Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number

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Giant Bomb Review

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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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InfamousBIG

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100% agree with every point made in the review. More than anything, it's an incredibly frustrating experience, and not the "good" kind of frustrating that tight, challenging games often are.

@schlorgan: Nothing has reviewed higher than a 3 so far this year and that's kind of alarming (out of 5 reviews). Maybe if Brad does a Bloodborne review then we'll most likely get a score higher than 3 stars. And I'm assuming Jeff will do a MKX review and surely that will be a good game, right?

If anyone reviews the Witcher, I have to imagine that'll go above 3 as well, based off the very little I've had a chance to play, which made a very good first impression. Plus with games like MGSV, Just Cause 3, and No Man's Sky that are very likely to get reviewed, I still feel there's a solid lineup, the year just isn't very front-loaded (hopefully Bloodborne and MKX are the exception).

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Grimdaddy

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Grimdaddy • 

Spot on review. I really did enjoy playing through this one, but it really was missing the magic that kept me striving for perfection in the first game. Getting an "A+" rating in Hotline 1 was compelling and fun, and almost reflexive. I cannot see myself doing anything of the sort with the huge and window-filled stages of the second game. The frustration overwhelmed the fun in this one, sadly.

Great review, thanks Alex.

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vivifortunia

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I'm right there with you. I preordered the special edition, and was disappointed to play such a guncentric HLM2. I like the first for having both mele and guns (or preferably a mix) be viable.

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Zevvion

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Zevvion • 

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

Something being hard is a completely valid reason to dislike it. Especially if the type of difficulty a game uses is just not fun. Hotline Miami 2 is not that hard of a game. I can name several games that I actively play that are much harder. But Hotline Miami 2 is the type of difficulty that just frustrates, where other harder games do not. Not to mention almost all of its difficulty can be diverted by just learning the maps and pretty poor AI.

I'm ready to admit I'm having fun with the game. I'm playing most of it again, but I rarely die. The AI is so easy to exploit. What's left is an okay game that's just not as good as its predecessor in nearly every way.

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slyr114

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slyr114 • 

I think this game would have been improved with some sort of map editor and workshop support. The foundation is great, as is are the visuals and soundtrack, but the levels are just not fun at all to play. The first game had fantastically designed levels for the most part but this game just frustrated the shit out of me. Really wish the levels were tighter and more fun to play.

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DeiNile

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Edited By DeiNile • 

Awesome review, good game. I guess I didn't have a problem with the core gameplay. I found the disjointed story way more off putting. It started great but the later acts don't capture that same grimy atmosphere.

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Brodehouse

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Brodehouse • 

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.

You have perfectly captured my frustrations with the change to the level layouts and the general moment-to-moment gameplay.

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emfromthesea

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I really liked Hotline Miami 2. More than the original. I suppose different people got different things out of the original game.

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jpmcosta

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jpmcosta • 

@av_gamer said:

[...] 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. [...]

That's what I thought...

I did not play HM2. However, as I was watching the footage on GameSpot's video review (which gave it a 9), I couldn't help but to notice that corner tactic being used. I was wondering if that was fun at all...

When I was a kid, I would use that same tactic on Commandos, slaughtering all hordes of soldiers, before finishing the level. But honestly, that was only because I didn't know better. :P

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The_Nubster

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@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?

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.

So they didn't make the sequel that you, the fan, wanted them to make. They have an entire arc in their game dedicated to you, then!

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nickhead

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nickhead • 

I ran through HM1 again these last few days to have a fresh comparison, and honestly, I'm beginning to wonder if everyone remembers it differently. In multiple levels, there was a decent emphasis on guns, and multiple times I did the "shoot and wait for guys to come around a corner".

I get that there was more focus to the first game, with smaller levels and more chance for variability, but for me personally, I loved HM2. I liked the changes, and again, personally, the amped up difficulty was a nice addition. I never felt many levels were unfair. The getting shot off screen sucked but it wasn't that often of an occurrence.

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Sin4profit

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Sin4profit • 

Reviews for this game are pretty interesting. I think HLM2 is far and away better than the first as i was pretty luke-warm about the first game. It seems now, everyone who really loved the first one were disappointed by the second and i'm in the reverse camp.

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Twyker

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Twyker • 

This review is really sad. HM2s social commentary is awesome.

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Dussck

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Dussck • 

Great piece Alex, I totally agree with your comments. I loved the first game, but somehow have a lot of trouble going through this one. Very much do 'the last guy shooting you offscreen', like you said.

My current playstyle in HM2 involves a lot of 'spraying bullets through the hallway hoping to hit those guys I otherwise won't see coming'.

Still want to play through the game, because I want to hear the whole soundtrack :)

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Backstabuuu

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Playing this game on PC, I didn't get a feeling of sluggishness at all; outside of the Hawaii levels that I didn't care for.

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AMyggen • 

@brainling said:

@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?

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.

So they didn't make the sequel that you, the fan, wanted them to make. They have an entire arc in their game dedicated to you, then!

No, they made a game that wasn't as enjoyable to play to me and the others who didn't like this that much.

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MalibuProfen

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Edited By MalibuProfen • 

Solid review, Alex. One that congratulates the game for its rather universal highs while encapsulating well in word form most of the gripes that surprisingly many people have had playing the game, even if I disagree on some of those points personally.

I read the term 'magic' being used quite a bit when discussing the original game to possibly convey the clean, compact and beautiful yet hallucinogenically morbid presentation and design rolled into a cohesive whole that caught mostly everyone by surprise in 2012. I actually just played through the first game in a long while this afternoon just to gain a fresh perspective on it after having completed the second one a week ago and reading upon the design "flaws"/not-likies of it from multiple points of view, and catching some story snippets that I had missed on my own playthrough.

And I've got to say that I was surprisingly left yearning for a bit more by the end of the original game for the first time, perhaps because of its shorter length and - 'lack of challenge' might not seem like the right wording but - lack of challenge. The levels were just as they were before; mostly small rooms and tight corridors with the occasional open space and window here and there. Kick in the door, wavin' the .44, and hope not to get blasted out of screen fo' sho' -state of mind. Both melee and ranged weapons felt appropriately useable in most situations though there were times when one or the other was clearly more effective or outright necessary. The game even included some, most, or even more of the lovely janky stuff that gets stamped on just the second game, such as the inconsistent AI of the dogs/henchmen, and the doors (the doors!). The great aesthetics were still there, though I noticed how few songs there actually were in the soundtrack with many of them playing twice on different levels. Meanwhile, the ambiguous story left mostly questions (to which I know the answers now, but still) or hints as to what is really going on, which I tend to enjoy.

It is not easy to bring back the exact feelings I had when originally playing and finishing the first game well over two years ago, but it wouldn't be far-fetched to say that I was enamored with it. It being my GOTY that year after all (I played the PC version of Dark Souls only last year and that would've taken the top spot had I played it when it was released). It's impossible to recapture that moment again in its entirety with the same game again. Fortunately, new and well-made pieces of interactive media gets published very often, such as Hotline Miami 2. While I'm pretty safe to say that my high after the second game was not as high as after the first one back then, I still feel that the second one is the better overall game of the two. The gameplay is mostly similar but there just seems to be more to it in the second one.

Now, I can't at this moment and time tell were the second game's questionable and frustrating or, as I deem them, great and bold design decisions simply being covered up by the grandiose presentation with its massive, and I must say somehow overall even better, soundtrack compared to the first one's; the variety of the locales and the mesmerizing graphical filters; the different characters that all felt connected to the game's story and themes each in their own way; and the curiosity-inducing but choppy storytelling that I was struggling with in piecing together in the beginning, but in the end felt as if all of this had reached a conclusion that felt as inevitable as inevitability in itself.

However, I can say that from my perspective Hotline Miami 2 is a great game. Perhaps even a better one than the first.

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Edited By chilipeppersman • 

@defcomm: yeah i have to take breaks from this game so i dont get super pissed off and break my controller, but i will beat it eventually. great review! really nailed how i feel about this.

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GregIsRad

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GregIsRad • 

From my perspective, Alex is correct in most of what he says. Larger levels and more bad guys makes for effectively less checkpoints and more frustration. Our disagreement is in terms of degree though, for I would have given this game four stars. Great review though.

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BisonHero • 

This is the exact score I would give this game, and I would have pretty much all of the same criticisms and praise that Alex pointed out. It has good moments, but the levels are just too big and entire sections of the game don't do anything interesting and are completely superfluous.

A well written review, Alex.

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BisonHero

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BisonHero • 

@brodehouse said:

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.

You have perfectly captured my frustrations with the change to the level layouts and the general moment-to-moment gameplay.

Yeah, those are absolutely the key points that make Hotline Miami 2 a worse game than the original. The level design just doesn't suit the controls and gameplay anymore.

I have less faith in Dennaton's design abilities now. It seems like maybe they just got lucky when they made the first game.

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Edited By GunsAreDrawn • 

I disagree that the story doesn't have anything to say. It has a lot of commentary about the actual fans of the game, how they have obsessed so much over the story, and how they can't appreciate the game for being a one-off. This is reflected in the final chapter with The Son on drugs, which mirrors how they want to the end the game on the second game even though people want more.

You see a lot of comments from people on any game that they thought was good, talking about how they can't wait for a sequel, it's like they can't appreciate what they just experienced and want something bigger and better than it. I think that's where this theme comes from, and there are a few scenes where its suggested that characters should spend time with things that are meaningful to them instead of a game.

The final reveal thing at the end could be that they realized it was a mistake and they actually want to do a third game, but I don't know, It's hard to tell if it was a joke or not.

On a gameplay note; I don't know why people are so bothered about the large rooms and not being able to see things. When you played the first Hotline Miami there were a lot of instances where this would happen, and the rooms weren't that big. There is a mission with assassins with SMGs, dressed as waiters and you can barely see most of the room, it takes memorization to overcome that situation, as do many scenarios in that game, but it's like you don't remember them because you have already beaten it.

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The_Pumaman

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Edited By The_Pumaman • 

Oddly enough, I found it WAY less frustrating than the first one. The first game required some pretty precise melee reflexes. Often I knew what I had to do, but because melee guys almost instantly pulped you, I'd get gibbed by them. The second game, by contrast, is more of a puzzler where you need to figure out a strategy to a level: first I go through the door, then I grab the shotgun, then I kill this guy, then fire it to lure out this other guy, etc. When you execute it correctly, you feel like a wizard.

It's amazing how good the progression in skill feels actually. When I first started the game it might take me 20+ minutes to clear a particularly hard level. Now I take about the same amount of time to combo the whole level start-to-finish, and just plain clearing it seems trivial. And I am not an amazing gamer.

I also felt that the story had a lot more substance in this entry. The first game had more trippy mysteriousness, but the second game has more solid characters, a bunch of violent mothafuckas who are eventually trumped by the ultimate violence.

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budsaq

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budsaq • 

It's shit like this that proves to me that reviews are still worth doing and keeping around. I love to read, and Alex is a good writer when it comes to this stuff. I agree with his review in spots, disagree in others. Please keep reviews coming - not for every game, I know, but the ones you all care about.

Keep writing reviews please. Love the site!

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Tru3_Blu3

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Edited By Tru3_Blu3 • 

I agree with this review 100%. There are levels in this game where, after 30 tries, I just don't want to play it anymore, but I can't because the fucking level has to restart all the way to the goddamn beginning where I have to trudge through the shit all over again. So if I don't want to slam my head in the keyboard anymore, I have to pass the level to relieve my frustration with something new.

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MalibuProfen

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Edited By MalibuProfen • 

Small update. After completing the first game yesterday I decided to run through the second game a second time with a fresh mindset and a clear comparison. That day was today. And I must say that as a game in the year 2015, Hotline Miami 2 is above the original - in my opinion, of course. Whether or not the second one has the same level of out-of-left-field impact, that the first game had in 2012, is highly doubtful, but as it stands alone as a piece of entertainment and art to be played and enjoyed irrespective of its time of release, the second game exceeds the original. Perhaps I'll verbally mull over the specifics at some other point in time when enough time has passed from the release date, but I just wanted to write down the perceptions of today.

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violet_

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violet_ • 

@brainling said:

@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?

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.

So they didn't make the sequel that you, the fan, wanted them to make. They have an entire arc in their game dedicated to you, then!

Yeah and being ha ha self aware witty social commentary doesn't make your bad sequel suddenly a good sequel thanks

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MooseheadChris

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Alex, I did not want to admit it but your review hit the nail on the head.

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Xpgamer7

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Xpgamer7 • 

Most sites gave this a really positive score, but my feelings are closer to this. I think the last game was so good, that this is still really good just by virtue of being an expansion of it. I just didn't get that wired to the tv, every moment is tense feeling that I previously did though.

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Admiral_Crunch

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I liked the music better in HM than the sequel. There are a couple of tracks in HM2 that were just plain grating (the Son of Boss dance party level comes to mind). I do feel like the gameplay is pretty much the same though, and strategies I used for the first worked in the second as well.

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Humanity

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Humanity • 

@brodehouse said:

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.

You have perfectly captured my frustrations with the change to the level layouts and the general moment-to-moment gameplay.

Yeah, those are absolutely the key points that make Hotline Miami 2 a worse game than the original. The level design just doesn't suit the controls and gameplay anymore.

I have less faith in Dennaton's design abilities now. It seems like maybe they just got lucky when they made the first game.

The second game requires more thought, skill and unfortunately a bit of luck. After going back and redoing some earlier levels trying to get A+ ranks and keeping a combo going you start to find crazy paths that you never saw before. You'll always play levels cautiously at first, but after you've run it 20 times in a row and start to know where the enemies are you can experiment more. This hasn't changed from the first game that was equally punishing to the unaware.

My biggest gripe is that there seems to be weird luck involved now. I was running the Sons first level, in the nightclub and chose his fist kill powerup effectively barring me from guns. The second part of the level is shaped like this big vertically oriented rectangle with small rooms lining the sides. When I first did this level, just like Alex wrote, I hung back and goaded enemies around corners whenever I could. Now after learning the layout and being a lot more daring I finished the entire thing in a single combo. It took maybe 40 consecutive tries and this is where my luck complain comes in. Enemy placement changes meaning sometimes the two guys in the room with the guns are at opposite corners and that run is just done for, and thats fine. What sucks is that sometimes your melee is just slower than the enemies, at random it seems. Half of my deaths were basically me getting out killed by the NPC's, or this time the dog got me for some reason - it's weird.

But when you start really aggressively attacking the levels and not being scared of the corners the game really becomes exhilarating. You just have to leave your own comfort zone of peeking around corners and just go for it. You will die a lot, but you'll also start doing insane combos along the way.

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Albrexor

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Albrexor • 

worth it for a summer sale it seems

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Fushichou187

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Seems like I enjoyed HM2 more than you did, but certainly don't begrudge you your 3; the levels being overly large was certainly frustrating as unseen enemies could frequently snipe you. I felt like the enemies FOV ought to match up with the extent of the Look ability.

I really did like the restrictions that were put on the masks though. It made for some fun challenges. Also, the Writer's ability to neuter firearms was really fucking clever and fun way to turn the gameplay on its head if you were going for the No Kill trophy.

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Luca717

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Luca717 • 

Nice review, i completely agree.

I was so excited to get the game and when i did, a few levels in i was trying to play like i did, so silent and with a knife or a club and kill everyone in the level and realized you can't, and its so heavy on using guns, which leads to everyone running at you. i can't say I'm having as much fun with it as i was expecting. The music keeps me coming back, but the levels are too large and ruin it for me. My levels have everyone dead in one spot from me reeling them in to a choke point. Not how i want to play this. Still have to finish it though..

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thatlad

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thatlad • 

3 seems harsh but a 4 is too high. Not a bad game but Alex covered the missteps. Main one for me is the dependence on guns.

Oh and fuck dogs

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BradSF

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BradSF • 

Great review Alex! I agree with you 100% that their choice to make the levels bigger was more of a hinderance than an upgrade. I played through the first 2 acts in Wrong Number and felt something was off. Then I jumped back to the original and could not stop playing it. I felt Wrong Number pretty much forced me to use guns most of the time, while the original at least would give me the choice to use guns or melee weapons. So while I'm still enjoying Wrong Number, it is slightly less fun being hamstrung to the firearms.

And while it's still early, I am not enjoying playing as the Bear with 2 machine guns. I usually just dump his clips so I can go about the level as I want instead.

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Sen0r_Awes0me

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I think Alex and I disagree about story on a lot of films and games, but his other frustrations are pretty well fleshed out in this review.

Thanks

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xtian0104

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xtian0104 • 

I saw the Quick Look, and honestly thought this game was going to get 4 stars. Either ways, I'll still buy it. I gotta see for myself.

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Tedtded • 

5 stars for me. The jittery psychosis feels so right.

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cr0pduster • 

This game got dull fast for me, and I loved the original.

Sadly I can't even picture myself putting aside the time to finish it, when I finished first game in one glorious sleep deprived, coffee fueled, sitting.

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davidh219 • 

I honestly don't get it. This was a fantastic game. Definitely as good as the original. 5/5. Yes, the first game let you be more sloppy and careless and pull off shit by the skin of your teeth, but of course it did. It was easier. Much easier. They expect you to have had all the practice of the first game going into 2 and I found that to be a far more satisfying experience. Honestly, the first game was not hard at all, so...idk. Git gud, I guess? In all seriousness though, if they hadn't made it harder, with larger levels, with more weird shit to fuck with how you play, then idk that I would have liked it nearly as much as I did, so we literally have opposite opinions on the matter. I wonder if Alex played the first game more than once like I did. I bet he didn't, and I bet that has something to do with it.

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SuperSambo • 

I honestly don't get it. This was a fantastic game. Definitely as good as the original. 5/5. Yes, the first game let you be more sloppy and careless and pull off shit by the skin of your teeth, but of course it did. It was easier. Much easier. They expect you to have had all the practice of the first game going into 2 and I found that to be a far more satisfying experience. Honestly, the first game was not hard at all, so...idk. Git gud, I guess? In all seriousness though, if they hadn't made it harder, with larger levels, with more weird shit to fuck with how you play, then idk that I would have liked it nearly as much as I did, so we literally have opposite opinions on the matter. I wonder if Alex played the first game more than once like I did. I bet he didn't, and I bet that has something to do with it.

This may be the worst thing ever written by a human being.

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abrasion

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abrasion • 

@davidh219 said:

I honestly don't get it. This was a fantastic game. Definitely as good as the original. 5/5. Yes, the first game let you be more sloppy and careless and pull off shit by the skin of your teeth, but of course it did. It was easier. Much easier. They expect you to have had all the practice of the first game going into 2 and I found that to be a far more satisfying experience. Honestly, the first game was not hard at all, so...idk. Git gud, I guess? In all seriousness though, if they hadn't made it harder, with larger levels, with more weird shit to fuck with how you play, then idk that I would have liked it nearly as much as I did, so we literally have opposite opinions on the matter. I wonder if Alex played the first game more than once like I did. I bet he didn't, and I bet that has something to do with it.

This may be the worst thing ever written by a human being.

I might be 10 months late, but you're definitely right.

I was randomly scrolling through GB reviews and I saw this at 3 Stars and had flashbacks, ugh that bad sequel.

Honestly I'm surprised it got 3 stars, it should've got 2, massive disappointment.