Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number

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Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number Review

3
  • PS4
  • PSNV
  • PC

Hotline Miami's thrillingly brutal gameplay is stretched to the point of breaking in this aesthetically pleasing, but otherwise disappointing sequel.

Hotline Miami was an exquisitely nasty good time. Its premise was simple: a killer receives phone messages from mysterious third parties, each instructing him to go to a place, enter, and kill everyone inside. How you went about killing everyone inside was left largely up to you. Every locale presented the player with a kind of homicidal brain teaser: What mixture of guns, melee weapons, and environmental kills can I use to most quickly eliminate every target without taking a single hit? Player death was frequent and encouraged, to the point where tapping on the level reset button morphed from repeated annoyance into reflexive action, a vital step in the game's intoxicating dance of death and dismemberment.

Hotline Miami asked players if they liked hurting people. Hotline Miami 2 assumes the answer to that question was a resounding yes.
Hotline Miami asked players if they liked hurting people. Hotline Miami 2 assumes the answer to that question was a resounding yes.

Hotline Miami also knew when to quit. Clocking in at just a few hours of play, the developers at Dennaton built Hotline Miami to be a ruthlessly efficient experience, focused primarily on getting the player in and out of each stage with minimal bullshit to distract from the core concept of blisteringly paced murdering. This is part of what makes Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number a disappointment. This sequel is obsessed with enlarging everything about the original, often at the expense of said efficiency. Wrong Number bolts on considerable length to every element of Hotline Miami's design, and as a result feels bloated and out of sorts. Pieces of it periodically capture the spirit and energy of the original game--most notably the soundtrack and art design, which are as hypnotic as ever--but just as often, Hotline Miami 2 comes across like a meandering, more verbose retread of its predecessor.

That isn't to say that Hotline Miami 2 is bereft of excitement. There are moments peppered throughout the game's 26 scenes that match the level of disturbing (yet thrilling) frenzy Hotline Miami was so good at delivering. In those moments, the visual design, pulsating beats, and breakneck action all swirl together into blood-soaked delirium, reminding you of how Hotline Miami got its hooks in you to begin with. But those truly terrific moments are delivered inconsistently throughout Hotline Miami 2, and they're often book-ended by sequences that turn that psychedelic frenzy into teeth-gnashing frustration.

It's not enough to just say that Hotline Miami 2 is a more difficult game than the first. It's why the game is more difficult that negates a lot of the fun. Nearly every stage in Hotline Miami 2 is a great deal larger than anything in the first game, and along with that increased real estate comes a greater abundance of bad guys to take out. I said in my review of Hotline Miami that its level designs were just the right length, that "were each level to drag on just a bit longer, the game would give way to irritating repetition." That's essentially what's happened in Hotline Miami 2. Sussing out each floor layout takes many, many tries, and all too often you'll find yourself splayed out on the ground because you failed to notice a shooter in a far back corner that picked you off entirely off-screen, or because a dog that happened to blend in with the dim stage lighting caught you unawares.

It's stuff like this that makes Hotline Miami 2 more often a chore than a pleasure to progress through. Level designs often go heavy on windowed rooms, scaling down the number of useful hiding places you can use to plot your next course. And even when you are in a seemingly functional hiding spot, there's often some guy off in the distance that manages to snipe you before you even know he's there. Enemy AI is troublesome as well. Blast a nearby foe and watch as guys from three rooms away start bolting toward you, yet the guy in the room right next to you remains unmoved. You'll see enemies (especially dogs) get hung up in doorways, spinning around endlessly until you put them out of their misery.

Whether by design or not, Hotline Miami 2 too often works against the kind of freeform action that made the original so compelling. I'm not suggesting it's impossible to fly through Hotline Miami 2's levels--I've seen plenty of videos that show players briskly laying waste to hordes of enemies and scoring highly for their efforts--but the barrier to getting to that point is much, much higher this time around, and for my part, I didn't find it to be worth the effort. In Hotline Miami, I often found myself slamming dudes with doors, flinging weapons around, and pouncing for execution moves in bursts of movement that came almost without thinking. In Hotline Miami 2, I mostly found myself slowly peeking around corners, carefully examining every corner of the environment in the hopes of avoiding unseen shooters, locking onto enemies with the auto-target and trying to create choke points for waves of bad guys I knew would inevitably come running the second I let a shot ring out. In Hotline Miami, I could clear whole floors just using melee weapons, never using a gun for anything but a fling-able object. In Hotline Miami 2, I don't think I ever cleared a stage without using a gun unless the game specifically prevented me from using one.

Wrong Number's larger level designs make guns a far more vital component than in the first game.
Wrong Number's larger level designs make guns a far more vital component than in the first game.

This is the primary way that Hotline Miami 2 attempts to differentiate itself from the first game. It sets up its story through multiple character viewpoints, and builds its levels around specific abilities tied to each character. One character, for instance, can only punch people to death, whereas another can only use non-lethal attacks (and becomes an enraged psychopath if you do try to pull off a killing move). These variances in abilities take away a bit of the improvisational spirit of the original, though not entirely. There are still character specific perks tied to masks (or other objects) which can radically change how you approach a stage.

There's something laudable in the notion of forcing players to change up their style, to keep them from falling into a comfortable, one-size-fits-all approach. That said, it's an idea I like better in concept than in execution. I'll admit a certain satisfaction in running through a stage, obliterating enemies with fists perpetually akimbo. But having a character who can only use one gun (and only refill ammo at conservatively placed crates) is little more than an obnoxious barrier, and trying to move a pair of chainsaw-and-gun-wielding psychopaths around proved to be as profoundly irritating an experience as I've ever had in one of these games, thanks to the second character's predisposition to getting hung up on the scenery.

The game presents these characters as integral pieces of a larger, more convoluted fiction, all surrounding "Jacket," the deluded killer from the original. Some of the characters you play as include a reckless police detective, a true crime writer, the son of the Russian mob boss, an actor hired to play Jacket in the film version of the first game's story, a military operative fighting off a Russian invasion of Hawaii, and a gang of killers who consider themselves "fans" of Jacket's exploits. The story is told in nonlinear fashion, jumping from time period to time period as each scene metes out a bit more insight into how these various personalities relate to the events of the original game. However, the effectiveness of each story arc varies wildly. The nonlinear structure does the plot no favors in terms of coherence, but the bigger issue is that the game has little to say about anything beyond itself, and spends a lot of time saying it.

Hotline Miami's story essentially amounted to a loose assemblage of trippy imagery strung together by occasional moments of introspective guilt-tripping. Hotline Miami 2 tries to flesh those few dangling threads of plot out into a wordier, weirder saga, and the result is only rarely of any great interest. It presumes that players were dying to know about all the ins-and-outs of Jacket's backstory, where the mysterious 50 Blessings militia group came from, and just what it all means, man.

Whatever revelations Hotline Miami 2 has are largely self-indulgent, and what shocks it delivers feel mostly empty. Take, for example, the game's opening scene, a brief sequence of sexual assault that immediately flips into a reveal of movie set fakery. The scene was a point of controversy leading up to the game's release, and it comes with a menu prompt asking if you want to disable viewing it entirely. That this prompt exists is less an indictment of any outrage directed at the game, and more of the scene's necessity in the first place. It, alongside the majority of the "movie" section of the plot, feels entirely superfluous, a combination of disorienting fake-outs and cheap shocks that never amount to much. Other areas of the story come together better, but none of it ever approaches the elegant ambiguity of the first game. Hotline Miami 2 succeeds only in spreading out the fiction of the series, without ever improving upon it.

It's understandable that Dennaton would want to fashion Wrong Number into something other than just
It's understandable that Dennaton would want to fashion Wrong Number into something other than just "more Hotline Miami," but the divergences this sequel takes aren't often to the game's benefit.

Leaden as the plot can be, Hotline Miami 2 is still incredibly effective at building atmosphere. The game's visual design builds nicely on the neon nightmare aesthetic Hotline Miami established, especially in the game's final stage, where the designers finally give in to Hotline Miami's psychedelic undercurrent and go full drug-trip in one of the most visually arresting scenes I've played in a long time. Even better is the soundtrack, which marks a huge improvement over the already excellent array of songs found in the original. Music was the motor that kept Hotline Miami's murder treadmill going, and Dennaton has curated an amazing list of songs for the sequel. It's a diverse soundtrack that spans multiple genres, but heavily leans toward that particular subgenre of electronica you usually hear in movies where a lone wolf cop is stalking a serial killer through a seedy, crowded dance club. As a standalone playlist, it's terrific, but it's even better in the context of the in-game action.

If only that action were more consistently enjoyable. When Hotline Miami 2 is firing on all cylinders, it shows flashes of the focused, nimble brilliance of the original. But those moments aren't the norm. More often, Hotline Miami 2 feels bogged down by its aspirations, caught between the rock and hard place of both trying to expand upon the original game's concept, and recapture the same magic that made Hotline Miami such a surprise hit. Where Hotline Miami felt lithe and creative, Hotline Miami 2 often feels sluggish and inflexible. There's fun to be had with this sequel, but it's the kind that only the original game's most ardent and obsessive fans will find in great supply.

Alex Navarro on Google+

145 Comments

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Indiana_Jenkins

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Edited By Indiana_Jenkins • 

I felt the same way for the first few levels, but then everything clicked into place. The game is really good. Right after finishing the last level I went back and played those opening levels that were once a chore. I beat two of them without dying and got some S ranks. If you can crack the code, this game is incredible. I will agree that the first game was better overall, but this game is going for something different.

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SkullPanda1

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I'm enjoying the game. I do wish the levels were a bit more focused and allowed for a bit more mayhem.

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Demoskinos

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Demoskinos • 

Love ya @alex but man could not disagree more on this one. Honestly I think this is one of the best games released this year so far and yes obviously its pretty damn early in the year but still its damn good and I expect this will end up someplace on my top 10 at the end of the year. It blows the original out of the water. I started playing on Hard Mode and boy is that rough but thats possibly where this all differs for me. Dying repeatedly, having to slowly piece together how my run is going to work that is exactly what I love about Hotline Miami. I can 100% say that I never once got angry or frustrated at the game its so zen like for me even the hardest levels keep motivating me to keep playing them instead of getting me frustrated and wanting to quit.

Not sure I'll finish Hard mode because now the games are starting to pile up but boy is this game fun. I think though at least we can all agree that the soundtrack is insanely fucking dope right?

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Abendlaender

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Yeah, I agree. Some levels are just too large to fit the "kill-die-try again" philosophy of the first one and there are way too many windows and enemies with guns so you really need to take your time, which is not what I wanted out of a Hotline Miami sequel. And some levels just have a really bad level design. Great review.

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TheHT

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TheHT • 

I absolutely adore this game. I was skeptical when they announced a sequel that it could be anywhere near as memorable as the first game, but they fucking nailed it. Feels like the perfect continuation of Hotline Miami, rather than just a cheap rehash.

The action is practically spot-on with the first game. The only discernable difference to me was that the movement in first game seemed very slightly faster than in this one. I'm not sure how this would fare as your first Hotline Miami experience though. The first game definitely eased you in with smaller, more melee-focused levels early on.

HM2 seems to immediately expect you to have played through its predecessor and come out ready for bigger, more dangerous scenarios. I don't recall the last time I played a modern sequel that right off the bat felt like a continuation of the first in every way, including difficulty. It's definitely not Super Mario Bros: Lost Levels mean, but I remember making the comparison once or twice.

Story-wise, it elevates the events of the first game to being a part of a much more interesting world. By adding that greater context however, it loses the hazy allure of the first, even if the disoriented presentation and occasionally unsettling sequence capture some of that "charm". But it all comes together to be much more intriguing and thought-provoking experience than the first, even considering that exposition dump in HM1's alternate ending.

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Sajorij

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Sajorij • 

Completely agree. It's a total mess of a sequel.

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antipothis

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Edited By antipothis • 

Yeah, gonna have to say, disagree completely. I felt exactly the same way 3 missions in, but once you get better at the game (the news reporter basically taught me how to not use guns), all of these issues fade away like bad nightmares. I can easily melee only missions again, like Miami 1, and have just been supremely impressed by the game. The music is a level of magnitude better, and the controls are actually a little more easy to use (I went back to play HM1, and it's melee is more stringent on timing. Beat it in one sitting though. Way easier now that I'm used to HM2.).

5/5

tldr: Get better, scrub.

(Okay, that last one felt a little mean.)

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kennybaese

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kennybaese • 

I'm a little over halfway through the game, and I definitely have to agree on some of the levels I've hit so far. A couple really screw you over with their size causing massive blind spots. I still like it quite a bit, but it's not quite as lean and mean as the original for sure.

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The_Craze

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The_Craze • 

I can appreciate your reasons for not liking it as much Alex, I enjoyed the hell out of it though and think the way it expanded on the story, soundtrack, and variety of gameplay with the different characters cements it as the superior game. Being shot from offscreen was annoying though.

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Brackstone

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Brackstone • 

I'd say this review is pretty spot on. For the plot, explaining mysteries is always a tricky thing, and sometimes it's better to just leave them be. The backstory they added to explain stuff from the first game was ok, but I still found the story more interesting when it was about the Fans, the Son and Manny. Those plots added new things and felt like the natural continuation of the story. I just wish those sections had been developed more, cause I really don't think several of the other playable characters really added much.

I guess I just like weird mysterious things to remain weird and mysterious, trying to explain things that don't need explaining cheapens the experience, especially considering the message the first game seemed to try to communicate.

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csl316

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csl316 • 

I would've agreed with this for the first two hours or so. But once it clicked and I learned to be a bit more deliberate, the game clicked and I loved it. It's a bigger game with some tweaked gameplay, and my enjoyment really started once I stopped comparing everything to HM1.

Early on during 2, I played a level of the first game to see the difference. And there really is a difference to the design and that was the moment I felt like stopping.

But I gave it another shot on the perfect level. There was story stuff for 30 seconds, I got off an elevator, and Roller Mobster kicked into full gear the second I started shooting. It was a god damn thrill, one of my favorite moments of the year, and the turning point for me. I stopped complaining, used the button to zoom forward, and it felt great for the remaining few hours. Except when the game crashed a half dozen times on PS4, but I digress.

And going into the forums for story discussion and seeing how everything ties together is a lot of fun. They put a ton of effort into this game and I might like the complete package even more than the first. But if I want to knife fools in smaller levels, I have several versions of the original game that I can boot up at any time.

Kudos to the developers for making a similar sequel that's simultaneously completely different. It's obviously polarizing, but I'm glad they went this direction.

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BladedEdge

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Edited By BladedEdge • 

I have slowly been playing through the opening levels of the game in a manner I find quite enjoyable, though is the D+ ranking (i.e. no guns, peekaboo, slow and stealthy). For my time though its been quite rewarding.

Example, there is a level in the 2nd/third chapter in which the first weapon your able to aqquire is a skateboard. I spent a good hour playing that as 'skateboard only'. Which was fantastic fun when I finally succeed.

And then I got to the jungle level and my first taste of "Melee? Screw you". guys. Which is a shame as I suspect I will be seeing many more of these, which is likely to punish me for playing in a manner I enjoy.

Over all I treat the games story as completely self-contained, I don't expect it to go anywhere. If there is some connection between all the various characters, I expect it will be uninspired/stupid. In that sense its worth even less the the first game which at least had a basic narrative one could follow.

The game-play is buggy and the masks I've got access to so far all suck. I'd much rather just have a 'no abilities' mask then the dodge-roll that triggers when I mean to kill some, or the melee only 'but we made this room where you can't proceed without guns' or the 'two of us! But eh, buggy so meh".

Over all though? My time with it has been worth the money I paid. I find 1 level at a time progression to be satisfying. Though given a single mission is multiple screens, it would be nice to be able to pick up somewhere besides the first screen if I have to put the game down.

The tl;dr then. Not a great game, but fun for what it is. Musics excellent.

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sir_tonk

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sir_tonk • 

Man, this one is ridiculously fun and the music is somehow even better, but yeah the level size is intensely frustrating.

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crcruz3

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crcruz3 • 

I loved the first game and I really like this one, but damn, what a great review.

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T_wester • 

I really liked the first game, but the sequel feels like an very unnecessary addition, like others have had i problems with the larger levels, more guns and the restrictive instead of free-flowing gameplay. The only thing about the sequel I like more than the first is the soundtrack .

So instead of playing it, decided I to go back to the original and play with the new soundtrack, that was a far better experience.

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AV_Gamer

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AV_Gamer • 

Great review, Alex. You hit the nail on the head with this one. The great stealth elements of the first game are mostly gone in favor of baiting bad guys around the corner and watching out for off-screen deaths. The lock-on feature is a good improvement, but the cheapness of the AI can get frustrating at times. The soundtrack is epic and is really what's keeping me playing the game right now.

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DonutFever

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DonutFever • 

I've seen a lot of reviews criticize the ability to skip that part in the opening. I'm not sure if we should be discouraging developers from including trigger warnings/abilities to skip. If you feel that the scene is unnecessary, that's really all that needs to be said.

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seannao

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seannao • 

This game was just way too cool to get its nihilistic, anti-violent message across effectively.

This review's spot on, and I've somehow managed to dump 20 hours into the game anyway.
The fake-rape scene, I've heard it said, is the microcosm of the core message Dennaton's trying to impart, that worship of the extreme, of violence, is bad, and that's the only way to go if a director wants to continue topping their last production to get a rise out of de-sensitized audiences... But it's up to everyone's point of view tbh.
Their decision to remove it *seemed* to be in line with everything else in the game. It *felt* like they were just giving fans what they wanted.
Story from Hotline 1 too convoluted fans thought? Well here's a story that more or less spells out the history and origins of Hotline and even retconned a portion of 1 (the Jacket v Biker fight) to clear the air on that, too! It was bogged down with side-stories and side-characters that didn't matter.. but were interesting while they lasted I suppose.

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DieHappyGames

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Great review, Alex - glad to see someone calling it out. I didn't have super high expectations going in, but felt like the more I played, the less I wanted and the more I felt like even the areas of improvement fell flat. All in all, it felt like a shotgun blast of two-dimensional obscurities, and not in a good way - made the first one seem more like a fluke, in that the creators didn't full understand what made their first game so great. Oh well, like I said: wasn't expecting a sequel to recapture the same magic that can only truly be experienced for that first time. Glad it's off my "to play" list and I can now forget it.

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Guthrie • 

I may think this particular review comes down harshly on a few points, ultimately I think its true it has a lot of trouble living up to the original. I'd say its worth its initial price of $15 though, for anyone who's curious enough..... But yeah both the dogs in dark rooms and guys just off-screen problems are things that ended up killing me waaay too often than I'd like.

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The_Nubster

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What I'm seeing here is a dislike of a game that isn't enough like its predecessor. Just because HM1 was weird and surreal and largely empty of plot, why should its sequel be?

It's fine to dislike this game. There are plenty of parts I hate. But for it to strike out so wildly for the original while still maintaining that impeccable sense of feel and style is respectable. Besides, I went back and played HM1 all the way through again after beating HM2, and you get shot offscreen all the fucking time. The guns are just as frustrating as they are in HM2.

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TreeTrunk

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TreeTrunk • 

Yea after playing quite a bit, I think I had a better time with the first game. It's still fun but what's keeping me going are the story bits and cut scenes.

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Edited By sloppydisk • 

What Alex describes reflects my own playthrough of the game. It captures some basic essence of the original but the new gameplay ruins the magic felt in the first game. Jumbled story line and levels too large for a fair chance against AI with ranged weapons is very frustrating at times. So much so that "fuck it", escape, quit is a large part of my playthrough.

Still I hope once I finish it it might be worth the trouble I went through to get to the end.

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Brainling • 

Agree with Alex. This did exactly what I DIDN'T want them to do with HLM, which was just go "bigger, bigger, BIGGER!". Bigger is exactly what HLM didn't need. They Michael Bay'ed the sequel out, and I think it took away from what really made HLM great.

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Heycalvero

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Heycalvero • 

@redbullet685: I feel like we've been hearing about a lot of cool games in the podcast, they just aren't getting reviews here. Ori, Cities: Skylines, Puyo Puyo: Tetris are some that come to mind that are well liked among the staff.

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dudestreet

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dudestreet • 

Great review, Alex! The compare / contrast structure of the writing makes perfect sense for this game, which on the surface seems like more of the first. I think that the original was such a tight package, and to try to enhance the experience with a sequel would have been a tall order. I honestly didn't give a shit about the story of the original, though the attempted mind-fuck ending was amusing.

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Brainling

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Brainling • 

What I'm seeing here is a dislike of a game that isn't enough like its predecessor. Just because HM1 was weird and surreal and largely empty of plot, why should its sequel be?

It's fine to dislike this game. There are plenty of parts I hate. But for it to strike out so wildly for the original while still maintaining that impeccable sense of feel and style is respectable. Besides, I went back and played HM1 all the way through again after beating HM2, and you get shot offscreen all the fucking time. The guns are just as frustrating as they are in HM2.

That's not really what we're saying, or what Alex said. We're saying that it felt to us that it diverged from the formula in the wrong places. Rather than doing anything with the core game play loop, they just made everything...big. But that claustrophobic, tight spaced style, was what made HLM what it was. I'm not disappointed it's not enough like HLM, I'm disappointed the parts they changed aren't what I wanted them to change in HLM. The core gameplay loop itself has so much room for expansion, and just making everything bigger directly took away some of the fun I had with the first one.

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Edited By Luck702 • 

Jeez, I'm torn on this game. Half of me wants to love it while the other half agrees with nearly every word of this review. It is, in fact, too god damned long. I was able to finish HM1 in a few hours the day before HM2 dropped. It's a perfect length for an afternoon and it always left you wanting more. I've put 14 hours into HM2 according to Steam and have yet to finish it. I have no desire to finish it which is shocking considering how excited I was for this game.

Right now, I just look forward to the level creator. That will completely fix the level design and play style problems assuming the tools are robust enough.

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ShadowSwordmaster

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paulmako

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paulmako • 

This is a great review and picks up on all of the problems with this game.

That said! I absolutely love it. Played it through to completion using a controller and had a blast. I liked the first one a lot, and if you enjoyed the first I wouldn't feel bad recommending this.

It is harder, but I found it no less gripping. Steam says it took me nine hours to finish it and I was kind of hoping there were one or two more levels left.

I played the original again a month or so ago so maybe I was better prepared for the difficulty this game starts at.

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agentgray

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agentgray • 

*69 this review because somebody called and got the wrong number.

I think that's too bad. I'll wait for the PS+ drop.

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Goldanas

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Goldanas • 

I agree and feel the same about my time with the game, though I did manage to give melee weapons a try at one point and found them to be effective in certain areas once I hugged the hell out of corners, though it didn't feel as rewarding as the original. Also:

a brief sequence of sexual assault that immediately flips into a reveal of movie set fakery. The scene was a point of controversy leading up to the game's release, and it comes with a menu prompt asking if you want to disable viewing it entirely. That this prompt exists is less an indictment of any outrage directed at the game, and more of the scene's necessity in the first place

Nah, the ability to turn it off is entirely because of the controversy, and it's easy to say something is unnecessary if you don't want to acknowledge it yourself, or if it makes you uncomfortable. To be honest, I think the quick bait and switch to the movie sequence is sort of their way of commenting on the ridiculousness of the outrage.

The impact of that scene is immediately lessened, or made to feel superfluous, the moment it's revealed that it was faked as part of a piece of media, but the game itself is a form of media, so the actual event itself is no less fake than it was to begin with. I think it works very well as a piece of criticism against games journalism and art censorship.

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bluefish

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bluefish • 

Although I am enjoying it so far (around halfway) I've been feeling all the issues Alex brings up. The number of surprise deaths from offscreen foes is too many to count. I now move into every new area pushing the screen's view ahead of me just to make sure there isn't a man with an Uzi who sees me before I see him.

The story is trying to be too clever and (so far) only serves to muddle things and basically make me not care about what the PLOT is. I didn't care in the first game either but I also wasn't supposed to know and THAT was interesting.

I dunno. It's a bit of a bummer. I still like it so far though. Helldivers is considerably better though :D

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Aldrenar47

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Aldrenar47 • 

I'm glad I bought this game, it's really great. The level design issues aren't really as bad as some people say. They are almost completely avoided with some changes in strategy. There are so many other things that are improved from the first game that overall I think the second is actually better. There is a lot more variety in character/mask playstyles, as well as visuals and missions. The soundtrack is bangin'. No joke, it's better than the first game. Overall I would say 4/5 stars, close to being a 5/5 if it weren't for a few minorly frustrating issues. I really hope they make another one.

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alex

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alex  Staff • 

@goldanas: I recognize that they made the choice to put that option in there because of the controversy. What I'm saying is that by turning the scene off, the game is in no way impacted whatsoever. The scene and the whole movie storyline is pointless. The scene didn't make me feel uncomfortable at all, but it did come off as empty shock value, not an especially useful critique of what you're describing.

Also, that scene was always built with the movie scene fakeout (I saw it at E3 a year or two ago, and they showed it exactly as it appears in the game), so I don't think it's a commentary on the outrage against the sequence. Unless you're talking about outrage against Hotline Miami/media violence in general?

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Korolev

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Korolev • 

The story elements didn't come together for me (and a fair few characters and plot points felt completely superfluous), and I REALLY didn't like the way it ended. I agree with this Review.

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Nadril

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Nadril • 

I thought it was pretty good, but didn't capture what the original had. I definitely agree levels felt like they drug on just a bit too long, some of the massive levels were a bit much.

Still unsure of how I feel about the story. I thought it was interesting, but I really need time to think about it.

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jackburtonme

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You nailed it, Alex. Especially concerning the story.

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Capshot

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Edited By Capshot • 

After I finished the game I had no idea what I thought about this. It was more frustrating than the first and the story rubbed me the wrong way yet for some reason I knew I didn't completely dislike the game. When I went back to it to try to increase my scores, something just clicked and now I really love it.

I played the first game like a lot of other people, I would be brash and careless but would somehow scrape by and, for that first game, that was good enough. That sort of approach doesn't work as well in this game so I had to change my tactics and, in doing so, I found it much more satisfying to figure out how to string together combos and plan out my routes through the levels. Pulling off a level in a single combo-streak is a great feeling.

I had mixed feelings about the story initially, especially the ending, but, in hindsight, I think I really like what they did with it. I never thought I'd care about the story in a sequel to Hotline Miami yet here we are.

I'm not going to sit here and deny your points but I felt I'd post my opinion of the game considering I really love the game because it tried to be "something other than 'more Hotline Miami'" even though I can just as easily see why some might dislike it for the exact same reason. Hopefully we can at least all agree that the game has some really great styyyyyyyyyyle.

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Crysack

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Crysack • 

@alex said:

@goldanas: I recognize that they made the choice to put that option in there because of the controversy. What I'm saying is that by turning the scene off, the game is in no way impacted whatsoever. The scene and the whole movie storyline is pointless. The scene didn't make me feel uncomfortable at all, but it did come off as empty shock value, not an especially useful critique of what you're describing.

Also, that scene was always built with the movie scene fakeout (I saw it at E3 a year or two ago, and they showed it exactly as it appears in the game), so I don't think it's a commentary on the outrage against the sequence. Unless you're talking about outrage against Hotline Miami/media violence in general?

I don't really think the implication of the scene (and the rest of the movie plot) was particularly subtle. From the point of view of an in-universe interpretation, the movie appears to be intended to demonstrate the public's perception of Jacket - i.e. that of an irredeemable psychopath whose personality begins and ends at violence. The scene itself sees the Jacket analogue saving the girl for no other reason than sexual gratification, which is actually completely antithetical to his behaviour in the first game. The movie is supposed to contrast the 'fans' perception with that of the public - one sees him as pure evil while the other sees him as a valiant crusader against the scum of Miami.

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regularassmilk

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Great review! Surprisingly divisive game, but I understand why. Hotline Miami ended up being one of my favorite games...ever. So I suppose on one hand I'm programmed to like Hotline Miami 2, and at the same time, maybe fine-tuned to bitch about it?

I did run into people/dogs getting caught and freaking out in doorways all the time, but Hotline Miami 2, to me, was way more than just a sequel. It's like the dream of the original game fully realized.

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orborborb

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Edited By orborborb • 

I thought the gameplay was smarter and more interesting in Hotline Miami 2, though I ran into bugs slightly more often as well. The plot is definitely much weaker, and the music doesn't fit the action quite as well in general (though the best tracks are just as good if not better than anything in the first).

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CanadianMath

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Sounds like you didn't like the game because it was too hard, which to me is so subjective. I found it challenging, but not unfair. Game is fun, albeit not an instant classic like the original. 4/5

There is no such thing as an objective review of a piece of art. Subjectivity is the entire point of said reviews.

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WrathOfGod

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WrathOfGod • 

I've never seen such a split comments section.

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deactivated-590b7522e5236

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Edited By deactivated-590b7522e5236 • 

This is probably the kind of game that requires a second playthrough to truly enjoy, the better you get the more it flows, the more badass you feel. I respect what the game is trying to do, it rewards mastery. I just cant take the HM atmosphere for that long, its not a game i wanna live in for more than the initial playthrough.

Also the sountrack is good as a collection of cool music but its not as cohesive or memorable as the first.

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megalowho

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Edited By megalowho • 

@the_nubster said:

What I'm seeing here is a dislike of a game that isn't enough like its predecessor. Just because HM1 was weird and surreal and largely empty of plot, why should its sequel be?

I don't think a HM2 with a similar approach to story and gameplay would have been a wholly successful sequel for different reasons. For me, I just question if a game like Hotline Miami that was so singular in focus and execution really needed a sequel to begin with. No shame with being one and done, especially if you nail what you're trying to do out of the gate.

Kind of besides the point now, Dennaton made a sequel and changing things up is admirable. Interesting to read the varied reactions, would love to see a postmortem from the devs somewhere down the line.

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DrSbaitso

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Edited By DrSbaitso • 

Wholeheartedly disagree with this review

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Cirdain

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Cirdain • 

@redbullet685: I feel like we've been hearing about a lot of cool games in the podcast, they just aren't getting reviews here. Ori, Cities: Skylines, Puyo Puyo: Tetris are some that come to mind that are well liked among the staff.

Yeah I thought that someone would review Ori at least.

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SpideyOck

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SpideyOck • 

couldn't disagree more. One of the best games of the year. I loved trying to parse my way through the levels, story, and aura of the game. So fucking rad. Made me enjoy the story of the first game more too, as certain details became clearer, and Jacket's motivations were sort of laid bare.

5/5 for me :)