Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number ReviewPrice:
PC, PS4, PS3, Vita
The original Hotline Miami was like Willy Wonka's Action Factory. A brightly coloured and gratuitously violent game entirely about the moment, Dennaton Games created a world of pure exhilaration. The difference between life and death existed in slivers of time you'd need an atomic clock to measure, and survival depended upon constant forward momentum regardless of what lay in your path. Hotline Miami just kept on going, even when the gaudy eighties reality is presented began to fray around the edges, its sprinkling of story tantalisingly hinting that all was not as it seemed.
Hotline Miami left me utterly thrilled, and I was looking forward to the sequel immensely. Yet when the credits rolled on Hotline Miami 2, mostly what I felt was relief, tainted with not a small amount of bewilderment. Whereas Hotline Miami was short, sharp, and strange, Hotline Miami 2 is long, baggy, and borderline incomprehensible. Although it retains that compulsive core of tooth-and-nail, muscle-memory combat that made the original so enjoyable, the package it is presented in is nothing like as cohesive.
Things start out promisingly enough. Thrusting the player straight into the action, we assume the role of a portly psychopath known as the Pig Butcher in the process of invading somebody's home. The opening acts as a reintroduction to Hotline Miami's combat, which is all about precision, planning, and reacting accordingly when the plan inevitably goes awry. The situation appears to take an incredibly grim turn, when suddenly the music squeals to a halt and the director wraps the scene. It turns out you're an actor working on the film 'Midnight Animal' a fictional retelling of the story of Hotline Miami's original protagonist, the door-kicking, head-splitting force of nature simply known as 'Jacket'.
At this point the scene changes again, switching to a group of thrill-seeking thugs emulating the actions of Jacket. "Aha, so this is where the story begins in earnest!" I thought. Except it doesn't, because the story isn't really about these hoodlums. Neither is it about the detective investigating Jacket's killings, or the journalist attempting to write a book about them, or the platoon of soldiers fighting a guerrilla war in Hawaii in a series of flashbacks set two years before the events of Wrong Number. In fact, Hotline Miami 2 doesn't appear to be about anything at all.
Of course, this isn't the case. Hotline Miami 2 absolutely has a plot, but it's completely smothered by the choppy narrative style. The endless flashbacks and flash-forwards, and use of twelve
character perspectives are completely disorienting. It's like Dennaton fed a Tarantino movie reel through a crosscut shredder, and glued the frames back together in whichever order they were plucked from the pile.