Erik Fattrosso ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
A few years ago, Hotline Miami was released on Steam to widespread acclaim. Its top-down ultraviolence combined with the fantastic soundtrack and brutal difficulty made it a game to remember. Is the second foray into this madhouse of trial and error just as good as the original? It is. Better, in fact.
Hotline Miami 2, like its predecessor, is fundamentally a trial-and-error twitch shooter. The flashy graphics and booming electronic soundtrack serve only to enhance the second-to-second gameplay. At the beginning of each level, you’re dropped onto a floor full of enemies. If you get hit, you die and start again. Clear the floor to progress. It sounds simple—and it is—but a variety of playable characters and weapons keep the game interesting throughout its 25 levels and unlockable hard mode. Different characters have different abilities that change the way you play through levels. One level you may have a character that can’t use weapons, but his punches kill. In another you’re a soldier who is able to switch between melee weapons and firearms at any point. The most interesting character is actually two characters you play at once. One has a chainsaw and the other a firearm, each operated by a different mouse button.
The variety here is much more than the masks in the first game, and all the characters feel useful. The drawback, however, is that the stages feel more restrictive. Where in the first game you can choose between various masks in any level (masks that grant certain abilities), this time around each level has a certain character that you are required to use. The upside is that the levels are designed around specific abilities, but the freedom is a little missed.
Unlike the vague and ambiguous story from the first game, this time around it’s more straightforward. It jumps back and forth between past and present a bit, but it gets the job done. You won’t remember it once you finish, but it does enough to get you to each level. The music that the series is known for is better than ever, and you find yourself listening to some of the songs long after you stop playing. Visually, the pixelated style works well and you’ll feel like a certified badass when you finally figure out the best way to carve through a level. Looking back at a floor and seeing upwards of 20 bleeding corpses is one of the most well-earned feelings of satisfaction you can get in gaming.
If you liked Hotline Miami, you’ll like Hotline Miami 2. It’s as simple as that. It builds on the foundation of the first game with added variety and difficulty, but it won’t change your opinion on the series. If you were turned off of the first one due its violence, challenge, or some other reason, those same things are very much present here. But if you were a fan, this is a perfect follow up that you shouldn’t hesitate to play.
Final Score – 9/10