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Hotline Miami Review

Hotline Miami Review

The year is 1989, the place is Miami, FL. For the last few months you've been starting off your day the same way - answering mysterious phone calls advising of odd jobs such as delivery, pest control, plumbing, baking, escorting, etc. Whether it's the result of some deep seated hypnotic suggestion, or memorizing an elaborate catchphrase system, you fire up your DeLorean and show up at the given address with the task of killing everyone on site. You don't question why you're being made to do this, how it all makes sense, or care what direction of the moral compass you're walking on. You just know that when considering all the options life gave you, you'd much rather be doing this.

Hotline Miami is the gaming equivalent to the phrase "S%!t just got real." Exhibiting some influences from high octane crime films such as Drive, Crank, and with a dash of David Lynch, this is a top-down experience that revels in the controversial use of violence for self-gratification. Each stage is laid out as multi-floored locations where shots will be fired, skulls will be smashed, disembowelment just happens, boiling water ends up cooking faces and eyes will be gouged - pretty much everything that would put certain parents' panties in a bunch.

To give you an edge over whatever adversaries you'll encounter, you're given a collection of animal masks to choose from at the start of each stage - each endowing you with unique abilities such as instant killing punches, increased speed, shrouding a stage in darkness, or just having you starting out with a certain weapon. As you progress, more masks can be unlocked either through hi-scores or by finding them stowed away in obscure parts of certain levels.

But while most violent games grant an immediately accessible high, Hotline Miami makes you work for it. This is a game where you're going to die, a lot. All it takes is just one hit and back to the beginning of the level you go. Enemies don't just patrol areas by themselves, they also appear in groups carrying all slew of guns and weapons ranging from blunt to sharp. The minute you're spotted, or your presence is felt, thugs will come at you with such back breaking speed the realization of death only occurs well after your insides have painted the carpet.

Forget having your hand held by a radar system fitted with cones representing enemy sight. Strategizing and planning is key where you'll have to select your order of thugs to dispatch within an area, weighing the pros and cons of alarming foes to your location after discharging a firearm, or just saying "screw it" and go in recklessly. No matter your approach, there's no wrong way of playing the game as you're awarded points for whatever style you choose, even more if you've handled things swiftly.

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