The original Hotline Miami casts you as a psychotic hero battling his way through a series of brutal stages, killing enemies while avoiding the game’s one-hit death system. Die and you restart the stage from the beginning. Players who prefer hand-holding need not apply.
Fans of such difficulty will be thrilled with the forthcoming Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, which arrives this Tuesday. The game features a number of new additions to the already proven formula, including a slew of new animal masks that provide different attributes, as well as more enemies to finish off in a bloody, sadistic manner.
Once again, the game relies on a one-hit system, where it's lights out for you, whether you get shot, stabbed or struck with a pointy object. Fortunately, the sequel comes with a number of adjustable difficulty settings, in case some people find the default one too frustrating.
Easy Mode is probably the best bet for beginners, as enemies move slower and don't have nearly as much success killing people. Of course, you'll still have to stay sharp to avoid becoming a blood-stain on the floor, and use whatever weapons you can get your hands on – baseball bats, pipes, guns or otherwise – to stay alive.
Firearms are ideal, but discharging one alerts nearby thugs in the area. Save these for when you have no choice but to use them, preferably when surrounded. In most cases, a good close-range weapon, like a baseball bat or pipe, is good for quietly taking out bad guys and then moving on to the next room.
In addition, Classic Mode brings back the original style of play from the first game, with fast-moving foes and the need to quickly move into cover spots and jump enemies before they finish you off. For those who prefer, there's also an Extreme mode that can be unlocked, only by completing stages with a C+ grade or higher. This provides even faster, stronger foes to bring down, as well as the removal of certain abilities, such as locking onto a nearby opponent to concentrate your attacks.
Fortunately, most enemies can be taken down effectively with a well-timed hit, so you'll want to keep a finger on the attack button so you can sufficiently whack them at just the right moment. Sometimes that won't kill them, though, and that will force you to get up close and pound their heads into the pavement, or strike them again with whatever weapon you're carrying. This is important, because if they get back up they can easily kill you.
Using a dual analog control setup (the left stick for movement, the right stick for precision aiming), Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number works just as well as the prequel, although you'll need to avoid running straight into an ambush. The goal here is to kill each enemy, one at a time and eventually clear the room. If you see a group of guys coming your way, run.
Fortunately, like the first game, there are a number of animal masks that you'll be able to utilize in order to gain abilities that will help you clear stages. These unlock as the game goes on, and you'll be able to select which one you want to use beforehand.
Although Devolver Digital hasn't finalized the list of masks, we expect several favorites to return. First off, wearing the Pig mask (or Aubrey, as it's called in-game) will grant access to more guns, while the Owl mask (Rasmus) will help you spot hidden secrets, including bonus weapons and collectibles.
When you come across new masks, don't be afraid to try them out. The Tiger mask (Tony) doesn't allow you to use any sort of weapons, but his punches are so strong that you will literally take someone’s face off. Yep, just his face. It's a sight to behold – and probably not for the squeamish.
The better scores you get in Hotline Miami 2, the more masks you're able to unlock, so keep at it. In fact, it doesn't hurt to replay stages and shoot for better scores, especially when it comes to the game's online leaderboards. This can require a great deal of patience – especially with Classic or Extreme Modes – but it pays off when you have a room full of dead guys and a higher score to show for it.
Along with the main story mode, Hotline Miami 2 will also come with a new level editor, detailed in the video below. This allows creative minds to put together their own set-ups, including enemy placement, items and more. It will take a while to become familiar with the layouts and available features, but it's time well spent.
While Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number's over-the-top violence isn't for everyone, fans of the original are in for a treat – especially if they love unlocking all the available masks and completing the game at top-tier level in Extreme. With that in mind, the game releases this Tuesday for PC, PlayStation 4 and PS Vita.