Insanity, bright colours and blood. Lots and lots of blood.
Insane, bloody, ultra violent fun. That pretty much sums up Hotline Miami in a few words. After coming out for the PC towards the end of last year, the game has now made the jump over to the PS3 and Vita, and this is the ideal game for picking up and playing on the go. Provided there aren’t any kids in the area, of course.
Hotline Miami is a 2D, top down action game. You play an unnamed character who keeps receiving seemingly ordinary answering machine messages, asking you to perform a mundane task at a specific location. However, in actual fact, your task once you get to the building in question is to maim and kill everything and everyone in there and get out again.
The game is divided up into several parts, with each part made up of a number of chapters, themselves split into a number of stages. Before you start each chapter, you have to choose a mask to wear. Each mask effects the game play in a significant way, meaning you can return to the start of the chapter and change your mask to use a different strategy if you wish. Your aim is to either get through each stage as stealthily as possible, or just try and go on a mad rampage, killing everything. The rampage route is a lot tougher, as you can only take one shot or hit from an enemy before you die, and you are outnumbered. However, the more reckless approach does give you more points and a higher grade at the end, which allows you to unlock new weapons and masks more quickly. The more stealthy approach will get you through more quickly overall, usually. But whichever way you to choose to play the game, you will die, and die frequently.
There is a vast array of weapons within the game, with limited ammo guns, throwing weapons and melee weapons to use. All weapons can be thrown as well to knock enemies down, so once your gun is out of ammo, you can hit an enemy in the head with it and run over to finish them off.
The enemies are usually predictable in their movements. Some will stand still until there’s a disturbance, some will patrol a room in a strict square, so you can time your kills accordingly. The increase in difficulty as you progress is pretty smooth as well. Once you’ve cleared a floor within a chapter, the next floor will act as a checkpoint, so dying will just send you back to the start of the current floor, with whatever weapon you had at the start. New enemies will be introduced, like dogs who can jump you very quickly, or big burly gangsters who can only be killed with guns, and won’t be affected by melee attacks.
All the violence and death is set in a colourful, retro style with a lot of different environments to go through, ranging from simple houses to hospitals, dance clubs and museums. There’s great visual filters as well as a fantastic soundtrack as you go about your business. It all adds to the retro Miami vibe of the game.
Hotline Miami is a hugely addictive game, and really does urge you to have another go, and is massively fun and insane. The structure of the game is well suited to the Vita platform, allowing you to play bits and pieces as you have time. If you prefer to have a long stretch playing at home, it’s cross buy, so you get both PS3 and Vita versions, with save data transferring between them, allowing you to pick up exactly where you left off.
Hotline Miami is probably one of the most outright fun games I’ve played so far this year. It’s pick up and play, quick shot game play is the perfect fit for the Vita. The controls take a bit of getting used to, admittedly, but the game’s over the top story, end of level grading system and balanced difficulty curve will keep you hooked in. The cross-buy option makes it great for people who want to play at home and on the go too. If you haven’t experienced the madness that is Hotline Miami yet, pick it up and dive right in, the water’s fine. And crimson coloured.