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LONG BLOG

Casual & Biased Videogame Review - Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number

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There are three types of people concerning this review. The ones who enjoyed Hotline Miami, the ones who don't, and the ones who are more into its soundtracks. Those who like it should read it carefully. Those who don't can safely skip it, and the audiophiles might have to slog through the line of words to know how the songs fare this time.

Incoming spoilers ahoy (Including extreme spoilers for those who didn't finish the game), so be prepared...

Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is the sequel to the first game, and it's set in different timelines between the '80s and the '90s. The story this time concerns the repercussions caused by Jacket in the first game, which this time he was arrested and awaiting for trial while certain individuals around America were exploiting his notoriety for fame and attention. While the game not only follows the misadventures of these individuals, the game also cover on a certain person related to Jacket which might explain why Jacket committed the murders...

Other than it being a sequel, the game kept the same difficult gameplay as the original game, where you die trying to clear floor full of mooks and respawn everytime you're killed. But that's not all, the sequel provided more than just the same game as before.



This wouldn't be the '90s without a trunk shot.

While the original game utilises the mindscrew elements into the plot and borrowed inspiration from movies Cocaine Cowboys and Drive, the sequel decides to throw away most of the hallucination part and grounded more towards reality to uncover the whole story, and borrowing inspiration from Quentin Tarantino (who achieved fame during the '90s.) and one of Francis Ford Coppola's acclaimed film instead. The story was splitted and jumped between various timelines ala Pulp Fiction. In concept, it's an interesting way to tell the story and a fitting tribute to Tarantino himself. In reality though, it ended up being more confusing, not just because the story jumped timelines way too many times for us to keep track of the events, but also the story itself were stretched too long, as it spanned across 26 levels, including the equally important interactive cutscenes.

Unlike the last game which only have Jacket and Biker as playable characters, the sequel introduced multiple characters you'll play as at different chapters. There's the Pig Butcher, who's more or less an expy of Jacket without special abilities. The Detective have a faster aiming, the Writer whose preferred tactics are non-lethal, the Henchman who starts with a silenced pistol, and the Soldier who can stock up a bit of ammo from ammo crates. Finally, there's The Fans, a bunch of masks-wearing Jacket expies represents the different abilities of the masks of the first game. There's Corey (Zebra mask) who can dodge enemy bullets, Tony (Tiger mask) who has lethal fists but can't pick up weapons, Alex & Ash Davis (Swan masks) are twin siblings with a chainsaw and a gun that players can control by chainsawing and shooting mooks at the same time, and Mark (Bear mask) who wield dual SMGs from the start.

So far the only character that needs fixing are Alex & Ash, as sometimes Ash (The brother) have pathfinding issues while following Alex (The chainsaw-welding sister you're actually controlling).



One of the many playable characters in this game.

While the core gameplay remains enjoyable as always, the levels, which might vary to some people, are more infuriating than hard. First off, is that most of the levels are big, way too big. While big levels might seems fun, the fact when you keep dying while trying to spot enemies in a big map before getting killed yourself became more frustrating than ever. Secondly, is that there were too much focus on firearms than before. That's not to say that I don't enjoy shooting mooks in the face, which I do. There's so many enemies walking around a big map with guns, there are times you slaughter enemies through the map and suddenly you were killed by a stray shot from an enemy you can't see even as you look far away. Last but not least, is that almost every single map have a lot of windows, which might be responsible for about 70% of your deaths by bullets through windows or mooks saw you through windows and rush at you when you least expected it.

All of them combined will resulted in an occasionally unfair difficult experience much more infuriating than the first game, where you have to survive in a more cowardly way than before. There are times where I almost wanted to punch my laptop keyboard after getting killed for the 30th time, and who knows how many times PlayStation owners would throw their controllers or, God forbid, their precious Vita handhelds at the wall. Thus, this proved to be one of the example when 'bigger' doesn't necessary means 'better'. And this might sound unreasonable, but I'm actually wish that Dennaton Games would consider changing the level layouts to make it less frustrating, for the better.

That's not to say the sequel were considered unsalvagable. When you're placed in a more reasonably large map with fewer windows and more melee enemies, you'll start to have A LOT of fun. I'd still remember playing as Alex & Ash on a good area while slaughtering through those poor sods with pure utter joy, all while without having to worry about being a camper by distracting enemies to my position.



More gorier scenes coming right up!


(EXTREME SPOILERS BEGINS)

While the stories between timelines may seem incomprehensible to us at first, dedicated gamers who were willing to figure out the whole events will be in for a surprise (As some Reddit users found out). You could try and play through both Hotline Miami games and read the sequel digital comics while trying to piece every events in a single timeline, then you will discover why Jacket were willing to kill the Russian gangsters in the first place besides being threatened, how the Russo-American Coalition existed, why Beard appeared at every convinience store before being replaced by Richter in Jacket's imaginaton, and so on. If you managed to figure it all out and think about it, you'll find that the games managed to deviously send us a powerful message in secret too, about what happens when violence bred violence and escalated tenfold.


(EXTREME SPOILERS ENDS)


Is it me, or does this guy actually reminded us about the horrors?

Last but not least, we've reached what is the most well-known, and arguably one of the most important element of the Hotline Miami games. Yes, fellow readers, the soundtrack.

While the soundtrack of the first game is a surprise hit for us all, it still have the remaining influence from the Drive soundtrack. Even though I know that the movie is a main influence towards the game and it is inevitable that the movie soundtrack would also influence the game soundtrack, listening to Jasper Bryne's "Miami" while being reminded of Kavinsky's "Nightcall" can be quite distracting at times.

The sequel soundtrack, however, discard the Drive influence and go towards full originality while maintain the same techno beats that makes the first soundtrack famous in the first place. And the results are, for a lack of better word, spectacular to near perfection. Instead of using the same tunes for multiple levels (Admittedly, the sequel does uses the same new tunes for a few levels), almost every different levels have their own different yet appropriate and delicious theme songs. Although some of the tracks are not up to my liking, I would be lying if I didn't say that the whole soundtrack are wonderfully composed and sounds marvelous than before. And if you're still unconvinced how good the soundtrack is, then consider this. Like the first soundtrack, the sequel soundtrack is at the same price as the sequel game on Steam. That's how great the soundtrack is.



One of the theme song from the soundtrack. To be honest, some of them can also fit on the racing scenes of Initial D.

In conclusion amid all the words on this blog, yes, the stories between multiple timelines can be confusing even after repeated viewing. The big levels and the difficulty are harder than before, and often not for the better. But all is not loss, as the same unchanged gameplay, the anachronic storytelling can be a delight to those who were more invested in the story, and the soundtrack is undeniably greater than before.

Thus, I could recommended this game solely to Hotline Miami fans, but it's a pretty biased recommendation, given that I'm a big Hotline Miami fan as well, so take my words with a huge grain of salt.

Those who really enjoy the harder part of Hotline Miami or a masochist are safe to get this game at full price. Hotline Miami fans who are unsure if they could swallow the sudden unfair difficulty spike are recommended to wait till the game is discounted, so the lower price could ease the burden, or if better, the game's levels are remodified to be much more fair than before. But I do recommend getting the soundtrack, they're that good.

(SPOILER LINKS)

Hotline Miami 2 : Wrong Number chronology

Hotline Miami 2 : Wrong Number's ending breakdown theory

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(God, I really need a huuuge break after this.)

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About Rudorlfone of us since 10:24 PM on 11.26.2012



Some dude who was destined to filmmaking, but end up being sucked into the world of video games. And now he's trying to crawl his way out of his own insecurities, shrieking-violet, and self-despair. Time will tell whether he'll made it out alive.

Rumours is that he often communicate with his imaginary girlfriend (Probably is some redhead chick from Persona 3, a video game he didn't even played before) within his mind, but even he wasn't sure.

Wait, we're supposed to talk about video games, right?

Anyway, I have a 2013 mid-spec laptop, and too broke to even get a desktop till this day. Casual PC Gamer to the core.

My Preious Photoshop Works (As far as I can salvaged):
Phalanx Pheller's Not Dead
Phalanx Pheller's Not Dead 2
Waifuween
Waifuween II
Waifuween III: Season of the Bitch
Waifuween 4: The Return of Angie22
Waifuween 5: The Revenge of Angie22
Waifuween: The Curse of Angie22
SrChurros as Joseph Gordon-Levitt/Bruce Willis