Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number - Needs More *69

Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number - Needs More *69

Hotline Miami 2 expands on the original's formula in creative ways that, sadly, fall painfully flat.

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A good comparison is the difference between The Raid and The Raid 2.

First one was concise and good for what it was, but the second had a greater emphasis on story which sometimes detracted a little bit from the action and at other times too much. The fight scenes were more inventive however, and the doldrums served to further enhance the visceral appeal of hand-to-hand combat.

Though I will say that I see both as equally good games. This one does turn up the violence, but I'd say that it's in line with the first game. Miami 1 explored the idea of violence in games: "do you like hurting other people?" and Miami 2 now goes further saying, "what kind of person does enjoy hurting other people?", with the story running the gamut of individuals who kill for profit, for politics, for misguided justice, for a 'greater calling' or for pleasure. I feel like the sexual violence scene in particular colours that first character in a similar way to Jacket: someone utterly deranged who enjoys causing suffering under the cling film disguise of "it's just a movie", effectively setting the stage for the rest of the plot.

Speaking as someone who also recently replayed the original game, I'd say that the mechanics have been changed to some extent, tweaked if you will. Combat feels heavier, especially when you have to aim, and it is more difficult than the original. The pace is sometimes more laborious, but it still allows for a sense of satisfaction, albeit a slightly different one to that of the first, which was closer to a quick adrenaline rush. I feel that a lot of the criticisms that say that the new masks are restrictive are a bit undeserving, as they are how the game continually challenges you without completely crippling you with swarms of enemies. They're more focal, and when you end up in that situation where you use a gun and a knife, you already come with the knowledge of which enemies can only be taken down from gunfire.

It smacks a little bit of picking apart the difficulty curve, since the levels themselves are designed around the abilities you are expected to have. When you, for instance, unlock the sniper rifle, the level becomes more spacious and hinges more on precision rather than timing. When you play as characters with the dodge roll, the game places you in unavoidable lines of fire so that you have to use the ability and not just have it as a tacked-on accessory like in the first game. I think that the masks are tighter here, whereas the first tended to broaden things a bit too much with its mask bonuses.

Overall, I found the game frustrating at times, to be sure, but it forced me instead to nut up and nail the rhythm instead of just giving up like the boss fights in the first game. Your character can sustain slightly more damage, and with the tweaks to the combat, there seems to be slightly more wiggle room in any given approach. The levels are well-balanced between a preferrence on twitch reflex and strategic foresight, but never leaning too heavily on one or the other. I will agree with the criticism that the way the game shifts between either end of the spectrum can be a bit tiresome, but that's more of a pacing and variety problem. The game drags on for a little bit towards the end, but the additional layers of paint on the story don't present themselves as unnecessary additions as much as ways to end the respective subplots.

In many ways, Hotline Miami 2 is like Pulp Fiction: an insight into another world with a selection of self-contained stories sustained by ultra violence, all of which end at least a little bit strangely, but in a way that is in accordance with the deranged universe in which they took place.

"A controversial scene of suggested rape, for instance, brings next to nothing to the story save for some shock value and pixelated pair of butt cheeks. It honestly could have been removed or altered and the story overall would have been identical."

Urrrrghhhhh. Stop putting the onus on developers to justify creating content for a game. They don't *need* any reason to put in anything they want to put in other than 'We wanted to put it in'. That's it.

Chriss_m:
"A controversial scene of suggested rape, for instance, brings next to nothing to the story save for some shock value and pixelated pair of butt cheeks. It honestly could have been removed or altered and the story overall would have been identical."

Urrrrghhhhh. Stop putting the onus on developers to justify creating content for a game. They don't *need* any reason to put in anything they want to put in other than 'We wanted to put it in'. That's it.

The creators can't be asked to explain the reasoning behind their work?
That's odd. :/

Eh, I agree with TB that they did fine enough by adding in an option to have those bits removed. People want the rest of the game without that, then they got the option. So good on them.

Shame ya still can't get the game in Australia (reasonably at least), but Devs said fans there have their permission to pirate it, so that was nice of them too. :)

xD Kind of odd such a bunch of reasonable people made such a violent game. Perhaps that's how they vent? <.<

Also, got to agree that the sound track is VERY good. :)

Imp Emissary:

Chriss_m:
"A controversial scene of suggested rape, for instance, brings next to nothing to the story save for some shock value and pixelated pair of butt cheeks. It honestly could have been removed or altered and the story overall would have been identical."

Urrrrghhhhh. Stop putting the onus on developers to justify creating content for a game. They don't *need* any reason to put in anything they want to put in other than 'We wanted to put it in'. That's it.

The creators can't be asked to explain the reasoning behind their work?
That's odd. :/

Eh, I agree with TB that they did fine enough by adding in an option to have those bits removed. People want the rest of the game without that, then they got the option. So good on them.

Shame ya still can't get the game in Australia (reasonably at least), but Devs said fans there have their permission to pirate it, so that was nice of them too. :)

xD Kind of odd such a bunch of reasonable people made such a violent game. Perhaps that's how they vent? <.<

Also, got to agree that the sound track is VERY good. :)

That's not what I said. I said the onus isn't on them to justify the content. They can put it in for whatever reason they please - so, in other words, bemoaning the game for allegedly having a rape scene in for shock factor is insipid. The controversial criticism of suggested rape, really, brings next to nothing to the review save for some censure and policing of art. It honestly could have been removed or altered and the review overall would have been identical.

Chriss_m:

Imp Emissary:

Chriss_m:

That's not what I said. I said the onus isn't on them to justify the content. They can put it in for whatever reason they please - so, in other words, bemoaning the game for allegedly having a rape scene in for shock factor is insipid. The controversial criticism of suggested rape, really, brings next to nothing to the review save for some censure and policing of art. It honestly could have been removed or altered and the review overall would have been identical.

Hehehe. xD

Honestly, that's about as valid as it was in the review.

If the reviewer thinks the bit is pointless beyond shock value, then that's a valid complaint. Just as valid as you believing that the shock value, or simply wanting it in there is reason enough for it to be included.

Imp Emissary:

Chriss_m:

Imp Emissary:

That's not what I said. I said the onus isn't on them to justify the content. They can put it in for whatever reason they please - so, in other words, bemoaning the game for allegedly having a rape scene in for shock factor is insipid. The controversial criticism of suggested rape, really, brings next to nothing to the review save for some censure and policing of art. It honestly could have been removed or altered and the review overall would have been identical.

Hehehe. xD

Honestly, that's about as valid as it was in the review.

Here's the problem with that: we can't both be equally valid. Mine's is an attack upon what he's actually written, his is an attack on the game. If we're both equally valid, your whole comment cancels itself out. If I was suggesting he shouldn't be able to write what he wrote, the argument you go on to make would be sensible, but that's not what I argue. I simply argue that, based on what I've formerly pointed out, the review is rubbish.

I heard a lot about the first installment but held off from buying it at the time. After reading this review, I think I'm just going to go with the original. Is there a compelling reason to want to play it on PC over console?

Chriss_m:

Imp Emissary:

Chriss_m:

That's not what I said. I said the onus isn't on them to justify the content. They can put it in for whatever reason they please - so, in other words, bemoaning the game for allegedly having a rape scene in for shock factor is insipid. The controversial criticism of suggested rape, really, brings next to nothing to the review save for some censure and policing of art. It honestly could have been removed or altered and the review overall would have been identical.

Hehehe. xD

Honestly, that's about as valid as it was in the review.

Here's the problem with that: we can't both be equally valid. Mine's is an attack upon what he's actually written, his is an attack on the game. If we're both equally valid, your whole comment cancels itself out. If I was suggesting he shouldn't be able to write what he wrote, the argument you go on to make would be sensible, but that's not what I argue. I simply argue that, based on what I've formerly pointed out, the review is rubbish.

What? That's just silly.

You didn't "attack" the review, and Stew didn't attack the game.

Stew said it wouldn't matter if some bits of the story were cut from the game. And you complained about Stew wanting the devs to "justify the content".

I'd hardly call either an attack. Their just opinions. Neither of you said they (the devs and reviewers) can't put this or that in. You both suggested that the things you were talking about (the game and the review) would be better (or at least not hurt by) removing something you didn't like about it.

That's just criticism. Nothing inherently wrong with that.

The game is about mass murder and allows you to chainsaw guys in half, crush skulls, gouge out eyes, and tear off heads, yet acting in a movie scene that almost includes rape is where it crossed the line?

Imp Emissary:

Chriss_m:

Imp Emissary:

Hehehe. xD

Honestly, that's about as valid as it was in the review.

Here's the problem with that: we can't both be equally valid. Mine's is an attack upon what he's actually written, his is an attack on the game. If we're both equally valid, your whole comment cancels itself out. If I was suggesting he shouldn't be able to write what he wrote, the argument you go on to make would be sensible, but that's not what I argue. I simply argue that, based on what I've formerly pointed out, the review is rubbish.

What? That's just silly.

You didn't "attack" the review, and Stew didn't attack the game.

Stew said it wouldn't matter if some bits of the story were cut from the game. And you complained about Stew wanting the devs to "justify the content".

I'd hardly call either an attack. Their just opinions. Neither of you said they (the devs and reviewers) can't put this or that in. You both suggested that the things you were talking about (the game and the review) would be better (or at least not hurt by) removing something you didn't like about it.

That's just criticism. Nothing inherently wrong with that.

I wish I hadn't used the word attack! It seems to have stolen your focus. I didn't say attack to suggest some sort of illegitimate, personal slight. I just used it as a synonym for criticise.

The substantive point I was making was that it's no good reviewer's place to be telling developers there's somehow something wrong with allegedly putting in a near rape scene for shock value. And if a reviewer is going to take that very tenuous path, a sentence of condemnation simply doesn't cut it. That's an apriorism. He needs to explain why there's something wrong with it and *justify* his criticism. He doesn't do that. He simply implies that this is bad. That isn't good writing, put simply. To take it to the absurd, it'd be like his whole review being like 'I didn't like the story or the music because it was bad. Thanks for reading.'

Chriss_m:
He needs to explain why there's something wrong with it and *justify* his criticism. He doesn't do that. He simply implies that this is bad.

It didn't add anything and felt shoehorned in for the sake of controversy, making it feel cheap instead of using it in any way that would've been compelling. That is a pretty valid criticism from a pure opinion standpoint. I don't see how any more onus is on him. I'm an artist, I create things. If somebody says I did something cheaply and without driving the point home that I presumably wanted to, then I want to know that. I don't have to listen to or agree with them, but I also don't want anybody telling critics that they're not allowed to say that. Because they're critics. That's kind of what they do.

Norithics:

Chriss_m:
He needs to explain why there's something wrong with it and *justify* his criticism. He doesn't do that. He simply implies that this is bad.

It didn't add anything and felt shoehorned in for the sake of controversy, making it feel cheap instead of using it in any way that would've been compelling. That is a pretty valid criticism from a pure opinion standpoint. I don't see how any more onus is on him. I'm an artist, I create things. If somebody says I did something cheaply and without driving the point home that I presumably wanted to, then I want to know that. I don't have to listen to or agree with them, but I also don't want anybody telling critics that they're not allowed to say that. Because they're critics. That's kind of what they do.

I genuinely don't mean to condescend, but I wish you had read the conversation more closely. We were both very clear that nobody is telling anybody they can't do anything. My criticism was of his apriorism, of his writing. If one is going to object to content, one must make the case. This surely isn't controversial. He asserts that this scene is added purely for shock value. I don't know if this is the case, because I haven't played the game, but I'll take him at his word. If this scene has been added for shock value, then in that very sentence, he's also explaining why it's been added in. Apparently... For shock value. Now, if he finds rape being added for shock value objectionable, then he must make that case. Otherwise his criticism is nothing more than 'I don't like that'. And I think we'll all agree that's not a very compelling or constructive argument, yes?

I felt the need to log in after what is at this point maybe a year of inactivity to say...

I agree largely but don't think those criticisms affect the game to the extent that they deserved a possible recommendation of skipping the game. The mask system was a beautiful way to vary gameplay and it's sad that it went. Some of the arcs were reasonably unnecessary. The missions I thought seemed to be more long-range too, which annoyed me - I had to make use of the horrible shift look and got shot from off-screen a lot. I didn't particularly enjoy the military missions. But I still had a LOT of fun and it is still well worth playing, and if you can get your head around what the various characters are it shows a lot of narrative creativity.

Basically, review is on-point but still highly recommend.

And the rape scene is not only arbitrary to the plot, but not graphic in the slightest, perfectly un-shockworthy in the context of the game, and nothing that should have sparked a controversy.

Imp Emissary:

xD Kind of odd such a bunch of reasonable people made such a violent game. Perhaps that's how they vent? <.<

I'd say yeah. Being able to freely explore the more horrible aspects of the human condition such as violence and paranoia requires a good amount of oversight and consideration. I imagine that people who make such content whilst still understanding that you should tether the player/reader/moviegoer to morality(in the game, it's the omnipresent "do you like hurting other people?" and The Writer) are reasonable, since this isn't a topic they just gleefully dived into with a cavalier, 'what if?' attitude. It requires effort, perspective, and a good amount of courage to pull it off.

Contrast it with say, Medal of Honour: Warfighter and you see the difference. That game is built on 'what if' moments of mass destruction, showing that the writers didn't consider that you are playing as a white US marine committing genocide in a non-specific middle-eastern country under the guise of "duty" and "honour".

The absolute nadir of this mentality is Call of Juarez The Cartel, where you get achievements for killing black guys and where the main characters abuse sex trade workers as "part of the job".

In my experience, it's those who are more exposed to ideas surrounding violence, particularly the extreme sides of things that can effectively pull off grimy scenarios with care, like in Hotline Miami. You have to be reasonable to even make something like that, else the game would've been shafted for being absolutely repugnant.

Chriss_m:
Now, if he finds rape being added for shock value objectionable, then he must make that case.

Okay lemme... deconstruct this.
'Just for shock value' is not a judgement on controversy, it's an accusation of insincerity. He's not saying that they put it in there because they wanted it to be that way and that was their vision, he's saying it was a hollow gesture to be more edgy than other games, because obviously there was no follow through in the story to elaborate on it.

If you're going to go with "Shock of War" style narratives you need to show how broken the people are by the thing that affects them or it's not just controversial, it's a completely wasted opportunity because the audience can't get the proper connection to it. Murder is centered on the killer and who that death affected, but because rape is so absolutely personal, you can't write it the same way or it completely robs the story of the actual intended horror... which reflects on the creators as being too inexperienced or immature to handle the subject matter in a way that actually means anything.

THAT is the objection here and largely en masse.

Just finished it myself a few hours ago and have mixed feelings toward it. Some areas are definitely too big making you lose lot of progress if you slip up just before the next checkpoint. The game also has a few bugs/issues that irked me such as the finicky targeting system that works when it feels like it, getting hung up on walls and furniture, having to replay a level three times entirely because a critical item dropped into a wall at the end and couldn't be picked up, and random enemy detection where sometimes firing a shot attracts whole rooms one time and the next you can shoot the guy right next to them and they don't even notice. Didn't help that your character always seems to pick up every weapon other weapon in a pile before the one I actually wanted, or the countless times I got shot by an enemy off screen or through a small gap, or just the fact that every enemy is a crack shot in general and rarely miss. Still I did enjoy the style, music, etc. and finally getting through a mission after countless deaths did feel pretty good. The game can be a real rat bastard and sometimes feel unfair, but I feel I got my moneys worth so I can't really complain too much.

i thought it was great myself, story is an odd one but really who cares? im here for the gameplay which leads me onto my complaint in your opinion piece

"Other mask-less characters come with similarly frustrating problems that just break all logic. Why wouldn't you swap guns or pick up ammo when you're in a building full of enemies? Because the game says you can only use one gun, that's why."

yeah gameplay does trump logic has done since games were created , why dont space invaders just go straight down the screen?

and ill agree shooting with the chainsaws buddy is harder , but also they tend to only shoot at the chainsaw guy so you can turn that annoyance into a benefit.

the one gripe i had was the issue with north-south long corridors you can get shot by off screen enemies at times.

story i really dont need but i did like the wrong footing they did, not wanting to spoil but they set things up to appear as one thing then the reveal alters the perception leading to an interesting contrast as to how extreme violence can be perceived.

loved the way the mask/character system totally changes gameplay gives it a ton of replay and different approaches imo.

a great successor that built on teh first one and a must have for me

StreamerDarkly:
Is there a compelling reason to want to play it on PC over console?

It plays so much better with a Mouse and Keyboard. I know a lot of 'PC mastur race hurrr' types say that about every game, but in this case it's definitely true.

Chriss_m:
"A controversial scene of suggested rape, for instance, brings next to nothing to the story save for some shock value and pixelated pair of butt cheeks. It honestly could have been removed or altered and the story overall would have been identical."

Urrrrghhhhh. Stop putting the onus on developers to justify creating content for a game. They don't *need* any reason to put in anything they want to put in other than 'We wanted to put it in'. That's it.

He didn't say they needed a reason. He just said they did it poorly.

Everyone has a right to publish the art they want. That doesn't automatically make it good. I like the game but I'm about 75% of the way through it and, yeah, overall that scene contributed nothing. And with the way it was marketed as being key, despite having little impact, I feel like it was controversy bait.

OT: Yeah the game is good, but not quite as good as the first. The soldier levels are particularly irksome and I'm currently stuck on a level where there are just way too many fucking guys. Seriously, a room with four guys, all of them have guns, and each one is aiming at one of the doors. Not to mention there are levels where you can die in two seconds from the very start because you spawn with someone right in front of you.

I think that it's as good the original, although I agree that it can be more so frustrating than feeling like you were developing at times, so maybe a little bit worse because of that. The music is amazing though, and it really felt like part of the game rather than just another soundtrack. I definitely appreciate the larger variety of characters and scenarios that you play in during the game, it adds some spice to the normal grab mask and shoot stuff routine. The added story is also nice, so it's not just level to level with a couple cutscenes and grabbing stuff from a guy in between, albeit hard to follow. Kinda on the wall about if it's better or not, more gameplay will probably help figuring that out.

Say, a question about this game.

Does it run better on AMD hardware compared to the first game? Can't play the first one without running into a BSOD, which I figured out that it had to to with incompatibilty with the hardware.

Norithics:

Chriss_m:
Now, if he finds rape being added for shock value objectionable, then he must make that case.

Okay lemme... deconstruct this.
'Just for shock value' is not a judgement on controversy, it's an accusation of insincerity. He's not saying that they put it in there because they wanted it to be that way and that was their vision, he's saying it was a hollow gesture to be more edgy than other games, because obviously there was no follow through in the story to elaborate on it.

If you're going to go with "Shock of War" style narratives you need to show how broken the people are by the thing that affects them or it's not just controversial, it's a completely wasted opportunity because the audience can't get the proper connection to it. Murder is centered on the killer and who that death affected, but because rape is so absolutely personal, you can't write it the same way or it completely robs the story of the actual intended horror... which reflects on the creators as being too inexperienced or immature to handle the subject matter in a way that actually means anything.

THAT is the objection here and largely en masse.

I don't want to drag this on, but you've made some valid points here, so out of courtesy I'll address them. But I think I'll make this my last post. You can have the last word, if you wish.

It's an accusation of insincerity only if the creator has the intention of substantiating the scene. If it's merely there for shock value, it's no more insincere than a jump scare in a horror movie. Because rape is shocking - it adds horror, tension, and darkens the tone. All perfectly valid reasons to add such a scene.

You talk of a wasted opportunity, because the rape doesn't become the centerpiece of the story. But that's nonsensical (in the kindest way possible), and brings me back to this point of justification. It's their story, they decide what the focus is. You may indeed have wanted rape, and the victim, and the attackers become what the story was about, but they didn't, and that's okay. It's like arguing that you need to learn about the family, friends, values, of every person killed in the game, otherwise the murder of each random character is a wasted opportunity, and not really necessary to the game.

Again, if the writer of the review felt that the scene shouldn't have been included just for the sake of schock value (as he says), he must explain why it's wrong for the scene to be included for that purpose. Does it not shock? Is it not horrible? Does it fail in their intentions?

Chriss_m:
It's an accusation of insincerity only if the creator has the intention of substantiating the scene.

... I don't... really even know what direction to take this. How insulting would it be to just assume that all creators are incompetent boobs who can't handle the subject matter they're showing us? Like at this point I would think that pretty much everybody is trying to be taken seriously, and if not, then they would clearly make overtures to this.

Does it not shock?

No, it doesn't.
It's gross, it's like seeing a kid show you their pre-chewed lunch, but to call it shocking is to imbue it with an implication of competence that isn't there. That's what's being said here- it's there to be OMGWOWTHISTHING and then it just isn't. It's like a teenager wrote "and then there was a girl who totally got raped and stuff!!1" It doesn't make you think "Oh wow that sucks for that person!" it makes you think "Oh wow that was poorly done. I've been taken out of the experience."

Also it doesn't have to be centrally about them, you could handle it well with decent dialogue. But again, not holding my breath here. :V

Chriss_m:
"A controversial scene of suggested rape, for instance, brings next to nothing to the story save for some shock value and pixelated pair of butt cheeks. It honestly could have been removed or altered and the story overall would have been identical."

Urrrrghhhhh. Stop putting the onus on developers to justify creating content for a game. They don't *need* any reason to put in anything they want to put in other than 'We wanted to put it in'. That's it.

I disagree. I'll try to keep this spoiler free and I haven't yet finished the game, but from what I have played so far, the girl who is raped in question re appears later on and lets just say does a thing. At first I thought it was shoe in but I kept playing to see if there was any relevance later on and I think there is.

 

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