While I don’t often review games here on my blog, it’s safe to say that anytime that I’m not listening to an album or eating my bodyweight in cheese, I’m playing a videogame. As a student though, a poor one at that, games aren’t as easy to come by for me as splashing out £30+ on something that may or may not be good tends to be too risky.
That’s what first drove me to picking up Hotline Miami from the Playstation Network: at £7.99 I’d be an idiot to turn down this bargain, especially for a game that has been praised by multiple gaming outlets since its release. Thankfully, the hype was worth it as Hotline Miami is one of the most enjoyable yet frustrating games I’ve ever played.
Like any good article that is trying to convince you to purchase something, I’ll start off with the strongest point and weirdly enough, it’s one that I’ll have an easy enough time talking about. Yes, the music stealing the show in a video-game may trigger some alarm bells as after all, that tends to be an argument that is used when justifying the existence of Sonic 06.
Just like the game itself, Hotline Miami has a soundtrack very much inspired by 1980’s culture, techno beats and heavy synthesisers a plenty. Some songs feel like they were taken right out of the neo-noir crime film Drive with one track being the spitting image of said film’s best known track Real Hero, melody intact.
While you might say that the music is a complete rip-off, you couldn’t be more wrong as the music perfectly complements the simple to learn but hard to master gameplay. Story-driven this game is not and I’ll avoid mentioning it as 1) spoilers and 2) it’s best to be experienced rather than told. Anyway, back to the gameplay and here we find ourselves with a top down shooter, not in the vain of some of the high octane bullet hell games that appear from Japan.
No, Hotline Miami can be tackled in the same kind of way as last year’s MGS V: you can strategically plan every detail of your plan to eliminate all enemies or you can go in guns blazing, mask firmly on. The aforementioned music is your source of adrenaline here, heavy beats accompanying the satisfying crunch of your fist hitting an enemy’s face.
It may sound simple but Hotline Miami gets far more frustrating as the game progresses with a one hit kill system working for both you and the enemies which levels the playing field. However, you’ll find yourself throwing your controller on the ground in anger when a lone soldier decides to foil your plan mere seconds before a perfect execution.
Things like conveniently placed machetes and such will give you a bit of an advantage as well as the masks which give certain abilities like the horse one which upgrades your door kicking ability from “sleepy time” to “coma time”. You’ll find yourself playing levels repeatedly not only to beat your previous score but to unlock more masks and weapons to spice up your killing.
While not perfect by any means (average bosses and an out of the blue difficulty spike sour the game), Hotline Miami really is the full package for me: a story that is as enthralling as you want it to be, replay value, addictive gameplay and a vibrant, catchy soundtrack. Don’t be like me and stumble upon this game years after everyone. Get it now.
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