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Dec 2, 2014

Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number Preview

Hotline Miami 2: Wrong number follows the escalating level of violence through multiple factions born from the events of the original game
CONCEPT: As with its predecessor, Hotline Miami 2 is a top-down shooter with the emphasis on fast, difficult and quick levels and a dark Eighties vibe

Dialling up the violence to eleven

Why do you call it a sequel when it's pretty much the same? Do you ask Activision that too? EA, Ubisoft?" In a sweaty corner of last year's Gamescom -and good god we really hope they draft in air conditioning units this year - Devolver Digital's booth stood out from the rest. Not just because of the nuclear-coloured hyperviolence of Hotline Miami2 but because Dennaton Games scrawled a list of banned questions on one of the nearby columns. The 'Why do you call it a sequel?' question was at the top, indicative of the similarities between original and successor that had clearly been brought up ad nauseam. (Also listed: Do you like hurting people? Why is it in pixel graphics?).

And here's the thing about Hotline Miami 2-it is pretty much the same and that's why we're excited. Hotline Miami was a high-score chase that saw you clearing rooms of bad guys, the bigger points awards dished out for combos and creative kills. Yet while the solid mechanics, crushing difficulty and quick-fire restarts made it an addictive endeavour, it was the way the game was presented that really helped it stand out and that same vibe is present in Hotline Miami 2. The soundtrack is superb, as yet another selection of dark eighties synth provides the soundtrack for Digital Devolver's gratuitous violence, accentuated by the bright pixel graphics.

The main gameplay changes are found with the new masks, which have a more profound effect on the gameplay than the original. One mask is Alex and Ash. This sees your character armed with a chainsaw and a character 'following' armed with a gun. You can't swap weapons, with pick-ups serving to refill ammo for the gun - the dual weapons open new combo possibilities the other masks don't allow.

The Corey mask gives the player a new roll move, which means you can dodge under bullets if you time it correctly. In theory, this opens up opportunity to rush goons brandishing guns as you can dodge past their gunfire, which in turn opens up new combo potential. It'll be interesting to see if there are other practical applications for the roll move. Mark is another new mask. This bear mask gives you twin SMGs that can't be dropped. Button combinations allow you to sweep the SMGs in an arc, so you can clear rooms of enemies quickly and efficiently.

Perhaps most interesting is that one of the features of hard mode is that it disables enemy-locking, a mechanic that ultimately sapped some of the difficulty from Hotline Miami. So it'll be every bit as difficult and every bit as fun - everything a sequel should be.

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