Intro- I’m just going to keep swinging my fists and walking in your direction, if they happen to hit you in the face it’s your own fault. Remember that game when we were kids, or is it just me? Hotline Miami takes some of the most raw and unforgiving gameplay mechanics derived from street fights and brings them together into a game that will put hair on your chest. In Hotline Miami you are a killer who takes out mansions full of goons who are obsessed with rave club music and putting chicks into bathtubs. Not exactly a hero, you once did this for revenge. Now your anger, hatred, and passion are all blurring into one sadistic blend of combat.
Story- It’s Miami, it’s 1989. “Question Your Own Thirst For Bloodshed”- You’ve lost your mind, the calls keep coming in and they have driven you to kill. Miami’s criminal underworld is just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and honestly you would probably be ready to take out anybody just about now. That’s why Hotline Miami is the game where you are an unlikely hero. The odds are against you. You’re un-armed, out-numbered, and all you’ve got to go on is your rage. Constantly throughout the game, your character is just trying to chill and have a good day. However, messages keep coming through his mailbox, phone calls keep taunting him with random words that he doesn’t even place meaning to anymore. Vague mentions are given about a lost girlfriend, but for those who would cry spoiler alert we shall say no more about that.
The weight of the world is weighing on our main character’s shoulders as his mind slowly but inevitably cracks from whatever is going on within that forces him to not change his phone number and instead take his rage out through murdering people. Hotline Miami doesn’t force the story on you much, you can just skip through it if you want to enjoy the gameplay instead. If you really look into it though, there are psychological tendencies and behavioral mind programming references being made by the game’s emotion-evoking soundtrack and art direction (not to mention your character’s news paper clippings, yikes). It really makes you strongly think about responding to wrong numbers ever again. Equipped with a deep story even if just there to serve its purpose, Hotline Miami’s gameplay is where this title really shines.
Gameplay- Hotline Miami for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita is a pulverizing rendition of the original hardcore brawler seen from a bird’s eye view. Your first mission starts you off beating enemies down and using their own weapons against them by picking them up off the ground before they get up. You can bust through doors to tackle opponents and then swing or throw bats, steel pipes, and this is all just in the first level. As soon as it’s mission complete, guess again. Samurai swords will chop you in half. The people you’re up against are pretty much high life mafia types, so you better believe a few exotic weapons are around and some deadly dogs to boot.
You just killed the last one, jacked him of his briefcase, and now creeping around corners and beating people down into a bloody pulp with that briefcase is the only thing standing between yourself and death. You’ll start off ducking and weaving, but quickly you’ll learn a more aggressive strategy pays off. Boldness is actually beneficial to you in taking out as many enemies as you can in a short time. But as the levels become more advanced you will have to learn better maneuvers and identify when to bring a knife to a gunfight and when not to.
Leave no witnesses when you ride off in your car to the next mission. If anybody tries to act like a hero, figure out their weakness and put them in the dirt. In between missions stop at stash spots and fight their owners for what’s good inside. You’ll also sometimes hit other stops along the way for gear or just to see some people who feel like they know you. At the end of each mission, your points will be tallied up and divided into sections including Killings, Boldness, Combos, Time Bonus, Flexibility, and Mobility. Weapons unlock based on points as well. High scores to unlock masks. Combos, Executions, Door Slams, Double Exposure, and more is also counted up with your play style rated with ratings such as “Generic” and “Combo Trainee”, the time it took you to beat the game, and a Letter Grade rating such as B+.
Sometimes you kill so good you might puke a little. It’s just another day stomping out fools that think they’re slick. Normal, but in Hotline Miami the difficulty increases around every corner. Mastering the world around you and what you can do to your enemies becomes the key to survival and ramps up the fun factor with each successful massacre. Don’t get your head blown off! Things go from melee to machine gun quickly in this game. You’ll find yourself surprising your own senses with the gruesome combos you pull off hacking and thumping away at opponents, which are much better faced off-guard if possible. There’s everything from throwing knives into people’s heads to bashing their faces into the ground, to shotguns. You’ll need to be resourceful if you expect to survive Hotline Miami. The intensity keeps your blood boiling as you take your rage out on enemies and feel the triumph of rising above the sometimes instant killing barrage you’re forced up against.
Controls- If you’re playing on the PlayStation Vita, you’ll be able to lock on to opponents using the touch-screen controls. On the PS3 console you can cycle through lock-ons by pressing L3. This is mostly useful for picking people off with limited ammo after a gunfight. I found it more productive to just use the left and right thumb-sticks manually controlling my character while timing my attacks and the orientation of my character in tandem. Hotline Miami makes every second a decision of stealth gameplay versus aggressive gameplay and constantly being aware of who has what in their hands as enemies scramble to pick up weapons as you scramble to finish them off.
Characters / Enemies- The artificial intelligence knows when to psyche you out and often times you’ll find yourself dying over and over again until you can discipline your fingers to hit exactly the right timing. Precision pays off however, and this is not one of those “artificial difficulty” scenarios in gaming. Hotline Miami is a true gamers’ game, rewarding skills over luck by being brutally reliant on your ability to master its offered techniques. The pace at which new enemies are introduced pretty much makes or breaks this game and Dennaton Games nailed it. You never figure it out to the point where it’s boring, there’s enough seemingly random cause and effect to keep things challenging and interesting. You can indulge yourself by trying a scene out Rambo style over and over until it works, or you can bring your tactics into play and go for speed or stealth.
Graphics / Art Direction- Hotline Miami’s graphics and art direction are satisfying to look at for old school gamers and new alike. Inspired by retro games and enhanced by modern filters and backed by a solid set of animations, this game just looks good. If there were only one way to see the game’s graphics (default) it would be a great game as it stands, but some of the different masks available give the player an alternative artistic rendering of the game. The levels that have been drawn here paired with the creative ideas from developer Dennaton Games are enough to satisfy even the most feature-spoiled gamer. Thanks to these great works of art this game flows fast and smooth, and the nature of each stage lends itself to new gameplay dynamics.
Soundtrack / Audio- Excellence- Well above average quality tunes that keep you in the mood to kill without giving you a headache.
Replay Ability- High- In total there are over 25 different ‘masks’ which serve as different alterations to the game to be unlocked including PlayStation exclusive Russel Mask (for creepy cool ‘b/w and Blood Vision’), Dennis Mask (start off with a knife), Aubrey Mask (for more guns!) which you can play through the entire game with extending the replay value through the roof in terms of creating new play-throughs out of the campaign’s different lenses, and more. To top it off for Replay Ability, Hotline Miami also sports Trophies and Leader-boards also track which one of your friends is the best at each stage, and will brag about which mask was used to get that ranking as well.
Engine Performance- Solid- No glitches were experienced during our play-throughs. During gameplay this game runs at a solid frame-rate and has no input lag to speak of. The result is Hotline Miami feels like a premium arcade action experience. The games physics are also great, lend to intuitive skill progression, and remind us of many other old school and/or indie-style games which is always nostalgic.
Final Verdict- My hand hurts and I can’t stop playing! Hotline Miami is a testament to everything the game industry needs to re-learn about itself from great gameplay to an experience that is truly intense, personal, and fun. This game gets a 10 out of 10 and will have you giving your DualShock or Vita the cobra grip. We challenged ourselves to but could not find a single thing to mark Hotline Miami down on points, if you are a gamer- get this now- this game receives the official RGN Rating of Diamond Game.
Overall Score: 10/10
RGN Rating: Diamond Game
Developer: Dennaton Games / Publisher: Devolver Digital
Now Available On: Sony PlayStation 3 / PlayStation Vita
Also Available On: Computer
Review Copy Info: A digital voucher was provided to RealGamerNewz by the publisher for the purposes of this Review.
Editor’s Note: RealGamerNewZ has moved web servers, some older posts can no longer be commented on and have been preserved without their images. Thank you for your understanding in this matter. This article was written by Jon Ireson on 20130625 and was last modified on 20130625 .