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Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number

" Y O U   R E A L L Y   E N J O Y   H U R T I N G   O T H E R   P E O P L E ,   D O N ' T   Y O U ? "

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The sequel to Devolver Digital and Dennaton Game's breakout hit is here: Hotline Miami 2. Throwing you back into the guttural city of Miami in the year 1991, two years after the first game's events transpired. Miami has been shaken by the killing sprees of the Hotline murderer, leading multiple psychopaths down their own dark paths. Answers are provided that fill the plot holes in the first game, but they only lead to even more questions. In this world of crazed vigilantes, and ruthless mobsters, get ready to pick up your guns and blades, and turn this twisted world of pixels into a world of hurt.

 

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Hotline Miami 2 takes a radically different step than the first one. Where before, you were limited to a single silent character, with a choice of differently named masks, this time, you play through the levels as entirely different people, in favor of a more complex and branching storyline and character development. All of them have some form of dialogue in the cutscenes, and based on the way they talk, a sense of what their mental state and ethical alignment may be gleaned... some even forgo wearing the masks, as their identity doesn't need to be concealed.

 

Curiously enough, the character of the first game, Jacket, is absent for the majority of the game, and in the places he does appear, he is unrecognizable without his regular attire. However, as the game progresses, it becomes clear that the actions he- the actions that YOU committed in 1989 have influenced many of these psychopathic criminals very greatly. But not all of them...

 

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Some of the characters' stories take place before the first Hotline game, and you get no warning as to when the game will jump back and forth with a VHS-styled rewind or fast-forward. This only adds an extra level of confusion, but also a bit more clarity, as it provides a buildup to major events in both the first game, and the events that take place after. Though not initially revealed at the beginning of the game, in these scenes you play as:

 

Beard/Soldier - A special ops commando battling Russians in 1985 Honolulu, Hawaii. He bears a striking similarity to the friendly cashier in the first game... Playing as him, you get a choice of five different guns, with a knife that can always be pulled out for a silent, stealthy kill.

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Richter - An unemployed young man who just wants to help his sick mother, and is coerced into killing for the mysterious organization behind the phone calls. He wears a rat mask, and plays exactly like Jacket.

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Jake - A fat, nationalist loser with a strong sense of Southern pride. He kills Russians for the hell of it. He has a choice between three different snake masks that give him different abilities, each unlocked based on level progression.

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After the killings in 1989, Jacket is locked away for the hundreds of murders he committed, and is possibly the most famous Floridian at the time of Hotline Miami 2. Some characters follow him, and the mystery surrounding him, but others try to emulate him, indiscriminately slaying criminals in his footsteps:

 

The Fans - Alex & Ash, Tony, Mark, and Corey are the latest masked criminals, who all seem to be bored with life and wanting fifteen minutes of fame. The mysterious phone calls never seem to reach them, so they go out hunting the streets for mobsters to murder. Alex and Ash are twins with swan masks, who fight together with a gun and a chainsaw; Tony wears a tiger mask, and fights with his bare fists and is capable of killing with just a punch; Mark wields two SMGs and has the mask of a bear; Corey, the most silent, wears a zebra mask, and has an ability to roll and grant a temporary invincibility as she dodges.


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Martin Brown - An actor in a slasher film based off of Jacket's killings. He wears a pig mask and appears to be the most psychotic of the characters. He finds himself questioning if he's even in a movie anymore... or if he ever was.

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Evan Wright - A peaceful author trying to piece together the connections between all these murders for a book he's writing. He's more of a pacifist, ejecting magazines and shells from firearms if picked up, and punching out enemies instead of executing them. However, should you beat their head into a pulp, he will kill as normally as any other character, at the cost of points.

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Manny Pardo - A ruthless Miami P.D. detective (slightly based on rogue Miami cop Manuel Pardo.) He clears buildings of criminals using excessive force, before any police backup arrives, and seems to have very dark intentions...

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The Henchman - A member of the Russian Mob who just wants out. His boss gives him one last job, however... which he is obligated to finish. He starts out with a silenced pistol.

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The Son - The current leader of the Russian Mafia. Always drugged up, and willing to clear out rival gangs all by himself, the Son leads the Mob in place of his father, (who is now deceased) riding out his power trip as far as he can. He has the same abilities as the Fans, but uses cosmetic items instead of masks, such as sunglasses, brass knuckles, and a golden bracelet.

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The storylines of these characters and how they intertwine is fascinating to see in the end... but nobody gets a happy ending in this game. Carrying the same trope from the first, Hotline Miami 2 shows that bad things will happen to bad people, and even to good people who do bad things. The glorification of violence will only give that slight rush before it's over, and then the consequences have to be faced. Where the first game was based off of 80's noir and slasher films, this game delves straight into the brutal action of the early 90's, with some severe edginess added in, but still stylized in an amazing fashion. The game retains a similar level of bizarreness to the first, maintaining the same surreal atmosphere. It even takes a twist on the Cold War that I think nobody saw coming...

 

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With all of these new characters, the free form combat takes a bit of a hit, but the levels are restructured to be larger, and retains the necessity to make mental paths through the stages to acquire the most combos. It takes more of a focus on shooting than the first one did, so often times enemies can be "cheesed" by drawing them around a corner and killing them all, but it still moves with a blazing fast fluidity, where one wrong move can mean getting set back to the beginning of the level. However, by removing the mask and weapon unlocks at the end of the level, there's not much of a reward for proficiently killing everyone, other than a letter grade. Also, your play style is no longer calculated, as there isn't much of a variety available anymore.

 

Once the game is beaten, a hard mode is unlocked, adding a bit of replayability after finishing it. A bluish gray film grain covers the vibrant 80's colors in this mode, setting the mood even more to a 90's crime thriller. The stages are reversed, and the amount of enemies is doubled, resulting in a truly masochistic challenge. Also, lock on is disabled, so you'll have to make sure your aim is true.

 

The music in this game blew me away. It is possibly the greatest soundtrack I've ever heard in a game. Artists like M.O.O.N, Scattle, and Perturbator return, along with new musicians such as Magic Sword, Mitch Murder, and Carpenter Brut. Before the soundtrack was even made official, I was listening to some of these tracks even a year before the game was released. Repetition of the songs are eliminated, to provide you with the ultimate music to slay your enemies with. It's darker, faster, and louder, and possibly the best that HM2 has to offer.

 

Take a listen:

 

While departing from many of the things that made the first Hotline game stand out, Hotline Miami 2 holds it's own with awesome visuals, a complex and riveting story with memorable characters, and a soundtrack that strikes hard. While both games aren't perfect, in conjunction with each other, they make a great pair of games. This is the last entry in the series, but it provides a solid resolution to the strange and surreal story that left players hooked.

 

In summary, I give Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, a

9/10

+ Story manages to stay surreal while being more upfront

+ Adds a great cast of characters who support the story

+ Best. Soundtrack. Ever.

- Combat is less variable

- Less replayability due to fewer unlocks

- Story is still a bit confusing because of the jumps in time

 

Tucker933 likes this

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