Platforms: PC | PSN - CrossPlay (reviewed)
Developers: Dennaton Games | Abstraction Games
Publishers: Devolver Digital
I loved Hotline Miami on the PC. We all did. In fact, to be honest, Jon's review will suffice in telling you all you need to know about the game itself in convincing you to pick it up for the Vita if you've steered clear for some bizarre reason thus far. Everything is pretty much the same as it was: you still don an animal mask, carry out hits given to you via answerphone, and flounce around a 16-bit landscape battering the hell out of anyone you find for the sheer joy of battering the hell out of anyone that you find. It's still as sick and as twisted as it ever was, and just as brilliant. Therefore, my job is to explain one thing and pretty much one thing only to you...
It's even better on Sony's little handheld.
Dennaton's murderous romp is virtually identical on the Vita, but it handles far better than it ever did and the game's console launch has been much smoother than the bugfest that greeted early adopters on PC. You move about as you would in any twin-stick, aiming with the right stick whether on the Vita itself or taking advantage of CrossPlay to crack some skulls with the DualShock on PS3, and bumping people off with R1. Thankfully, Dennaton have separated out the execution button, mapping it to X for console purposes, so there's no confusion over swinging a bat normally or mashing someone's head through a wall.
Bereft of the mouse, targeting is still a cinch, particularly on Vita. You can hold down the Square button if you like or, if you're playing on the handheld, start poking that gorgeous OLED screen and tapping the enemies you'd like to have in your sights. It's still a speedy, raucous affair that loses nothing in PC-to-console translation by playing to the strengths of the platforms.
Indeed, the reckless, relentless pace of the game comes alive in your hands. Enemies can be downed with one hit, one well-aimed shot; but so can you. You can scan ahead a little way to prep for a confrontation in a few seconds' time, but that's about it by way of planning. Hotline Miami is all about nerve-wracking, fingernail-shredding, skin-of-your-teeth tension and improvisation. It's once again generous with its instant respawns, and the intention is clear: death really should worry you too much. You'll get yourself killed an awful lot in this game, but it's important to recognise that mortality is but a sleeping policeman on this bloodthirsty road.
The emphasis is on slick, seedy play that draws you in even more when the action is inches away from your eyeballs. The Vita really makes the gaudy, neon-soaked pixellated visuals pop, once again distilling a game into near-perfection and arguably providing the best experience yet. It makes perfect sense on the go, given that your lifespan is often endured for mere seconds. Sure, you smacked a guard down by kicking a door in on his head, then you spray painted the carpet with his mate's blood, slugged a third goon's skull for a home run, and turned a fourth henchman into a knife block, but did you remember to actually finish off the first guy? Oh, bugger. No matter, that took all of five seconds, I bet you can get another run in before the bus arrives.
It looks good, it sounds awesome, with the game's soundtrack surviving the transition, though you'll need a decent set of headphones when on the go. It also works very well if you've stuck the Drive soundtrack on your Vita. But do be careful: cackling to yourself on a packed train because you've just pulled off a 12-man murder spree as Kavinsky's 'Nightcall' echoes in your ears will get you some weird looks. But it'll also feel really good.
The arrival of the game on the Playstation Store adds two things. The Trophies are well implement, although they more or less just reinforce the game's own systems. There's so much openness to the gameplay naturally, that chances are you'll have clocked most of the list by the tie that the credits roll, but gunning back through the levels to reach for those A+ ratings for each mission might take some doing. There are awards, too, for finding all of the weapons and using them at least once, collecting all of the masks, and getting kill streaks and combo murder chains together. Once again, many of the masks you snaffle up will give you little passive boosts, and there's a brand-new one for this version of the game that colours the action in monochrome black and white, save for the plentiful splatter of blood that provides a new punchline to the question, 'What's black and white and red all over? '
So, yeah, it's Hotline Miami. It's beautiful, bloody, and brilliant. And now it's on the Playstation Store. And you should buy it. Your Vita needs it.
- It's Hotline Miami
- Furiously addictive
- Makes the transition to the portable platform perfectly
- Well-implemented controls
- Monochrome mask is aesthetcally striking
- Looks fantastic on the Vita's screen
- The uber violence might upset some
- That awful stealth level is still in there
The Short Version: Hotline Miami is the same game it always was, but the immediacy of the Vita, that closer visual proximity to the action, the tactile incorporation of the OLED touchscreen, the stark monchromatic new mask that highlights the brutal, binary nature of this game, it all adds up to a fantastic package. It's as addictive, violent, frantic, and immensely satisfying as ever. It's Hotline Miami -- it's awesome.