I’ve sank a lot of hours into the PSN version and if you can get into Hotline Miami, this game is an intense, rewarding game on the verge of frustrating.
Hotline Miami is exactly what it looks like, a top down dual stick shooter that relies on stealth and strategy instead of guns blazing. Each level consists of 2 floors. Your mission is to clear out the building of bad guys. Only problem is anyone can kill you. Melee weapons are quick kills at close range, but guns have limited ammo and make big noise. Usually everyone comes running when there is a noise, so its best to keep the guns until the last few bad guys. You can use your fists if you have no weapons, but you need to finish them off once they’re down.
There is an auto lock on mechanism, but really, it doesn’t work all that well. Every attack from an enemy happens pretty instantly. So if you failed to auto lock on, you’re most likely dead. This is a game that seems to get tougher the more you play the same level. Not only can it get frustrating, where you become careless, but there is an element of random. Guys that would normally stay in one room suddenly 10% of the time come out to kill you. Guys that are normally easy kills 9 out of 10 times will just turn around and kill you. While an element of random is good, it just gets needlessly frustrating.
The enemy AI is really good, quick and lethal, they can shoot you from off screen. While you can use a map scroll to see enemies off screen, you can’t really use it in the heat of battle let alone when auto lock doesn’t work. One bullet or melee weapon and you’re dead. Same for all of the enemies.
This really makes for a fast paced action game. The only downtime is between levels. If you fail, you instantly start back at the floor you were just at. That is really good to keep pushing you forward when there is very little punishment for failing. However, your save file starts at the beginning of each building and not floor.
There are unlockable masks that have different skills, such as thrown weapons kill people, dealier punches, animals won’t attack you, doors kill people (doors are a great way to knock a slew of enemies off their feet, but you need to finish them). You can only use one mask at a time of course, but it adds a different layer of strategy to the game.
In all, I highly recommend it, but really, its not for everyone. It is not a soothing game. Its an artistic, trippy, intense game with a good story that unfolds, but it won’t bog you down in story.