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.



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


Top 5 Games of 2013, so far…

I must admit, when making a list of all the games I’ve played this year so far, I had no idea how difficult a task it would be to only pick 5. It’ll be interesting to see if any of these 5 games make it into the top 10 games list at the end of the year, with next-gen just around the corner. Some of the games listed, you may not have played yet and hopefully this list will encourage you to pick it up. To make it on this list, the games had to be memorable, an experience I wanted to go through again. As a package, everything had to be at least enjoyable, that includes any multiplayer or co-op mode. Finally, all games had to be worth the price of admission, every penny you spend on the game had to feel like it was well spent on a quality product.

1. The Last of Us – It really is this good, I promise you. The story was nothing short of one of the best experiences I’ve ever had with games. Characters I cared for, situations I cringed at, A.I. that was fun to play against and a conclusion that leaves me more than curious to see where Naughty Dog may go in the future with the franchise or DLC. Then there’s the multiplayer, and once again, it’s amazing. The focus on survival, crafting and limited ammo makes the multiplayer feel unlike anything you’ve ever played. Each life is just as precious as the next. After putting over 15 hours into it, I can’t wait to see it expand with more modes and maps through DLC.

2. Bioshock Infinite – I remember playing the original Bioshock like it was yesterday, I played through that game numerous times. Unfortunately, Bioshock Infinite didn’t capture the magic of Rapture for me. That’s not so say it’s a bad game however, quite the opposite actually. This game shown gamers that the main driving force of the game doesn’t have to be the playable character, but it can be a companion character. Elizabeth was the best friend we always wanted, come the end of the game, all we care about is the safety of her character. That’s great story telling and writing if I ever saw it.

3. Tomb Raider – Never talk about a game exceeding expectations until you’ve played Tomb Raider. This game shocked me with its brutality, yet drew me in with the development of Lara Croft as a character. A simple explorer, turned true survivalist. From her first kill, to losing some of her closest friends, we see a side of Lara Croft that I want to see more of. Multiplayer is perhaps a little more average in comparison to the single player, but when your setting traps, zip lining across maps and hunting down your friends, it can be a lot of fun.

4. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon – For the price of admission, you’ll find it hard to get better value than this. When most shooters seem to focus on the realism and Russian enemies, the idea of playing a cyber commando and dragons shooting lasers out their eyes is a pleasant one. As it turns out, it was. For a 1/4 of the price of a retail game, you got just as much content. Funny, over-the-top, great soundtrack, fantastic art style, it’s the game every fan of movies from the 80’s has to play. Now if only we could see a sequel or full a Far Cry game in this style, Ubisoft would be on to a winner.

5. Metro: Last Light – If you wanted to play a survival horror, first-person shooter with a captivating story, then Metro: Last Light has you covered. Graphics that will push your PC to its limits, stealth gameplay that feels satisfying yet violent, Metro as a franchise is heading to the right direction. Improving upon its predecessor in every way, I’m interested in where they may go with the series next. There’s always that rumoured cut multiplayer content they may want to expand into a game, or maybe try to tell some stories from different view points. Nether the less, with Deep Silver now own the publishing rights to Metro, we may see more, sooner than you think.

Honourable Mentions – Dead Space 3, God of War: Ascension, State of Decay, Crysis 3 and Injustice: God Among Us.


The Last of Us – First Impressions

Buy it. NOW!

Buy it. NOW!

PlayStation 3 Exclusive

If Naughty Dog are to be remembered for anything, I bet you it would be the Uncharted series. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Uncharted games, they’re some of the most cinematic games I’ve ever played and they have some of the best characters written for video games. But in my eyes, from the 2 – 3 hours I’ve put into The Last of Us so far, I think this my be their greatest achievement yet.

The Last of Us is set against a post apocalypse setting 20 years after a viral infection nearly wipes out mankind. You play as Joel and you’re tasked with escorting a young girl named Ellie across a dangerous US, having to deal with both the infected and bandits. This is a third person game like their Uncharted games, but is much focused on stealth and melee combat rather than being an all out shooter. Due to the rarity of bullets, you’ll end up only using your gun when you’ve got no other choice.

They will hunt you. Find you. Kill you.

They will hunt you. Find you. Kill you.

There’s nothing quite like a memorable opening to a game. Setting the tone for the rest of the game and establishing the characters. The Last of Us has easily one of the best openings to a game I’ve ever experienced. It blew my mind. Never before have I felt such an emotional connection to characters and what’s happening all around them. Believe it or not, I actually replayed the opening 30 minutes again straight after. I’ve never done that before, usually saving such a feeling for a second play through. But I had to see it all again and I’m still looking forward to playing it yet again when I go through the game on a harder difficulty.

The rest of the game since then has been exceptional too, don’t think it the lets it foot off the gas for one second. Characters are so lifelike, the writing, voice acting and graphical quality all help towards this. Coming to the end of a generation of consoles, you’d expect we’d seen the best from the PS3. Naughty Dog has quite the reputation for having such high graphical quality and they have stepped up the bar once again. Even I had my doubts, but they were put to rest at the very second I saw playing out in front of me. The animations are just as good too, from the simplest animations of walking and running to complex and totally believable animations that play when you’re strangling an enemy from behind.

Combat seen in the game is simple, but mastering to lure enemies and strike at the right time is essential to your survival. Even when playing on normal, it doesn’t take many bullet to put you down. The hand-to-hand is incredibly violent and get more violent as you start to get your hands of metal pipes and 2×4’s. The Uncharted series may have had a focus on shooting, but many fans will confess that the shooting took a little while to get use to, enemies felt like damage sponges and shots didn’t feel like they had impact. Naughty Dog have finally nailed it, maybe the feeling that each bullet counts helps towards the feeling, but the shooting in The Last of Us has a great weighty feel to it.

Mine FTW!

Mine FTW!

The enemies seen in the game have some fantastic A.I. behind them too. At one point I had grabbed someone from behind but got spotted as I tried to choke him out. At this point I saw 2 enemies in a warehouse run into cover and out of sight. It was at this moment I had just finished choking out the guy, only to be flanked by an enemy whom had no weapons and had to rely on using his hands to take me down. I never saw him coming and turned around straight into a punch to the face off him. After dealing with him I then moved into the warehouse and the last guy was hiding behind a box, but I didn’t know where. It was only when I walked into the open did he pop out and get a couple of shots at me. I felt like I had been outsmart for the first time ever in a game.

Infected on the other hand behave a lot like many other infected in games and will simply chase you down once they’re aware of your presence. Clickers and Runners are the two types of infected and the Runners resemble the infected from the movie 28 Days Later or even the remake of Dawn of the Dead. On the other side of the coin though are the Clickers, these guys are blind and use a sonar like ability to find out and rely solely on sound you make. These guys a frightening and will kill you once they have a hold of you. They’re very hard to take out to, so good luck, I died several times when thrown in a room full of infected.

As I’m in the early days of the relationship between Joel and Ellie, it’s hard for me to say what the chemistry is like. Early signs are good though, and if it ends up anything like the way other characters interact with each other, then I know I’ve got much to look forward to. Now the game also includes a crafting system, and whilst a simple mechanic within the game, crafting items on the fly in the middle of a fight is a great risk/ rewards system and can help turn the tide of the battle.

Multiplayer is looking to be just as brutal.

Multiplayer is looking to be just as brutal.

I’ve currently not had the chance to play the multiplayer, but it’s something I can’t wait to get stuck into later. Called Factions, you must initially pick a faction to join, being aligned with the hunters or fireflies. Each player begins with a small number of survivors that must be kept alive and grown over time. You accomplish this in two modes, the first of which is Supply Raid. In this mode, your team has 20 reinforcements. Once they’re exhausted, the match will go to sudden death. In the Survivors mode, no one can respawn. Once you die, you’re finished until the next round begins. Matches are best of seven, meaning the first team to win four rounds, wins the match.

Everything I’ve played so far suggests that The Last of Us is shaping to be the game to beat this year, like many reviewers have stated. Unfortunately, with the next generation kicking off this holiday season, I hope The Last of Us doesn’t get forgotten about as the GOTY nominations get announced. Now please excuse me as I go off and play some more of The Last of Us.


Game Dev Tycoon (2013) Review

Succeed or Fail, you'll have fun!

Succeed or Fail, you’ll have fun!

Version Played: PC

Video Games are such a massive part of my life. They have been ever since I got playing the SEGA Master System II way back in the day. So when I found out that a game called Game Dev Tycoon made it possible for you to live out your fantasies of owning a game company, I couldn’t wait to try it out.

Greenheart Games first game release, Game Dev Tycoon allows you replay the history of the gaming industry by starting your own video game development company in the 80s. Creating best-selling games. Researching new technologies and inventing new game types. Becoming the leader of the market and gaining worldwide fans. It’s truly that awesome!

The main objective in the game is to evolve, make games that sell well over 1 million copies and not go bankrupt. Playing through 30 years of the industry up to the modern-day, you will be making games for publishers and becoming the major studio or the hidden indie gem. You start off in the 80s, in your garage naming your company and once you have made over 1 million, you then can move into a studio. Through research and hiring new staff, your studio evolves the way you want it to. Want to be a developer that focuses on story driven games only on the PC? That can work.

You research new topics like Horror and Fantasy to make those type of games. Every once in a while some topics may be more popular than others, then it’s up to you if you want to take advantage of that. Making games is all about matching up the topic with genres and picking the platform you will release the game on. After that, your treated to sliders that represent different factors of game development. Graphics, Sound, Level Design and so on. You then have to move these sliders up and down to see what you want to focus more on during the development. It’s all about nailing those sliders. For example, you’ll want to focus less on a story with a simulation game. Later on, it can get a little more complicated by having you assign different staff to different sliders, making sure they are working on something they are comfortable with.

When you make that multi-million selling game, the satisfaction level goes through the roof. The reviews come in, it scores great. Then the sales come in and it’s climbing and climbing through the thousands. Then you know you have a franchise with sequel written all over it. That’s the general idea of the game, and even though it may sound like it could get repetitive, it really never does. Every few years see the release of consoles we all grew up with. It stays true to real life too. When the Wii (called Nuu in the game, some of the names are great!) gets released for example, even though it dominated for the first few years, sales drop soon after and it is no longer a wise choice to develop for.

Once your rolling in the money, you’ll then be able to afford marketing and going to game conventions. It is wise to go to a convention when you have a game in development as it boosts up the hype quite a bit and can increase sales if review scores are good. Your able to train your character and your staff too, increasing their stats to make them more effective when developing games or researching. When money is low though, that’s when palms get sweaty and you have to pull off a miracle game to save your company. The bank does give you an overdraft and can even offer assistance as long as you pay them back with interest a year later. At times of multi-million selling game franchises or when your begging the bank for money, Game Dev Tycoon hardly ever has any down time.

Having made it through the 30 years with my company ‘Yellow Brick Wall’, I was pleased to find out that you can continue to play on and develop games after those 30 years. Only the story elements and release of consoles comes to an end. After the 30 years, everything you have achieved is put into perspective, with stats and high score showing how well your company has done. Even after the 30 years, my company is still growing and expanding. I hear you can make your very own games console, and I’m still to reach that level of awesomeness yet!

With Game Dev Tycoon, available from Greenheart Games website (Over Here) for $7.99 or your regional equivalent, I have no problem what so ever recommending it. If you grew up with video games, then it is probably a hidden desire to run your own company and create your own franchise. Game Dev Tycoon gives you the ability to do that. Go have some fun and see if you can survive the whole 30 years!

93 Fans Gained out of 100