ways they absolutely rose above the original, but in many others the game unfortunately took a few missteps. Regardless, it’s still just as thrilling and delicious as the first, just not without a fresh set of problems and concerns.
The game is set before and after the events of the first game, although focusing more on the latter. It chronicles the aftermath of the violent escapades of first game’s protagonist Jacket, and the infamy his actions have reached. However the game is totally bizarre with its delivery and order. While the first game was far from being a straightforward narrative thanks to its fitting ambiguity, distorted visual imagery and dreamlike nature, its linear structure helped it to be thought-provoking and paced well. In Hotline Miami 2 there are tons of playable characters and the game jumps between them as well as back and forth through time constantly, which can make it unnecessarily convoluted at times. While the colourful cast of characters and styles freshens the game up, the storytelling can come across as rather unfocused. Intentional perhaps, but potentially off-putting at worst. The writing though is great, and if you don’t mind the delivery of the story it’s easy to find yourself intrigued by it all, although the game does falter with its delivery of themes due to this, particularly those of the meaning behind it all.
Don’t let it ever be said that Hotline Miami isn’t a remarkable audio and visual experience, however, which is a huge part of why the original’s narrative worked so damn well. Hotline Miami 2 unquestionably continues this proudly, presenting one of the best soundtracks you’re likely to encounter in a game, easily outclassing the first game even. The sheer rush of adrenaline the audio can give you is often enough reason to keep playing all on its own, and honestly in few other places will you find violence so riveting. There’s a ton of variety in the techno music too, although its never shy to flare up and pound your eardrums with unforgettable tracks. On top of that the game presents a better atmosphere than its predecessor as levels have a greater sense of stylisation, with some for example featuring thunderous booms of lightning to complement the tracks. Visually it’s a slight upgrade too, and is certainly bloodier and more loud than before. It’s just stunning in motion.
- You’ll Be Able To Play (Expensive) PS2 Games On Your PS4 Now | 2 months ago
- Jessica Jones Disempowers Its Male Characters And The Effect Is Refreshing | 2 months ago
- Hell Is 30 000 Deathclaws Tearing Through Boston And It’s Glorious | 2 months ago
- Sony Santa Monica Is Teasing Something Truly Strange | 2 months ago
Hotline Miami 2 largely plays like the first, but with a few added weapons and some new mechanics and fresh experiences delivered via the wide variety of characters you’ll play. Each character has their own unique perk. For example Corey can execute a dodge roll, Alex and Ash feature as two characters with one wielding a chainsaw and the other guns, while Mark can duel wield two sub-machine guns and fire in two directions simultaneously. One character even uses a non-lethal approach, until you send him into a bloody frenzy after performing an execution. It’s great to experience the diverse cast and toy around with different setups, which help differentiate settings and levels. If you’re wondering, the mask mechanic from the first game still exists, but it has less of a presence and fits as a style for each character, rather than just as an approach you want to take. The gameplay is as mechanically solid as the first, although we did experience a few occasional control issues, such as sluggish aiming or the character overextending when trying to move slightly.
However while the core gameplay and hyper violence is as delicious as ever, there are numerous problems this time around which may put off certain fans of the original. Hotline Miami 2 spices things up by featuring large open levels, and the enemy count is far higher. While the challenge presented is fantastic and masochists will get to die a hell of a lot, these two forms of upscaling are a double-edged sword. In the first game dying meant backtracking some thirty seconds or a minute, due to the incredibly fast pacing and tight level design. Furthermore you sort of used everything you could get your hands on, and melee was never not an option. In Hotline Miami 2, by contrast, large open levels and tons of enemies often means you can die cheaply by armed enemies totally off your screen or get swarmed without enough to deal with it, and in these cases there’s only so much the manual camera shift can do. It feels like bad design rather than due to slow reflexes on your part. This can force a more cautious approach, and thus dying can leave you replaying several irritating minutes of bullet dodging, luring and flanking, with you relying more on luck than efficient trial-and-error.
The cautionary approach can make the game feel restrictive, and worse can result in an over-reliance on guns. There are actually some segments in the game where not having a gun can make things utterly overwhelming and frustrating as you try to deal with brutes who can’t be melee attacked, dogs and armed enemies all at once. In levels like these it almost feels like your options are painfully limited, and it goes against the fast-paced, don’t-think-just-act kind of gameplay the first championed. As a result there are moments where it just becomes frustrating rather than fun, which is something the first game never fell victim to due to its tight and smart level design. And if you’re a player who prefers the melee approach above all else, Hotline Miami 2 can feel like its working against you in many of its levels. However in spite of these flaws there are tons of moments where the game is every bit as fun and awesome as its predecessor, but it’s just a shame that in the case of Hotline Miami 2 opting to upscale in quantity and size as is typical of sequels led to a focus on some of the wrong things.
The subject of game length is not one that can be generalised, and every game has its own battle to face here. It’s unfortunate then that in the case of Hotline Miami 2 it felt as though the game overstayed its welcome somewhat. In addition to being longer than the first, the aforementioned larger levels, higher enemy count and slower playing style can make the game feel tiresome before its end, and a bit drawn out. If you do find yourself loving every minute of Hotline Miami 2, however, then you’d be pleased to know than on completion you unlock a hard mode, where enemies are more difficult to take down and the you lose helpful features like enemy-locking. It’s a great incentive for replayability for the masochists. Although the promised level editor may do that job all on its own, and it will release in due time. That may be exactly what those disappointed by some of the design decisions here need, as it will ideally allow them to craft more tightly focused levels akin to the original game.