Hotline Miami (PlayStation 3) Review

By Az Elias 11.07.2013

Review for Hotline Miami on PlayStation 3

With the rise and heavy focus of indie developers over the course of the past console generation, the games created by these small groups gain a certain spotlight that separates them from those made by the big hitters that attempt to create what are today coined as "Triple A" games. Each year, an indie title comes along that takes everybody by surprise. In 2012, that title was Hotline Miami, from the two-man team that made up Dennaton Games. Having already graced PC, OS X and Linux platforms, it is now available as a cross-buy title on the PlayStation Network for PlayStation 3 and PS Vita.

The goal is simple: murder everyone. Achieving it is something else entirely. In the top-down retro world of Hotline Miami nothing is explained. Listen to the message left on the answer machine, follow the address and then clean it out. It's mindless, it's sick, but damn, it's fun.

Set under the neon lights of the 1980s, the nameless and silent main character is given his tasks, always follows them, and never questions them. Every mission is broken up by slight story advancements, either at a bar, a video store, a pizzeria, or sometimes an unknown location with three mysterious figures wearing animal masks that let on very little, yet seem to know an awful lot. While the plot itself (which is heavily inspired by 2011 movie Drive) is already engagingly puzzling to the point that it itself is enough to want to keep playing and unravel just what the heck is going on, it's the gameplay of Hotline Miami that will have players hitting X to restart over and over.

Screenshot for Hotline Miami on PlayStation 3

Prior to every mission, a mask must be selected to wear, which each offers a special ability, such as causing more guns to spawn or having deadly punch attacks. Within seconds of busting through the first door, death is guaranteed, and immediately, it's clear that this is going to be brutal; brutal in difficulty and brutal in the sheer goriness of it all.

There are essentially two ways to approach each stage: stealth and all guns blazing. The 2D bird's eye view sort of gives off a Metal Gear essence, as it's crucial to study the AI and then make the right move. Whatever the case, both stealth and assault must be used to win. The enemy characters can be punched and killed with whatever is lying around. All manner of blunt and sharp objects can be found and unlocked; including crowbars, hammers, axes and scissors, and these can all be used to inflict a gruesome death. Guns are the most popular weapons, and most AIs carry these themselves.

Essentially, it's one hit and they are dead; and the same applies for the main character. Pretty much any weapon can do them in instantly, but punches can be thrown to knock enemies down and stun them. Swinging open doors can also knock them over, and this is the chance to get rid of them with devastating finishing moves. Whatever melee weapon is in hand at the time will usually produce a different gory finisher, of which there are many to be seen.

Screenshot for Hotline Miami on PlayStation 3

Each stage is short, but is designed in such a way that it will take many, many attempts to finally complete them. Hotline Miami is tough as hell, but it never has a feeling of impossibility. It's the sort of game that puts many different skills to the test - namely reflex speed - and while the control set up on the PS3 may not quite match the keyboard and mouse method, it's extremely tight. There is a learning curve, and there can be trouble in trying to use the L1 and L2 buttons together at the same time (which could have been solved with customisable controls), but the twin stick format works soundly.

With every kill made, there is the opportunity to increase the points score by quickly killing another. Through continuous quick kills to keep the combo alive and a whole plethora of other ways to add bonus points, such as using doors to hit enemies and finishing stages quickly, the final score gives a grade, with A+ being the highest. This is a very difficult ranking to achieve for every level, but the satisfactory feeling at being able to blitz through a level and take out every single enemy in swift moves is even more pleasing when the results screen rewards that A+.

Screenshot for Hotline Miami on PlayStation 3

Attempting to top the leader boards won't really become a priority until all of the masks and weapons have been unlocked, though. There are a lot to find and achieve, with the Raging Bull mask being exclusive to the PlayStation edition; it covers the game in an attractively gritty black and white film, where only blood and neon texts are left coloured. Some hard searching is also needed to uncover the full story, so while there are many factors that add replay value, such is the archaic fun of Hotline Miami, that it would have been completely adequate without any of it. If there are negatives to point out, it's that the initial release on PlayStation had some bugs, but the developer issued a patch that addressed them soon enough.

Accompanying the incredible addictiveness of the game is the undeniably superb soundtrack. Capturing that 80s essence to a tee, it is no understatement that the score of Hotline Miami is one of the best there is, compiled from a variety of artists. It's quite amazing how much more immersive the game becomes as the high tempo and thumping beats seem to go hand-in-hand with the continuous deaths and restarts that persist.

Screenshot for Hotline Miami on PlayStation 3

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

One of the games of 2012, and now one of the games of 2013 on the PlayStation 3, and certainly on PS Vita, Hotline Miami has to be played by all. The biggest disappointment that can be said is that it had to come to an end; despite being a decent enough length with many levels, it begged for more. Thankfully, it's so addictive that that doesn't really become a problem, but there's no denying that the want for Hotline Miami 2 becomes massive once this one is finished. While the PC version may be ideal for most, PlayStation players will have very little to complain about if that is the preferred platform of choice. Whichever it is, buy Hotline Miami.

Developer

Abstraction

Publisher

Devolver Digital

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (2 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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