28 November, 2012
Hotline Miami is a videogame as much as it is an interpretation of what a fight between the spirit animals of Gaspar Noe and Nicholas Winding-Refn and it plays somewhere between the original Grand Theft Auto, Dead Souls, and maybe a little bit of Condemned thrown in to boot. It's an incredible game at what I'm saying. At ten dollars, it also might be one of the best games I've played in a long time-- at the least it is one of the best values I've had in a long time.
It's simple, it's brutal, it's quick and to the point and it's this boiled down intensity that makes it work and it is what makes it work despite being a game that is built entirely around trial and error. Having sweated my ass off trying to figure out algebra for much of my youth I realize just how terrible trial and error can be, so it's amazing that this game is as fun and as addicting as it is. It also manages to give you a feeling like you've actually got the game beat and not just that you played until the end.
The aesthetics remind me of being somewhere between this washed out faux-VHS look that we've been seeing lately (I'll blame Drive, it's also made its way into things as varied as Max Payne 3 and this interview with Emma Stone in Interview magazine) if it was filtered through the kinds of custom made playsets we all used to make with Legos. It's looks have been mentioned in every single little review I've seen of it, but it's something worth agreeing with, because it is the core to understanding this game. It's hard to say it without both sounding and feeling like a pretentious asshole, but the visuals of Hotline Miami are the game.
There is nothing superfluous to it and it's this strict aesthetic style that makes something as simple as a smoking cigarette or a pool or blood or a hot-wired door frame seem so cool. The look is as stripped down and no nonsense as the game play. If you want to rap about game play not jibbing with the rest of the world, Hotline Miami is not that game. The only thing that thing resembling gilding is the soundtrack and that is as integral to the tone of the game as the spurts of blood and globs of brain flying everywhere-- but that's what I mean by nothing being pointless.
Hotline Miami is a game that seems to achieve everything it set out to do. From the through back visuals to the wonderful soundtrack to the gameplay, it is a game that wastes very little effort, even though it must have taken quite a bit to make something as well formed as this is.I really, really like it.