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I bought Hotline Miami on the recommendation of my friends. I was told that it was one of the best games of the year. For those who don't know Hotline Miami is an Indie game produced by Dennaton and released on Steam through the Green light program. Let's take a look at it.
About the game:
Hotline Miami is set in Miami in the late 80's, it is an experience that harkens back to the days of 2d shooters and represents that period in gaming effectively. It is a story heavy single player experience that tells you very little until much later into the game which gives the player an opportunity to explore and develop their own version of events. There is very little that I can share, without ruining the experience so we will look at the technicals instead.
This game's soundtrack is ridiculously good, with a retro style and a strong 80's sound you get seriously pumped up while wiping your enemies off the map. The music fits the time period perfectly and your attacks sound strong and brutal in an 8 bit style.
I can only describe the graphics as old. Based off of a 16 bit engine, Hotline looks like the original Grand Theft Autos. Blocky and pixelated it seems like it could have been made in the late 80's on a big box arcade. Though it is just a series of pixels you never feel as though you can't make out the characters, items or set pieces around you. The only issue with this style is that without shading, you can't really be sure if you can hide behind cover or if it is only waist high.
The game play is fast and harsh. Hotline is probably the most violent game that I've played this year. With the ability to put the bat to someone or chase a crawling enemy down and knock his head into the ground until he sprays blood across your surroundings, you will get your aggressive kicks out to be sure. One of the most ridiculous combos that I've done, was to take down a guy with a bat, pick up his pipe to smash someone else, walk into the kitchen grab a pot of boiling water and pour it on another guy's face. Fast paced and brutal, you walk through the game wondering what the reason for your aggression is, this is answered in the later levels and the violence seems to fit fairly well once you learn more about your protagonists journey. Each level is scored by a variety of factors including how bold you were and what your largest combo was. The more reckless you are, the higher your point total. Don't expect to make it through alive on your first try, you will die. Many times, but the game doesn't punish you harshly for this. The levels save on each floor of each level you play and the respawn time is fairly instantaneous. To help you out in your journey you aquire masks that each have special abilities that can be earned by having a high score in each level or by locating them on the map as a collectable.
The Nitty Gritty:
This game can sometimes be incredibly frustrating. The hit box detection can be unresponsive leaving you shooting a guy in the face and him not dieing, just to turn around and own you. Also, it is not optimized for dual monitor displays and your mouse doesn't lock to your main display. I found myself clicking outside of my main monitor and stopping the game, only to jump back in and die immediately due to the dog that was on my ass. I sometimes get a strange bug after a couple of re spawns where the floor textures disappear and the screen flickers like I'm in a crappy rave and once I was on the last part of a very difficult level and the last enemy clipped through a wall, never to be seen again leaving the level unfinishable. But all in all, these are small gripes for an otherwise amazing experience that will keep you coming back for more.
The Round up:
After looking at the pros and cons, I give this game an 8 out of 10.
For the price (between 2.50$ and 10$ depending on sales) you can't do any better.