Review: Hotline Miami brings its neon decadence to PSN

When Hotline Miami launched for the PC last year, it quickly garnered critical acclaim for its challenging action-stealth gameplay, richly colored pixelated art style, and magnificent soundtrack. The game was a true spectacle, mixing a bunch of outstanding elements together to create a wonderful package of delightfully disturbing themes and brutally violent imagery. Despite its reliance on abstract pixel art, the intentions and gore of Hotline Miami stood out quite easily. Now the game is available on the PlayStation Network, and it's still as amazingly hypnotic as it was when it first arrived on the scene.

You take on the role of a mysterious cold-blooded character. In essence, the fact that you don't know much about this silent protagonist only helps to further put you in his shoes. Throughout the course of Hotline Miami, the main character seems to struggle with his own identity, and the characters he encounters are just as riddled in mystery as he is. You see a transformation as the story unfolds. Your character goes from puking after killing several people for the first time to simply doing it with no remorse. The insane thing is that the same happens to you as the player. At first, you may feel that the game is boldly violent and appropriately twisted, but you then find out that you just want more carnage the deeper you go.

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The wonderful thing about Hotline Miami is that it takes you back to basics. Right from the get-go you learn that there are multiple ways to kill your enemies. It's up to you, however, to decide how to do it. There are a lot of micro-mechanics for you to wrap your head around, and deciding which route you want to take as you become a cold-blooded killer is entirely up to you.

Hotline Miami is seen through a top-down view, so you can spot enemies within a certain distance and plan out your rampage accordingly. Every chapter takes place within the confines of a different building, and you have to exploit your surroundings to successfully move on. Your fists, blunt objects, sharp blades, and deadly guns all come in handy, but it's the environment that must be used as your ultimate weapon. If an enemy is standing behind a door, barge right through and knock that fool down. If bad guys await you behind glass walls, sneak around and quickly fire a few rounds at them, then retreat to avoid their gunfire. Hotline Miami is all about picking your spots.

Still, that's not to say that you're deprived of making your own decisions. There are multiple ways to dispose of your foes, and figuring out your personal best strategy is half the fun. You can enter a room guns a-blazin' and pick some jerks off at the same time, or you can lure enemies toward you and take them out one by one. Are there dogs walking around? Well, how about you slice one of those little mutts first then focus on your armed aggressors? Whether you're going with stealth or hard-boiled action, guns or bats, deadly silence or obvious pursuit, the method of your success in Hotline Miami is your call.

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It should be noted that this is not an easy game. Expect to die. A lot. Thankfully, each time you die, you learn what not to do. Usually, if a certain strategy didn't work the first time around, it's not going to work at all if you try again. Hotline Miami makes you think up different ways to approach every group of enemies, every loner, and every crazy strong fat dude. It's easy to get frustrated if you continue trying the same things over and over again. But those moments when you think up different strategies and force yourself to utilize different weapons or various parts of the environment are some of the most cathartic instances in Hotline Miami, and finally achieving victory is truly satisfying.

The art direction in this violent romp is stylishly incredible. Despite the old school influence, there's color splashed literally everywhere, which isn't something that was possible on the old 8-bit and 16-bit machines. Hotline Miami takes place in 1989, and the art reflects that. The neon flair and vibrant hues are truly a brilliant sight to behold.

Accompanying the sick murder and stellar graphics is a strong soundtrack that enhances the overall experience. Music is fast-paced and keeps you engaged in all of the mass murder that's going on. The different themes you listen to throughout are just as much a part of Hotline Miami as the gameplay. You immediately get a sense of what to expect when you first load up the game and hear the awesome “Horse Steppin'” by Sun Araw. It's a badass song that paves the way for the rest of the game.

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You can snag Hotline Miami on the PlayStation Network as a Cross-Buy and Cross Play title, and you really can't go wrong with playing on either of Sony's current platforms. If you want to see the game's candy-colored world on your big screen TV, by all means, go ahead and do so, because it looks great. The PlayStation 3 controller is also a good fit. If you'd rather witness all of the neon wonder on your Vita, that's a hell of an option, too.

You can get through Hotline Miami in just about four hours. If you already played the game on the PC and don't want to purchase it again, the PlayStation Network version is clearly not for you. But if you want to take the game on the go or use a PlayStation 3 controller, it goes without saying that this is a no-brainer. Additionally, if you missed this sweet action title the first time around, you really need to just jump right in and enjoy it to the fullest. Hotline Miami on the PlayStation Network is a game that needs to be played and adored, and it's so deliciously disturbed, aesthetically pleasing, and downright stylish that it'll make you love it.

[Reviewed on PlayStation 3]

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