You have a message on your answering machine from Tim at a bakery telling you the cookies you ordered have been delivered. Do you
A) Go to the bakery to collect your cookies. Youve been looking forward to them.
B) Wonder why you have this message. You didnt order any cookies.
C) Head to the nearest train station to take out all the white-suited gangsters you find there, brutally, and with whatever weapons you can put your hands on.
If you answered C) then youre obviously well-versed in the ultra-violent, neon-saturated world of Hotline Miami, a top-down shooter that won rave reviews on its release in 2012 at least, we really hope you are. And, if so, its time to return, as the sequel, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, is here. If youre not well-versed in the original games ways, good luck, because theres no easing in for new players. Youll die a lot on the early levels and then, just to complicate matters, it gets more difficult.
It also serves as both a prequel and a sequel to the first game, fleshing out the backstory while revealing what happens next. That is, if you were actually following the story, as Hotline Miami wasn't exactly big on emotional depth and nuanced characters. But then again, it was the lean, fast-paced gameplay that was by far the star of show as your car dropped you off at whatever location needed clearing out and you, thumping electro driving you forwards, began taking out the equally kill-happy enemies inside.
On the surface then, Wrong Number is much the same. But by the time youre a few levels in, its clear something has changed, and not for the better. The levels are bigger and more open, which slows your progress through them and, as a result, means youre not gleefully racking up combo points, instead forced to be more considered lest an unseen enemy shoots you through glass windows from two rooms away just as you think youve nailed it.
But thats not to say its completely lost its way. The original was a remarkable game that came out of nowhere and while the sequel rarely hits those heights, it presents a worthy challenge, stylishly presented, with a similarly compelling soundtrack. As is the case with so many perfectly serviceable sequels across all forms of entertainment if only it didn't have its much better predecessor to be compared to.