PAX East 2014: Hotline Miami 2 Hands-On Preview

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Once in a long while a game comes along that’s the perfect mix of the old and new. In 2012, that game came in the form of Dennaton Games’ Hotline Miami which was highly praised for its tight gameplay and retro style. Now, two years later fans will get to revisit the brutally violent world that Dennaton has created. Taking place in the early 1990’s, Hotline Miami 2 puts you in the shoes of a group of fans of the first game’s events and as the trailers have shown, they take their fandom to a new level of obsession.

hotline-miami-2-gameplayThis past weekend at PAX East, I was able to play through a demo of the upcoming title and I walked away wanting more. Everything that was praised in the original is back as well as some tweaks to the formula that was so perfect the last time. For the demo I was given the option of selecting from some of the new characters; Corey has a zebra mask and features the nifty ability to do dodge rolls to avoid gunfire and get the upper hand in a firefight, Mark has a radical bear mask and can dual wield machine guns, while Alex & Ash are brothers wearing matching swan masks who use both a handgun and a chainsaw to dispatch enemies. The idea of controlling two characters at once immediately appealed to me so I went with the Swan Bros for my playthrough.

Let me state that playing a game with a keyboard and mouse does not come naturally to me, so re-acclimating myself to the WASDness of PC gaming took some time and caused me to die more than I would have if playing with a controller. That said, the controls for Alex & Ash, even in this unfinished form, were super intuitive and I never felt overwhelmed by the concept. Both characters move in tandem with each other so there’s no confusion as to where a certain character is going. I have a feeling these will be the characters I’ll use the most once the game releases later this year, since the perk of having both melee and projectile weapons on hand at all times is a helpful addition to the series. The two weapons are mapped to either mouse button and once the gun runs out of ammo, Ash will pick up another one off of a recently downed foe.

Rushing into a room and quickly murdering enemies left and right was one of the joys of the original game and with the addition ofhotline2screen2 the chainsaw/gun mechanic it’s all the more brutal/satisfying. I would sprint into a room, decapitate a guard with the chainsaw and quickly shoot the thug that just turned the corner. The level of achievement and feeling of total badassery was another highlight of playing as Alex & Ash that made me wish the demo wouldn’t end. Thankfully, it didn’t after the first level as I was quickly whisked away to one of Hotline’s classic playable cut-scenes with dialogue far too cryptic to understand right off the bat. Expect the story of Hotline 2 to be just as strange as its predecessor, which is to be expected from the guys at Dennaton.

In terms of sequels, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, at first glance could be taken as just more of the same but with the addition of those new abilities and gameplay tweaks its looking to be a natural evolution for the series. Though I died numerous times as evidenced in the video, I thoroughly enjoyed my brief time with the game. Hotline Miami 2 is shaping up to be a worthy successor to the original runaway hit when it releases later this year for Steam, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 3 . The hype is real, folks, the hype is real.

Lifelong gamer from the Garden State. From Atari 2600 to the Wii U...He's seen some things and had some radical adventures along the way. You can follow him on Twitter @TheRealMattC or e-mail him directly via Matt@LevelSave.com.
  • IamWeapon

    Watching the video and man, that soundtrack is still so rad.