Let’s be clear: I respect a developer that knows when there’s too much of a good thing despite how much their fans might love it. I was pleasantly surprised that Dennaton chose to conclude the Hotline Miami saga with a 2 rather then a 3, 4, or 4.5. My problem is with the game itself.
In terms of the gameplay we all know and love, it’s there…to a degree. Only certain characters can equip a certain mask (For instance, one character has access to three masks that have bonuses like a killer throw, while another character in another chapter will have the ability to equip dual machine guns, but never gets the latter option of a killer throw. EVER.) I think that whole idea sums up how I feel about Hotline Miami II. It’s limited. Gameplay wise everyone’s going to assume it’s the same idea, because on the surface it does look and feel like Hotline Miami. But the biggest issue with the game is with how controlling it is.
Despite the crushing difficulty of the original, the levels felt as if they were playing fair, which kept me from giving up; but it’s predecessor knows no freedom. I’d be perfectly fine with a harder game if it allowed for innovation on the player’s part, but having to consistently follow the same path gets a little mind-numbing at points. There’s very little room to tackle things the way you want too in this game, and that’ can stem from anything extremely limited amount of masks to incredibly linear gameplay, but that flaw doesn’t stop at design.
In terms of story, this is quite possibly one of the worst I’ve seen in a game. It’s very up-front, and doesn’t really pull any punches up until the end, but I’ll get to that in a second. Part of what made the original Hotline Miami so great is that you were never quite sure why you were stabbing, skewering and shooting dozens of Russians. The game made you question your own psychosis by asking you what you really knew and if you were a monster for relishing in bloodshed, and doing so simply because your answering machine told you too. It’s predecessor’s story on the other hand is hard to explain without giving too much away. It chooses to give you very concrete details, but never explains how they all come together. Playing as multiple different characters would be interesting if any of their storylines ever connected, but they don’t. The ending is easily one of the worst I’ve seen in any form of media; the type where in the end, you don’t actually matter.
Oh, and since most will ask, yes the soundtrack is decent, though not nearly as good as the first game.
In conclusion it sounds like I despise Hotline Miami II. While that’s not completely the case, I’m upset that the game chooses to be so controlling, especially since in terms of gameplay, it would be so much more fun if it would choose to open itself up more. If it’s on sale and you’ve got nothing better to do, go ahead and grab it, but for anyone who’s played the first game, prepare for dissapointment.
Overall, it’s about a 4.5/10
+Done right, the combat is brutally satisfying
-Combat is rarely done right, the soundtrack repeats itself, and there’s too little mask options for so many chapters.