Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number (PlayStation 4) Review

By Az Elias 11.04.2015

Review for Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number on PlayStation 4

Dennaton Games' Hotline Miami fired through the indie scene out of nowhere. It was fast, it was brutal, it was psychotic, and it was the very definition of addictive. Its quick-burst, neon light-drenched levels and sublime electro soundtrack worked in cohesion to produce a retro game like no other - like it was pulled right out of the 80s. The sequel, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, has been hotly anticipated ever since the original's release, but does it live up to the hype?

In all honesty, this is a huge let-down. Just about everything that made Hotline Miami so good has been scrapped or messed around with inappropriately to leave a highly frustrating experience that drags on too long thanks to the poor decisions made.

In the original game, levels were compact with small rooms, allowing a course of action to be plotted out and executed at high speed. In Hotline Miami 2, stages have been made far more expansive, leaving relatively few places to hide. Many enemies cannot be seen from a distance, but it's perfectly normal for them to spot the controlled character from a mile away, picking away with cheap shots. There are glass windows just about everywhere, meaning the character is in full view on so many occasions. There is an overabundance of beefy guys planted throughout levels, making it harder to take enemies out when they take multiple shots to go down.

The core tactical mechanic at the centre of the prequel was the option to choose which mask to wear at the beginning of each level, where special abilities were granted when one was in use. This time around, choice has become limited. Different characters are playable throughout the story, and there are only a few occasions where certain ones can be picked, which have their own unique strengths. For other particular characters, a choice of weapons is presented. All of this contributes to making stages only approachable in a smaller number of ways. This could be looked at as the developers stopping the same mask being chosen over and over, and levels being blitzed with silent gun shots or powerful punches. With bad level designs like what is presented in Hotline Miami 2, though, the limited ways to take levels on only become all the more frustrating when the choice of mask is taken away.

Screenshot for Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number on PlayStation 4

Due to the nature of overly large open areas, glass windows on nearly every wall, and enemies that can see from afar, the gameplay becomes the total opposite of what Hotline Miami was all about. Instead of a game reliant on quick reflexes and thinking fast, this turns into a game of bait. It doesn't take long at all to realise that the best way to beat each level is to simply wait around one corner and goad enemies to come close. Jump out, kill one, and jump back. Jump out, make a noise, and jump back.

It doesn't help in the slightest that one character must find ammo stations to reload his bullets, leaving him helpless in the midst of enemies that cannot even be seen because they are hidden below top-layered graphics, or actually walk around off the screen itself. Other problems persist with special abilities like rolling being tied to the same button as the finishing move, causing rolls to happen when not intended, and vice versa. The odd glitch rears its head at times, too; the most noticeable is dogs spinning around on the spot as if they're chasing they're own tail when their programmed path takes them near an opened door. Such issues can be patched out, but it's hard to see how this one was overlooked given how frequently it occurs.

This isn't to say Hotline Miami 2 doesn't still retain the essence of Hotline Miami and the ingredients that made that game so stupendously intoxicating. Not every single level or section forces this "bait and wait" tactic into play, and the story comes together appropriately enough to put the original game's reasons for the murder sprees into perspective. There are still flashes of brilliance. Ultimately, though, Hotline Miami 2 is not the game it should have been, but that speaks volumes for what Hotline Miami accomplished first time around.

Screenshot for Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

In trying to go bigger and better with Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, the majority of what made the original so good has been lost. Levels are far too large, many enemies cannot be seen, and the mask system is effectively done away with for a poor substitute. This is still Hotline Miami; it's just not as exhilarating. Ironically, the planned level editor may be what saves it, where fans can potentially create surpassing stages akin to those found in the first game. For now, though, if yet to taste either title in the series, definitely make sure to buy the prequel over this for the ultimate and most thrilling experience.

Developer

Dennaton

Publisher

Devolver Digital

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10 (1 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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