Hotline Miami (2013) Review

Get ready... To die.

Get ready… To die.

Version Played: PS3

I’ve said before that I wasn’t around for the 80’s, but it must have been good as we now have yet another game influence by the time period. Not just that, but Hotline Miami is also heavily influenced by 2011, cult classic, Drive. A movie so entertaining and violent, it’s hard not to enjoy it. But do all these influences make Hotline Miami a good game? No, they make Hotline Miami a fantastic game, one you should have downloading right now. Released on PC at the end of 2012, only now do we see a port of the game on PS3/ PS Vita, with cross-buy no less!

The story of Hotline Miami is a big surprise for me, being extremely twisted and fun to play through. You’ll play as an unnamed character that fans have come to name ‘Jacket’, due to the distinctive jacket he wears. You’ll start off at Jacket’s apartment, and will listen to your phone messages that give you instructions to go somewhere and kill some people. These messages are always discreet, asking you to pick up your dry cleaning at a certain address, when really they’re asking you to go and kill someone there. They are a great read, and can lead to some laughs along the way.

Once at your destination, your then tasked with picking a mask to wear to hide your identity. These masks, all of different animals, give you a perk of sorts, some let you survive a few extra shots, others let you start with a weapon. There’s even a mask that is exclusive to the PS3/ PS Vita versions of the game, a mask that turns the game black and white but leaves in the bright red of the blood, giving a very ‘Sin City’ feel to the game. From here, you have to enter the area and kill everyone inside, one that’s done, you’ll go to somewhere like a V/H/S rental shop or a pizza place and get something for free off your friend there. Then the process repeats itself, with the story moving along with it.

Straight to the point, I respect that.

Straight to the point, I respect that.

All that killing would actually become quite tiresome if it wasn’t for the amazing soundtrack too. Being upbeat, electric and 100% 80’s style, it can get you bobbing your head and tapping you feet in no time. The music makes the game pretty hypnotic too, killing to the beats of the music as it loops in the background. Whilst I’d still say that Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon had the better soundtrack of the year so far, I still recommend you pick up the soundtrack as soon as you can.

Then there’s the top-down, 8-bit inspired graphics. From the face close-ups, to the violence taking place on-screen as you murder your way through the level, they are a joy to look at. My worry with this style of graphics is losing some to the detail and not being able to make something out that is relevant. Thankfully, the visuals here are extremely polished and bring back memories of playing the first couple GTA games on the PS1. For that, I couldn’t thank them enough, and the graphics help sell that 80’s feel more so than todays HD textures and detail.

Colour everywhere!

Colour everywhere!

As for gameplay, it’s essentially a twin-stick shooter. I’ve played many of these in the past on various consoles, and most of them have controlled wonderfully. However due to the precise nature needed and the high difficulty in Hotline Miami, I had my doubts. Those doubts were put to rest pretty quickly, it may take a few chapters to really nail the feel for the game as it’s so fast paced, but once you have, the game became a joy to control and with the inclusion of a lock-on button for more precise aiming, you’ll be slaughtering your way through the levels in no time. Despite that though, I feel a keyboard and mouse would still be the most ideal way to control the game.

At just £6.49, it’s impossible to state just how much game you’re getting for your money. I’ve been playing it for so long, completing the game several times and collecting all the secrets, masks and weapons, let’s just say spending £20 still would have felt just as fair. There may not be any extra modes apart from the story chapters, but there are a few extra chapters that are just for fun and a scoring system gives extra incentive to replay and get those A+. The scoring system goes off the combos you’ve managed to pick up during the level as well as time bonuses and how direct you were. This scoring system is what helps unlock some masks and extra weapons that will be available in the chapters.

SPLAT!

SPLAT!

I could talk for hours on the topic of Hotline Miami, a game costing just £6.49 giving me just as much enjoyment as a £40 game. The indie scene is a major player in the games industry moving forward, and if they keep developing games as crazy and unique as this, then I can’t wait to see what pops up in the near future. Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is the sequel to this amazing game, and whether or not it will come directly to the PS3/ PS Vita alongside the PC release is yet to be announced. Due for release at the end of 2013, I cannot wait to get my hands on it. So treat yourself, whether on PC, PS3 or PS Vita, pick up Hotline Miami, support the indie and put that mask on, it’s going to be a long night.

96 Animal Masks out of 100

-ast

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Rising from the Grave: Syphon Filter

Your the best, around!

You’re the best, around!

Today, I have to watch and play things in order. It’s who I am. If I fancy re-watching Rocky IV, then I’ll start from the beginning and work my way up the ladder. As for games, when Assassins Creed 3 was due out, I went and replayed all previous games leading up to the release of the third one. I did the exact same thing when Mass Effect 3 was almost out, I went back to the first entry in the series and started a new character I could play as I an inevitable second/ third play through. When I was younger though, I couldn’t have cared less. That’s why I start at Syphon Filter 2, then went on to the first game, and finished with the third.

Syphon Filter is a game series about stopping the release of a deadly virus named Syphon Filter. You usually play as Gabe Logan, however you also are put into the shoes of many of characters in certain levels during your play through of the games. The last Syphon Filter game was released 6 years ago, with the suspected death of Gabe Logan, but he is a videogame character and could easily return with the correct writing. I won’t lie, my experience with the series ended with Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain, which I didn’t like. But the original trilogy was so good, fun to play and had great boss fights. SCE Bend Studio is behind all Syphon Filter games, they’re also behind the more recent Resistance and Uncharted games for the PS Vita. But will Sony now use them to create a new chapter in the Syphon Filter series on PS4 or will they stick with PS Vita development? This is ‘Rising from the Grave: Syphon Filter’.

I hated this level in the first SF.

I hated this level in the first SF.

Why? I could have gone off saying Sony need this because Splinter Cell is seemingly sided with Microsoft. But with Splinter Cell now releasing on PS3 as well as Xbox 360, does Sony really need to bring back Syphon Filter? It’s usually seen as a stealth-action game, and sure we don’t have a load of those right now. I’m finding it really hard to find a reason for them to get behind another Syphon Filter. Don’t get me wrong, I want it. If Sony announced this, it would become one of my most anticipated games ever. Sony have lots of exclusives already announced for PS4, and the more the merrier, and perhaps this is what Sony may want. A stealth-action exclusive game, for PS4, from a studio that knows the genre and licence better than anyone no less. Honestly though, if they did announce the game, I would probably see it as a game Sony got behind to simply add to the number of exclusives for PS4. Nothing more.

How could it improve? New generation, new look. With the power of the PS4 behind them, a globe-trotting adventure of espionage and saving the world sounds nice. People also have certain expectations these days with third person games, so a familiar control scheme will help with selling the game to people who may think Syphon Filter’s golden age has come and gone. I remember playing the multiplayer, split-screen with my mum. A ton of fun, feeling a lot like a third person Goldeneye. Multiplayer is of course a massive selling point for a lot of people, so some imagination and originality would go a long way in making a great multiplayer component.

Realistically, could this game happen? SCE Bend Studio have been working on something for the past couple years, what it is exactly, we do not yet know. They have vast experience working with the PS Vita, however this coupled with the fact that the PS Vita isn’t getting nearly enough games that it deserves, I think if we are to get any new Syphon Filter game, it will only be on the PS Vita. I hope I’m wrong, perhaps being able to stream any PS4 game to your PS Vita will help in the decision to make the next Syphon Filter a PS4 game.

Reminds me of the Air Taser, good times!

Reminds me of the Air Taser, good times!

Probability of Rising from the Grave: 45%

-ast