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Eurogamer 2013: Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number hands-on

Eurogamer Expo 2013

Awash in vibrant pinks, oranges, greens, purples and all the hues of an ’80s rainbow wrestling with the old Channel 4 logo, Hotline Miami 2 reintroduces us back into the sleazy world of underground pimps, gangsters, lowlifes and animal head wearing psychopaths. The hands-on preview wasted no time in pushing us knee deep into the depravity its world contains. One that simultaneously manages to encourage violence on the one hand, and then demonstrably demonises it on the other.

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“Instantly recognisable brazen colour palette”The demo opened with a scene of aggression that displayed the controls. Following previous concerns about the context of certain mature content that had previously been shown in demonstrations, this was the edited version. It lost no impact for it. Then “cut” is yelled. You’re on a movie set playing out a scene in a horror film.

The scene then jump cut to a random apartment. Sat on the sofa were a collection of nameless gentlemen in animal masks discussing whether tonight’s the night they should do it. The decision is made – we’re doing it.

The ‘it’ is to drive down to a local gangster’s house and murder everyone in sight without question or second thought. The gameplay remains unedited. From a top-down perspective, you must don one of many animal heads that endow separate powers – I went with no weapons but fists of death – and clear each floor of the building in point. The enemies, though here there are no good guys, will try to stop you.

In Sean Kelley’s review of the original Hotline Miami, he said:

In the movies we often hear mobsters or burglars recall when a job “went bad”. The moment they refer to is the single instant they couldn’t anticipate, the moment when their carefully laid out plans were thrown out the window; Hotline Miami captures that moment, that singular feeling better than most games.

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“Pulsating electronic beats and synth”That quickfire discipline is as tightly wound as before. A single bullet or knife strike ends in death. Without a delay or loading screen you respawn back at the entrance. Perhaps that was just an imagining of what would have happened in that run through. The trick comes in clearing said floors in near perfect runs, using doors to stun passers-by and anything usable as a object of violence. It’s fast and furious thanks to the disregard for movement realism in the quest for refined interactive entertainment.

As well as its instantly recognisable brazen colour palette, the hand selected soundtrack has been one of Dennaton Games’ strongest suits. The music for these early levels was belting. Pulsating electronic beats and synth came punching through the headphones. Audio bliss and fitting. No other music would seem right.

As the preview rolled to an end it played its other hand: the testing of our moral standing. Bursting into the final room, the other animal headed acquaintances present from before, the boss we were after was slouched out on a couch. In a delirious haze he began to mumble about how all he wanted was out. Now he just wants to go home to his family.

With a thump one of them smashed him in the face with a wooden plank. He continued to plead to be taken home. The beatings continued and got more vicious, the sound shifting from adrenaline boosting boots to a sordid drone. The energetic fun had become distorted into discomfort and self reflection.

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It’s this ability to contrast powerful emotions within a self contained palette that undoubtedly proves Dennaton Games’ ability as both developer and director. Behind the two preview stations was a presentation backboard. Those that had played were encouraged to write on it with the marker pens left strewn upon the tabletops. One in particular caught my attention: “10/10. Would buy in Steam sale”. A modern tongue-in-cheek congratulations that was ultimately fitting.

The author of this fine article

is the Deputy Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in December 2010. Get in touch on Twitter @shaneryantb.

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