Publisher: Devolver Digital
Release Date: 3/10/2015
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Hotline Miami was one of my favorite games in 2013. It was violent, fast-paced, had tight controls, and rocked a retro 8-bit art style like no other game has. The music was fantastic as well, but the best part was the “just one more level” appeal. Hotline Miami 2 brings back the epic music, great art, violence, and well…some other things we didn’t really want.
Wrong Number starts out by giving us some backstory…well it tries and miserably fails at it. The story does not make one lick of sense because you are being flip-flopped between time periods and so many different characters. Each level just starts and the story is just there. There’s some dialog with no connection to the previous scene. It’s frustrating and makes you want the storyless original back. However, and it pains me to say this, but the story isn’t the worst thing in Miami 2. The game is excruciatingly difficult. Now Miami 1 was hard but satisfying so. It had great replay value because it was the perfect challenge. Miami 2 is a near frustrating mess of endless restarts and trial and error.
You could say it’s worse level design but that’s not the case, I feel it’s more like the poor enemy placement. There are so many enemies in each level and I mean tons. They all have a variety of guns, melee weapons, and a few can only be taken down with certain weapons. I feel the placement is haphazard where using strategies in the last game over way overused here and end up being used to exploit the game to advance which is not fun at all. Enemies will see you if you can see them, this is how Hotline Miami works. If you can pan the camera further away you can get a quick sniper shot at them and a free hit, but for fewer points. One good strategy is moving in and out of a doorway really quick and lets some enemies see you, duck back into a corner and slice everyone up as they enter the doorway or around a corner. That was an infrequent strategy in Miami 1 but in 2 this has to be done to just get part way through one area. Miami 2 is also full of long-winded levels that seem to never end.
Abusing Miami 1’s strategies is a crying shame here since this game could have had so much potential for more enemies and new strategies. After halfway through the game the levels become large and hard to navigate with traditional Hotline Miami controls and gameplay. It’s almost like the game tried to go into a new direction but didn’t evolve its gameplay for it. Miami 2 is also twice as long as the first game, but it overstays its welcome after the second act. I literally felt like the game became a chore and just wanted it to end.
However, that’s not to say the whole “one more level” thing is gone. I was hooked and the constant trial and error had me restarting levels dozens and dozens of times to try a new strategy, but it wasn’t really an enjoyable “one more level” feeling. A lot of times I had to exploit the enemy AI, only certain levels can really be completed one way and if you start a level with the wrong weapon, kill the wrong guy first, or even so much as to kill all the enemies in the wrong order you’re pretty much screwed. More often than not I was restarting a level not because my strategy wasn’t sound, but because the enemy AI screwed everything up because he wasn’t patrolling the correct corridor or left a room he’s normally in and blindsides me when I least expect it. Usually, this is a good thing, but not when you’re forced to kill enemies in a certain way due to poor enemy placement being overwhelming.
With that said, I hate to say that there’s really no reason to come back to this game after you finish. Do I want to spend an entire week restarting level after level again and again? Of course not. I’d rather re-download the first game and enjoy the excellent Miami-ness without all the hair pulling. All in all, Miami 2 is not really a must play even for fans, if you end up never playing this you’re probably better off sticking with the first game.