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Review: Hotline Miami – Call Me Deadly

Written by Matt Curione

[gameinfo title=”Game Info” game_name=”Hotline Miami” developers=”Dennaton Games” publishers=”Devolver Digital” platforms=”PS3 & PS Vita” genres=”Top-Down Brutality Simulator” release_date=”Available Now”]

2011 saw the release of the film Drive, and it became an instant favorite for myself and many others. A lot of people took notice of Nicolas Winding Refn’s mesmerizing film, especially it seems Jonatan Söderström and Dennis Wedin of Dennaton Games, as Hotline Miami is love letter to the almost beautiful brutality of that film.

Originally released on PC in October of 2012 and subsequently nominated for and winning a slew of year end awards, Hotline Miami has finally made its long awaited debut on both Playstation 3 & PS Vita. A top-down, thinking man’s Smash TV, Hotline Miami is one of the very best reasons to own a PS Vita.

Hotline Miami follows the dark, David Lynchian story of an unnamed character, nicknamed Jacket due to his attire, that starts to receive strange phone calls from a cabal of mask wearing individuals. These calls prompt you to go to various locations and eliminate everyone in a stage in order to proceed. These calls are never fully explained unless you’re able to unlock the secret ending by finding the carefully hidden puzzle pieces found in various levels. I’d definitely recommend seeking out the “real” ending however, since the standard ending essentially does nothing to explain all the madness.

Hotline Gameplay

Played from an overhead perspective and featuring retro graphics, Hotline isn’t the prettiest game I’ve played but it also has no need to be. Best described as a “Stealth Puzzle Shooter,” sneaking around and tracking enemies while finding the right combination of weapons needed is paramount to getting high grades in every level. Grades are a really cool aspect of the game, where you’re ranked on just how quickly you finished a level, how many times you were exposed and how brutal you were. You also score points for each successful kill and higher scores can unlock a variety of different masks for use in the game. Each mask features the visage of an animal (Ex. Bull, Octopus, Cobra.) and grants you different abilities like speed and barehanded one-hit kills.

Abstraction Games, who was responsible for the port, have done a fantastic job with both versions. They’ve been able to take the PC standard of a mouse and keyboard and translate it to the DualShock 3 and Vita with great results. The PS3’s aiming controls can feel a little floaty at times but the real gem here is the Vita version thanks to the intuitive touch screen lock-on feature that’s been implemented. Though it certainly decreases the difficulty a tad, it does nothing to diminish the experience on the Vita’s gorgeous OLED screen.

The new controls on Vita are so precise that I’m not sure how I ever played this on PC, Hotline Miami seems almost tailor-made for the handheld’s dual analog sticks. Aiming is a breeze, even without the new touchscreen lock-on. Taking advantage of Sony’s Cross-Buy promotion as well as Cross-Save functionality was a stroke of genius on the developers’ part, Hotline makes for a great time at home and on the go.

Hotline Miami is a fantastic blast from an imagined past and I honestly couldn’t recommend it more. With an insanely immersive soundtrack that demands headphones and gameplay that defines hardcore, this is one of the best indie releases in recent years. I’d go as far to say that the Vita version is the definitive version of the game and at only $10 will feel right at home in your bloody little mitts.

[checklist]The Good

  • Retro Style
  • Wierd Story
[/checklist][badlist]The Bad

  • Floaty PS3 controls
  • Easy Boss Fights
[/badlist]

[button color=”blue” link=””]Must Play[/button] Must Play: A game that receives a “Must Play” rating may not necessarily be perfection – no game truly is – but it is something that the editor believes must be played by you. They will not hesitate to tell you to right that instant. Example: The Last of Us, Journey

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About the author

Matt Curione

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.

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