Eurogamer Expo 2012 – Hotline Miami First Impressions
Described as “The game Rockstar wants to make but can’t” Hotline Miami is a fast paced and incredibly brutal top down brawler. Death is a frequent and occasionally maddening occurrence resulting in all manner of gloriously graphic animations. Stylistically the game is inspired by pixel art and the current retro games trend. It looks good but in some respects it seems to be pixels for the sake of pixels. The demo code on show was also subject to significant screen tear which I presume will be fixed before the final code is released. Did that bother me? Not one bit. Put simply the game is an absolute blast.
Hotline Miami is a game of anticipation and preparation. Of calculating the best possible route through the carnage then executing your plan. The thing is, things will go wrong, repeatedly. Each stage is a set piece of mayhem in a top down view of a building with multiple floors. Your goal, to absolutely, positively kill every mother f****r in the room. Levels are designed to make you feel as though you are taking part in a spectacular scene from a 1980’s action flick. Gunfights can last mere seconds, are gloriously over the top and the audiovisual treatment of the game serves to ensure they remain comedic rather than grim.
Burst into a room by kicking down a door which in turn sends the first enemy falling to the floor, tapping spacebar initiates a finishing move in which you smash his head repeatedly on the floor. The red stuff comes out, lots of it. You take his shotgun, only two rounds. Kicking through the next door you dispatch of another gangster with a bang. In a rush to collect his dropped weapon you give away your location to another another goon who heard your gunfire. Within a split second you are downed, your entrails splattered all over the floor in the most visceral example of pixelated comic violence. Death is instant. But so is your restart, picking up the level from the start again having learned to be more cautious or simply to act faster.
It is hardcore instant restart gaming in much the same vein as Super Meatboy, Spelunky and Trials Evolution. Restarting levels over and over is addictive and it becomes nigh on impossible to stop playing once you have started. At Eurogamer Expo I actually had to be dragged away from the game as I really didn’t want to stop playing.
Whilst there was a variety of fantastic AAA software on show at EGXP that eclipse the production values and scope of Hotline Miami, there were none that were quite as much fun. Hotline Miami is a wonderful orgy of ultra violence and excessive gore. Here’s hoping for an eventual Xbox Live arcade release after it gains the significant success on it deserves on the Steam platform.