So earlier in the year I wrote a late review for the Steam release of “Hotline Miami”- a top-down, 16bit, ultra violent homage to “Drive” and seemingly the 80s in general. A fluid mix of carefully planned stealth and hectic shootouts, the game was fun, interesting and original and definitely worth picking up. June 26th saw the European release of a downloadable PS3/PS Vita cross-buy pack for the game featuring a new stage, a new mask and – obviously – full gamepad control. Eager to dive back into the hazy, synth-filled killing sprees I enjoyed so much on PC, I bought the PS3 version and quickly ran through it. What follows here won’t be a review of the game as a whole (apart from the level and mask it’s the same as the PC release, the review for which is here: https://thereviewingfloor.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/hotline-miami-review/), but my thoughts on what has been added and on this port as a whole.
When I first started up the game the control felt awkward. Moving the stick in any kind of gentle/casual way in a specific direction will make Jacket instantly face that way, which for the duration of the mandatory tutorial section I thought was the only way to aim. It turns out, however, that if you push the stick out and hold it, you can then spin Jacket 360 degrees as you would with the mouse and keyboard set-up, which works a lot better and once you get to grips with it makes the game feel a lot more comfortable to play. Using the left thumb stick to move feels natural as does using the face and shoulder buttons to attack, but that was never going to be a problem; the central issue was always going to be aiming, at least for me anyway. Fortunately it turned out well, once I got to grips with it.
The new mask is called “Russell” and is a bull. It’s function is to make the game high-contrast black and white, with the exception of the blood and UI (namely, your ammo count and score). Much like the “Oscar” mask the filter has little gameplay use and is instead an aesthetic difference (although the Oscar mask made the game harder, it was purely because it made it hard to see- the enemies weren’t affected at all). As an aesthetic difference, it’s a cool one- high-contrast black and white may be slightly cliched but I’m a fan, and I think it works well here. The coloured blood gives a “Madworld”/”Sin City” kind of vibe, which is a plus.
The new chapter is called “Exposed” and set at the Euro Gamer Expo. Like “Highball” it is a story-less bonus chapter in a uniquely shaped environment, this time with little cover. I’m not a fan of the bonus levels myself (I prefer the multi-leveled story chapters), but it was a nice inclusion.
My small problems with the original PC game are still present (namely irritatingly unpredictable A.I and the crap forced stealth chapter), plus another thrown in for good measure: the game completely froze up on me a few times (usually just after I’d beaten a difficult section) and I had no option other than hard resetting the console. It was annoying, but nothing too serious, and I’ve beaten the game no problem.
The PS3 version doesn’t add a great deal, but that’s speaking from the perspective of someone who bought, completed and loved the PC version. For those who didn’t play it and are coming to it fresh, that’s not a problem, and considering this version is slightly cheaper than the full-price Steam release, it’s a win-win for them. If you haven’t already bought the game and can handle some violence, pick it up- this is an original, fun, challenging experience that offers far more enjoyment than several full price, triple A titles released in the last few months. If you already own the PC version, consider whether the new features are worth buying this version for.
By James Lambert
Oh, I’m finally getting “The Last of Us” tomorrow, so the review for that will be next, followed by one for “The Walking Dead: 400 Days”