If you have a PS Vita, go buy Hotline Miami.
Ok, my editor says I need more than that… FINE!
Alright, where was I? Oh yes, Hotline Miami. Sorry, playing this game has made me mental. Or, more mental. Anyways.
So, Hotline Miami. I haven’t had this much fun mindlessly killing things since, well, I can’t talk about that. But it’s a lot of fun. By that, I mean Hotline Miami… the game. Here, give me a minute or two for my meds to kick in.
Ahh, that’s better.
Hotline Miami is a 2D action game, top-down just like you like it. Dennaton Games have packed several hours of brutal murder into this sweet little package, and it is glorious. Plug in some headphones before you start, because you will want to bask in this game’s soundtrack. You’re rewarded as much by getting to hear more of the soundtrack as you are anything else by getting through each level. The game’s sound effects tie in so well with the music you might think the gun shots and skull bashing sounds were meant to be there.
The game is divided up into chapters, with the chapters broken up into individual stages. This works very well on the Vita if you just want to bang out a stage while you’re waiting. Even better, this makes the difficulty of the game easier to deal with. You will die, and you will die a lot. You will start back at the beginning of the stage almost instantly, ready to try again.
While the game is available on both the PS3 and the Vita, with cross-buy so you can play on either platform, I found the game played best on the Vita. The controls felt better and the just-one-more-turn-and-then-I’ll-go-to-bed-oh-my-god-it’s-4am gameplay and the Vita’s ability to instantly pick up from your last spot mesh very well. Of course, pumping the soundtrack through my receiver is nice too. But for the many gamers who are also parents, the personal screen to unleash your murder on away from the eyes of your progeny is a good thing. Of course, the cloud saves plus cross buy mean that if you own both a PS3 and a Vita, you can play the game on both platforms interchangeably. That’s pretty awesome.
The gameplay of Hotline Miami is pretty simple. You wake up to find an answering message with instructions. Those instructions are essentially to go to the next location and take out some enemies. When you get there, the stage has varying numbers of enemies moving about. Your job is to get through the stage, killing each enemy by whatever means necessary without dying. The “without dying” is the tough part, since all it takes is one hit for your enemies to kill you. One small slip and you’re back to the start of the stage to try again. On one hand, you will survive better by being more cautious and stealthy in your approach. On the other hand, chaining multiple kills together and mixing up your mayhem will earn you a higher score. For the highest scores, you will need a clear strategy, blazing fast reflexes and excellent timing.
The controls are pretty easy to pick up if you’ve ever played a twin stick shooter. The left analog stick moves your character around, the right stick rotates your character and the right trigger button attacks. Without a weapon, you will have to move over to your enemy and tap X to finish them off. You can pick up weapons from your fallen foes with the left trigger button, and then kills are instant. As you will be warned, guns are loud and will draw your enemies to you. This is bad. Sticking to melee attacks is usually your best strategy.
As you progress through the game you will unlock new weapons and new masks. Before each stage you will choose which mask to wear. Each mask beyond your initial mask have unique effects that give you different bonuses or alter the gameplay slightly. Some masks can be found or unlocked just through normal gameplay, others require high scores on certain levels. Some weapons that are unlocked can effect your strategies, like the silenced firearms.
The atmosphere of Hotline Miami is great. While the retro 2D top-down environments aren’t much different than an old school RPG or adventure game, the visual filters, soundtrack and ultra violence really make you feel less like an adventuring hero and more like you’re slowly becoming a murderer-for-hire with a tenuous grip on sanity.
If you’ve already played the PC version that released last fall, unless you are hopelessly addicted to the game and need to be able to play it in your living room or on the go, I’m not sure that there is much here for you that you haven’t already experienced. The PS3 and Vita versions include an exclusive mask, and the Vita’s touch screen can be used to survey the stage to help advise your strategies, but beyond the other benefits I’ve mentioned, the game is otherwise identical.
But if you haven’t experienced Hotline Miami, go download it. Have some anti-psychotics handy, just in case, but this is not a game to miss.