Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number
|Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number|
Cover art of Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number
|Release||Windows, OS X, Linux
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is a top-down shooter video game co-developed by Dennaton Games and Abstraction Games, and published by Devolver Digital. It is both the sequel and prequel to Hotline Miami, taking place before and after the events of Hotline Miami, as it focuses on the backstory and aftermath of the previous protagonist, Jacket, slaying parts of the Russian mafia at the behest of anonymous voices leaving mysterious messages on his answering machine.
The game was first released worldwide for Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux on 10 March 2015. It then saw its release for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita on 10 March 2015 in North America, on 11 March 2015 in Europe, and on 25 June 2015 in Japan. An Android port was released on 4 August 2015.
Gameplay of Wrong Number plays the same to that of its predecessor Hotline Miami. Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number features a new hard mode, unlocked after completing the Normal story. In Hard mode, enemies are more difficult to take down and some abilities are taken away from the player, such as "enemy-locking".
Thirteen characters are playable as opposed to just Jacket and Biker in the first game; each with their own interpretations as the story unfolds. The masks mechanic is again featured with some masks making a return, while new masks offer new abilities and play styles. Each character has their own special abilities or perks; Corey can do a roll and dive under enemy gunfire, Mark can dual wield two sub-machines guns and can spread his arms to shoot left and right simultaneously, Tony's fists kill all regular enemies in one blow and knock down heavy enemies for quick ground kills, and Alex and Ash use a chainsaw and a gun respectively, but are controlled by the player simultaneously. A different character or group of characters is available at the start of each level, each chapter telling part of the story from that character's perspective.
A level editor was added after the game's release, which let users create original stories through dialogue crafting. The editor was originally planned for a spring 2015 release, but was postponed, eventually going live on 22 June 2016.
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number takes place in a heavily anachronic order before and after the events of the original, focusing more on the latter between October and December 1991. During the events of Hotline Miami, the player's character, "Jacket," is unwittingly manipulated into killing off the leadership of the Russian Mob by 50 Blessings, a neo-nationalist terror cell that masquerades as a peaceful activist group. The persona of "Richard", a mysterious figure in a rooster mask that occasionally appeared to Jacket in the original game, appears at different points to the game's playable characters. The player controls these individuals in a series of intersecting plotlines exploring both the background and the aftermath of Jacket's rampage.
After his rampage, Jacket has been arrested and brought to trial. He has gained national notoriety as a result of his macabre and horrific mass murders, committed while wearing rubber animal masks; the game's tutorial level takes place in a slasher film adaptation depicting him as "The Pig Butcher", in which his rescue of a drug-addled sex slave during the first game is re-envisioned as a lurid rape and kidnapping scene. The film's star, Martin Brown, is a sociopathic sadist who relishes at being able to act out his violent fantasies during filming. Martin dies early in the game when accidentally shot with live ammunition on set during the shooting of the film's final scene. A journalist, Evan Wright, is writing a book about Jacket's spree and trying to learn more about the people behind it. Evan is given leads from Manny Pardo, a psychotic police detective who uses his position to go on killing sprees during stakeout operations, justifying them as self-defense.
The Fans, five thrill-seeking killers who are emulating Jacket's spree, carry out a string of murders against petty crooks and drug dealers, unaware of the larger context of Jacket's campaign of violence. Eventually they kill a former henchman of the Russian Mafia, now run by the original boss' son, and when the Son attempts to reconnect with said henchman the Fans follow his call to attack his new hideout. The Fans are all killed during this attack; their last survivor, Tony, is personally killed by Pardo after surrendering to the police, to deny him his "fifteen minutes of fame."
The story of The Soldier, the bearded convenience store owner from the previous game, shows him fighting a war against the Soviet Union in Hawaii alongside Jacket in 1985, prior to the first game's events. America appears to be losing this fictitious war, with cities and islands falling to the Soviet Red Army. The Soldier's elite Commando unit has been engaged in a campaign of deep penetration harassment against Russian fortifications and supply depots, however their increasingly detached and psychologically troubled Colonel appears to be losing his grip on reality as the war proceeds, volunteering them for increasingly desperate and dangerous missions while ruminating on their likely impending deaths and the loss of the war. The Soldier saves Jacket's life during one of their last missions, after a booby trap explodes and severely injures two members of their unit including Jacket, but later dies in 1986 during a nuclear strike on San Francisco which decisively terminates the war, revealing his appearances in the previous game to be Jacket's comatose hallucinations.
The game also follows two other 50 Blessings agents from the original game, Jake and Richter. Jake, a virulently nativist Southern patriot, realizes the officially-peaceful 50 Blessings organization is giving him his orders when he meets with one of their representatives, and praises them. If he avoids the fate depicted in the original game (being captured and murdered by the Russian Mafia during a mission), 50 Blessings takes him to a safehouse but kills him anyway to silence him. Richter, the agent who killed Jacket's girlfriend, is revealed to be reluctant to work with 50 Blessings until they threaten his ailing mother. Like Jacket, Richter is captured and imprisoned, but manages to escape during a prison riot orchestrated by 50 Blessings during which other incarcerated members were to kill him to keep him from corroborating Jacket's testimony.
In 1991, the escaped Richter tells his story to Evan in exchange for plane tickets for his mother to come to Hawaii. Evan's marriage and finances, however, are under pressure as he spends more time working on his book, and the player must choose whether he abandons the book or his family.
The final act of the game is centered on the Son, who is trying to reclaim his father's empire from Colombian gangsters who filled the power vacuum the old boss' death left. Pardo also appears, having a nightmare revealing himself to be the "Miami Mutilator", a serial killer he has supposedly been hunting. Fearful of his colleagues catching on to his crimes, Pardo boards himself up in his house. After the Son eliminates the Colombians, he invites his old henchman to visit their new hideout, inadvertently giving away his location to the Fans and triggering the attack depicted earlier. Under the hallucinatory influence of his own designer drugs he goes on a rampage, killing the superhuman monsters he sees the Fans as, then walking off the hideout's roof on a rainbow bridge to his apparent death.
An epilogue shows Richter, reunited with his mother, hearing on the news that the American and Soviet presidents were both assassinated in an attempted coup d'état, with the prime suspect being an American general. The Soviet Union declares this an act of war, and launches several atomic attacks against the United States which obliterate Miami and Hawaii. Each of the surviving characters are then shown in their last moments - Manny, Evan, the actress from Midnight Animal, and finally Jacket alone in a prison cell - before being obliterated by the bombs. Subsequently, starting a new game adds an extra introductory scene where Richard berates the playable characters for, once again, starting down a path that can only end in their deaths.
Development and release
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Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number was originally made in Game Maker 7, but was ported by Abstraction Games to their intern engine SilverWare, using their Game Maker conversion program GameBaker, to make the game able to run on platforms other than Microsoft Windows. The developers have stated that it is the final game of the series. Swedish painter Niklas Åkerblad created the cover art for Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number. In Japan, the localized editions of Hotline Miami and Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita were bundled together and released as Hotline Miami: Collected Edition on 25 June 2015.
Upon release, the game received generally positive reviews from critics. On Metacritic, it holds an aggregated score of 75/100 based on 18 reviews for the PlayStation 4 Version, one of 74/100 based on 67 reviews for the PC version, and one of 66/100 based on four reviews for the PlayStation Vita version. Danny O'Dwyer from GameSpot gave the game a 9/10, praising its techno and intense soundtrack, entertaining, engaging and challenging gameplay, well-designed controls, striking and vibrant visuals, improved enemy placement, lengthy story, as well as the huge variety of characters, levels and locations. He also praised the game for allowing players to use multiple approaches towards a single objective. However, he criticized the lack of weapon customization. He summarized the game by saying that "This is a confident follow-up which improves upon the original in almost every way. This is a tremendously stylish game which entertains throughout, and delights in forcing you out of your comfort zone.
Chris Carter from Destructoid also awarded the game a 9/10, praising the open-ended gameplay, engrossing story, accessible interface and level-creator, as well as the game for allowing players to utilize creativity and strategy in every level. However, he criticized the poor AI. He summarized the game by saying that "Hotline Miami 2 may not be as "profound" as its predecessor, but it's still a bloody good time." Chloi Rad from IGN gave the game a 8.8/10, praising its high replay value, engaging story, sizable maps, rich characters' backstory, character-specific abilities, the improved lock-on system as well as the level-design, which demands players a new and more cautious approach towards dangers. However, she criticized the occasionally frustrating levels. She summarized the review by saying that "Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is a great game and a worthy sequel. It’s more confident in its style, storytelling ability, and level design than the first game." Alex Carlson from Hardcore Gamer gave the game a 4.5/5, praising its seedy and visceral art design and its improvement on its predecessors gameplay, but criticized its adherence to the established formula. He summed up the review saying "Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is purposely discomforting and hypnotically visceral. It’s one of the best games released so far this year."
Steven Burns from VideoGamer.com gave the game a 7/10, while praising the narrative as well as the brutal violence featured in the game, which he stated "has tread a fine, sophisticated line between titillation, power, and reflection, an integral part of both narrative and mechanics.", he criticized the oversized maps, as well as the game for being overly difficult, frustrating as enemy attack players where they can't be seen from the camera angle. and restrictive as the game enforced players to play a certain way very often. Chris Thursten from PC Gamer gave the game a 57/100, criticizing the meaningless characters, alienating rape scene, rigid playstyle restriction, inconsistent AI, frustrating and unavoidable death as well as technical issues. Yet he still praised the soundtrack, where the "experience is enormously enhanced by their work". He summarized the review by saying that "Restrictive design decisions sap the energy from a series that revels in it, and technical issues deal the killing blow."
Rape depiction controversy
The demo shown at Rezzed and the 2013 Penny Arcade Expo featured gameplay in the tutorial that had players appear to attempt to assault a woman sexually as the Pig Butcher. The player character lowered his pants and straddled the woman before the scene is interrupted by the director of Midnight Animal, revealing the whole sequence to be a film shoot.
Video game journalists, including Cara Ellison of PC Gamer, spoke out against the usage of sexual assault imagery. In response, Dennis Wedin stated that Dennaton cut the scene from the demo, and that they were reconsidering putting the scene into the final game. Wedin also stated that they cut the scene short to show that that type of violence is not what the Hotline Miami series is about.
On 15 January 2015 it was reported that because of the implied rape scene, the game had been refused classification in Australia, which prohibits sale within the country, effectively preventing its wide release there. In an official statement from Devolver Digital and Dennaton Games the creators mentioned that they have added a cut and uncut option for the slasher-flick level. Dennaton also reconfirmed that the context of the scene is important and that they were "concerned and disappointed" by the actions of the Classification Board, stating it stretched the facts in its judgment of the game. The statement concluded with Dennaton confirming that they will not challenge the ruling. Developer Dennaton Games have since suggested that people in Australia interested in the game should pirate it if they are unable to purchase a retail copy.
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