Hotline Miami's Got My Number
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is right around the corner and I can’t wait! But that’s not what I want to talk about at the moment. The first Hotline Miami is one of the most intense, addictive, and effed up games I have ever played and it came out of nowhere. When Hotline Miami hit the Vita, I picked it up based on the chatter I had heard when it first released to the Master Race(PC). At first, it didn’t appeal to me, being a top-down arcade style shooter that at first glance looked like a shitty old GTA (Quick FYI, I loved GTA so much that I played it on a crusty old IBM for hundreds of hours), so it just sat on my Vita untouched for weeks. One day, in a moment of boredom, I pulled my head out of my ass and tapped that stupid little bubble. I have never regretted that decision.
Hotline Miami has the simplest yet most complicated storyline since George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (If you have to google that reference, that means you only watch TV and don't read books. Shame on you). You can play through the whole game and not really notice how morose you are meant to feel or what those who have already played it have been talking about. The first thing I noticed was how atmospheric this game is; it is vibrant, moody, and oddly tranquil as you go through the opening cut scenes. The surprisingly detailed 80’s arcade style graphics provide the characters and game-world with a cool laid back feel that is reminiscent of the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies, cartoons, and games.
You play as an un-named protagonist commonly referred to as “Jacket,” very reminiscent of the title character from the movie Drive which seems to inspire much of this world. Jacket wears masks to conceal his identity as a hired assassin and you gain new masks as you progress, each mask having different perks. The game opens with Jacket already in a coma, and takes place in-between the real world and a coma world inside Jackets mind that adds a Fight Club-esque schizophrenia to Jacket's behavior and personality. The timeline and Real/Coma worlds jump around and are a little hard to follow even though you are given dates at the beginning of each sequence.
Most of the sequences begin in Jacket’s apartment with a message on the machine from “50 Blessings” the murder-for-hire organization Jacket apparently has just joined. You receive your tasks and ask no questions, not that the murders don’t have an effect on Jacket, his responses to killing range from vomiting, to excitement, to a mental break down ending in a coma. After most of his murders, Jacket drives his bad-ass DeLorean (Marty McFly status) to a public place like a convenience store, video store, or bar where he talks to his friend Richter. Richter plays a more important role in the game than first he appears, but I won’t get into the details, like I said this shit gets complicated. Jacket also saves a hooker in one sequence and she becomes his girlfriend. “Hooker” becomes a regular set piece in your apartment and an incident with her fuels much of the games arc. After some time playing as Jacket you receive an assignment different from the others; you are set to kill a man who is trying to stop 50 Blessings from continuing operations, a man in a blue motorcycle helmet commonly referred to as “Helmet.” It is at this point that Jacket wakes from his coma and passes the story to another character.
Enter Helmet, our new protagonist and a damn good one at that. Helmet is freakin’ rad and kills with ease. Helmet has also been getting these messages but isn’t so quick to obey. He has questions and the game provides little answers, jumping from Helmet to Jacket. As the game comes to a close you are left filled with questions and intrigue, wanting more.
If you haven’t played Hotline Miami, play that shit! And if you have played it, play it again ya friggin' idiot! You’re not an idiot, but hey... it’s in the spirit of the game to be insulting. Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is set for a summer 2014 release (aka any day now). It will be on the Playstation 3, Playstation Vita and PC.