Critical Hit: Hotline Miami
Quick Breakdown: A hyper-violent top down action game, with quick, brutal action.
Length: 5-8 hours
Full Review: Hotline Miami is an extremely violent action game, played from a top down perspective with retro styled graphics and an 80’s influenced visuals, soundtrack, and setting. It can get quite trippy at times. You play an unnamed character that begins to receive mysterious phone calls from an unknown source. The calls simply tell you to go to a location and kill the people there (they happen to be Russian mobsters), and for whatever inexplicable reason, you listen.
This of course is the real beauty of the game, the top down, ultra-violent action. Once you show up at a location it’s you, your enemies, and the various weapons you have at your murderous disposal: fists, baseball bats, crowbars, knives, and an assortment of different guns. You die in one hit, and in most cases so do your enemies. This causes the game to often turn into a frantic adrenaline fueled rush of bullets and blood.
This means you will die a lot. You must clear stages in one life, dying will force you to restart the stage. Stages are not very long, so a successful run will go quickly, but the amount of dying will prolong your completion time. Despite the number of deaths you will incur, the game never feels very difficult, though that may be more the quick and short nature of the stages obfuscating the difficulty.
That said, things are not always a mad rush towards carnage. Success will require you to tactically plan how to eliminate all your foes. A gun will allow you to kill someone from a distance, but the noise of the gunshot will attract more enemies, who may be packing heat of their own. A quick rush towards them with a crowbar will kill them silently, but they may notice you and retaliate before you manage to bash their skull in. Or maybe you should slam that door into the other bloke in the room below you first and worry about this chap later. This balance of planning, sneaking around, and quick action helps make the game very enjoyable.
A few quick criticisms though, the game does not properly support higher resolutions, as they will either feature black bars on the top and bottom and/or sides, or not display correctly at all. (The highest I could get it to run was at 1280 x 720, which still had black bars on the top and bottom on my 1920 x 1080 monitor). Second, the options lack any sort of things to tweak, so if you want to remap the controls, you’re out of luck. Thankfully, the default controls work pretty well, but it’s still pretty lame that you can’t change them. Third, and this pertains to the gameplay itself, while the levels themselves are great fun the boss fights aren’t up to par and well, frankly the boss fights suck. Which is a shame considering how much fun the levels themselves are to play.
All said and done though, Hotline Miami is a blast to play, and well worth your money. Go ahead, answer the phone and get to killing some mobsters.
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