Surprise ultra-violent indie hit, Hotline Miami graced PC’s around the world in October 2012, propelling Devolver Digital into the spotlight. Eight months down the line it finally makes its console/handheld debut, but does it translate well from mouse and keyboard to a joypad?
Hotline Miami is a top down shooter, stylised in 2D pixels it takes the best of Smash TV, Manhunt and the movie Drive and throws them altogether in a fast paced, addictive rollercoaster of blood, bullets and beheading. You play the role of an unnamed psychotic ‘hitman’, who receives answer phone messages with little more than an address. You then head to said address and kill everybody in the building. You start each level with nothing more than your fists and an animal mask. And after each stage, you pick up your ‘pay’ and trot off back home, where you have strange visions that piece together the strange story.
The gameplay is addictive. Angry Birds addictive. You move from room to room, grabbing any weapons you can as you attempt to silence each enemy. The more brutal and reckless you are, the higher score you get. You even get scored on ‘boldness’ at the end of the level. Sneaking around in this game not only doesn’t reward you, but also can leave you at a disadvantage as enemies try and sniff you out after hearing the slightest noise.
At the start of the level you choose your mask (from those you’ve unlocked) and each comes with its own special ability. Everything from starting with a drill to lethal hits from doors, reversed controls to being able to take 2 bullets before dying, each mask is unique. Pair this with the huge number of weapons in the game; you have a combination to do serious damage. Samurai swords, uzis, shotguns, bottle and golf clubs are among the tools for carnage that you acquit yourself with, and they definitely leave a bloody mess everywhere you go.
The game controls like a twin stick shooter. Left stick does movement, right stick controls your aim, R1/R to shoot/attack, L1/L to pick up or throw your current weapon. It does control a lot better on Vita than PS3, neither though compare to a mouse and keyboard. There is a lock on feature included in this version, but in the heat of battle you rarely have time to think, let alone mark and lock on to an enemy, rendering it pretty useless.
Enemies die with a single bullet or blow from a melee weapon, as do you, so you’ll find yourself restarting a fair few times. This makes using the environment to your advantage an important part of making it through a level alive. You can shoot through certain wall, kick doors into your foes to knock them down and herd them into bottle neck situations where you can mow them down with an assault rifle to take as many out as possible. Stringing combos together is satisfying, for example throwing a knife at one enemy, using his shotgun to clear a room, kicking a door into the guy coming at you from behind and then using his steel pipe to dest
roy the dog that’s sprinting towards you not only looks cool, but rewards you with a huge score, unlocking new masks and weapons.
Overall it’s a decent port from the PC version and you get both copies thanks to cross buy. The controls on the PS3 are a bit fiddly, so I would play the Vita version if you can. It looks gorgeous and has an absolute belter of a soundtrack, not to mention it’s addictive as crack. If you love your indie arcade games then this is a no brainer. If you’re not so keen, at least give it a try, at £6.29 it’s a bargain.