There’s nothing artistic about maiming wave after wave of enemies. But there is an opportunity to be somewhat creative about it and this is where Hotline Miami excels. From a top-down perpective you’re tasked with clearing buildings full of ruthless gangs, armed at the start with just your fists and a mask. As you sneak or lure enemies one by one to their doom Hotline Miami gives a great deal of sadistic satisfaction as the blood of one helpless soul splashes in an all manner of directions.
“there’s nothing quite like winning, especially when ‘winning’ means bashing someone’s head off with a baseball bat”
As you make your way through a typical chapter you’ll nonchalantly start by waking up, then driving to your destination to perform the killing before stopping off at a pizzeria or video shop to rent a movie for the night. Hotline Miami’s fantastic change of pace is such a simple recognition of needing a slight come down after the high-octane and extremely fast paced moving bloodbath action. Even being killed doesn’t stop it, half a second later and your straight back in the action – it’s non-stop and I found it difficult to put it down.
The weapons you have on offer give you a plentitude of options on how to deal with your prey. The hunters truly become the hunted after you’ve bust through that first door and arm yourself with a shotgun after taking down the first few enemies. Hotline Miami manages to mix it up throughout with clear glass windows catching me out constantly. It forced me to not only keep my eye on just the room I’m entering, but also adjacent ones. A neat gameplay trick then kept me thinking at every turn.
The game itself will last you just a few hours, but at the budget price it’s been launched at there isn’t much to grumble about, especially when the punch it packs is such high quality. After the main game is finished there’s still the addictiveness of jumping straight back in and trying to beat your highest score.
Hotline Miami also comes packed with a soundtrack that’s rich with the retro groove that the game emanates with at every turn. It’s delightful, almost hypnotic soundtrack is so entrancing I found myself slaughtering enemies to the rhythm at times. In fact when you initially boot up the game on the PS Vita it tells you it’s best played with earphones – an experience I truly recommend you indulge in.
An added bonus about this release of Hotline Miami is that it’s cross-buy as well. So purchasing the game on the PS3 unlocks the PS Vita version, cross-save is also included. Throughout my playthrough I used cross-save and unlike some other games there were no problems at all with how the feature worked. Overall though I would recommend playing the PS Vita version, as the quick witted nature of Hotline Miami works wonderfully on a handheld system. That’s not to say the PS3 version is worse off, but Vita would be my personal preference if I had to make a decision. It’s a great addition to Vita’s growing library of games.
Hotline Miami does come with some frustrations, getting repeatedly hit by the same guy over and over again can be a real grind and some of the tougher sections are quite frankly brutal. But in the end, the reward justifies the frustration, there’s nothing quite like winning, especially when ‘winning’ in Hotline Miami means bashing someone’s head off with a baseball bat.
Hotline Miami is available on the PSN now in the US for $8.99 and £6.49/€7.99 in Europe.