I don’t know what’s real. Oh, look! A guy I can murder.
Hotline Miami was a game I remember for three things: the amazing soundtrack, the punishing, yet addicting game play, and how insane and confusing the story was. There are three things I will remember about playing Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number: the amazing soundtrack, how insane and confusing the story was, and the punishing game play. Did you notice the difference? While I didn’t dislike Wrong Number, it sure did a good job of trying to convince me that I did.
Unlike the first game, players take control of multiple characters throughout the game. Some happen during the same time, some are in the past, some I don’t even know if they are real. It is still a very mysterious and confusing story that I was never able to fully grasp. I’m playing as an actor and he’s filming a movie, then I’m a thug that does joy killings with a gang, next thing I know I’m in the Hawaiian jungle in a different time period and I’m a mercenary or military guy. It was hard to follow to say the least.
Platforms: PS4, PS3, PC, Vita
Price I’d pay: $10
Multiplayer: Online leaderboards
Of course, the more prevalent thing players will encounter is the game play. For the most part, Wrong Number is more of the same when it comes to brutal murder with some small changes thrown in here and there. Obviously, there are some new weapons to try out, and while I never used the lock-on in the first game, I used it a good amount here. One of the reasons for this was due to how much larger the areas are in Wrong Number. This leads to some rather cheap deaths because I can’t see my enemies yet they can see me and have some rather deadly accuracy, and since I could only take maybe (and that’s a big maybe) one shot before dying, it wasn’t optimal. Granted, I could always look farther with a button, but it’s limited, and when snapping back to my character, I would lose sight of where my enemies were.
I never saw it coming. Literally.
There’s that fine line with trial and error games that is in between addictive challenge and frustrating chore. Wrong Number crosses that line on both sides multiple times throughout. Mechanics like the military guy’s missions forcing me to find ammo crates when my gun runs out bullets make it a challenge that leans too far in the frustrating territory, while new masks like the one that allows me to have two killers, one with a gun and one with a chainsaw to dispose of Russian mafia thugs simultaneously makes it fun and exciting. Towards the halfway point of the game, I would spend upwards to 30 minutes on a single level trying to make my way from floor to floor. Sometimes it was a rewarding feeling; sometimes it was a rage quit-inducing grind. There never really was a good balance some levels were just not good.
Due to the off screen enemies being so deadly, it ruins the “run and gun” feel of the first game while trying to get a high score because I would rather slowly take my time finding enemy patterns and not dying then try to run full force into a room. It drags the game play down to a crawl sometimes.
A soundtrack to kill for.
Once again, the soundtrack is full of both techno and somewhat chiptune sounding tracks that still highlight the entire experience. Hotline Miami boasts some of the best music I’ve heard in games in recent years.
The old school top down visual style is still there and for an 8-bit/16-bit look, the kill animations and gore displayed is as gruesome as a fully rendered 3D game. It fits with the rather colorful look of the game and contrasts very well. Of course, having to leave the building after the mission and seeing the carnage I left was always pretty satisfying.
For the most part, Wrong Number is more of the same. This is not going to get people that didn’t like the first game on board with the second one. With an emphasis focused more on story it changes up how the game is played a bit, but not by much. Even then, I find that move confusing since the story was always one of the weaker aspects. The combat is still brutal both in difficulty and visual look and while it was never enough to make me want to quit the game altogether, there were definitely some parts that frustrated me. For fans of the series, there’s a lot more Hotline Miami to play here and it still has its moments. For newcomers or people that didn’t get into the first game, it may be a difficult one to get on board with.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.