GAME REVIEW: Hotline Miami (PS4)

While I don’t often review games here on my blog, it’s safe to say that anytime that I’m not listening to an album or eating my bodyweight in cheese, I’m playing a videogame. As a student though, a poor one at that, games aren’t as easy to come by for me as splashing out £30+ on something that may or may not be good tends to be too risky.

That’s what first drove me to picking up Hotline Miami from the Playstation Network: at £7.99 I’d be an idiot to turn down this bargain, especially for a game that has been praised by multiple gaming outlets since its release. Thankfully, the hype was worth it as Hotline Miami is one of the most enjoyable yet frustrating games I’ve ever played.

Like any good article that is trying to convince you to purchase something, I’ll start off with the strongest point and weirdly enough, it’s one that I’ll have an easy enough time talking about. Yes, the music stealing the show in a video-game may trigger some alarm bells as after all, that tends to be an argument that is used when justifying the existence of Sonic 06.

Just like the game itself, Hotline Miami has a soundtrack very much inspired by 1980’s culture, techno beats and heavy synthesisers a plenty. Some songs feel like they were taken right out of the neo-noir crime film Drive with one track being the spitting image of said film’s best known track Real Hero, melody intact.

While you might say that the music is a complete rip-off, you couldn’t be more wrong as the music perfectly complements the simple to learn but hard to master gameplay. Story-driven this game is not and I’ll avoid mentioning it as 1) spoilers and 2) it’s best to be experienced rather than told. Anyway, back to the gameplay and here we find ourselves with a top down shooter, not in the vain of some of the high octane bullet hell games that appear from Japan.

No, Hotline Miami can be tackled in the same kind of way as last year’s MGS V: you can strategically plan every detail of your plan to eliminate all enemies or you can go in guns blazing, mask firmly on. The aforementioned music is your source of adrenaline here, heavy beats accompanying the satisfying crunch of your fist hitting an enemy’s face.

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It may sound simple but Hotline Miami gets far more frustrating as the game progresses with a one hit kill system working for both you and the enemies which levels the playing field. However, you’ll find yourself throwing your controller on the ground in anger when a lone soldier decides to foil your plan mere seconds before a perfect execution.

Things like conveniently placed machetes and such will give you a bit of an advantage as well as the masks which give certain abilities like the horse one which upgrades your door kicking ability from “sleepy time” to “coma time”. You’ll find yourself playing levels repeatedly not only to beat your previous score but to unlock more masks and weapons to spice up your killing.

While not perfect by any means (average bosses and an out of the blue difficulty spike sour the game), Hotline Miami really is the full package for me: a story that is as enthralling as you want it to be, replay value, addictive gameplay and a vibrant, catchy soundtrack. Don’t be like me and stumble upon this game years after everyone. Get it now.

9/10

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First week with Fallout 4: A Sorta Review

Foolishly enough, I was planning on reviewing Fallout 4 for some point this week. Obviously not the full game but I hoped to have at least finished the main campaign. Over 20 hours in and I’ve not even scraped the surface of Bethesda’s massive and weirdly beautiful post apocalyptic world so instead of trying to give a review that I can’t justify writing without finishing the game, I’m gonna give my opinions in the style of a diary. Though instead of feelings and stories about lassies you find attractive, it’ll be leaning more towards running for your life away from colossal mutant creatures (so not too different from the bullies you faced at school). Without further ado, here we go.

Day 1

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Unashamedly, I spent far too much time customising my character but then again I did the same in Skyrim. While I made my character look dashingly handsome and roguish, a thought popped into my head: does my wife’s appearance permanently have that default look. Sure enough, after a few”enhancements” to her cheeks and lips as well as turning that forehead into a fivehead, I created arguably the most vile looking creature to ever grace the planet. Well, second if you include Donald Trump.

After that came the tutorial itself, where I got to choose my abilities by answering the door and being able to have the robot Codsworth say “Liam” which caused me to shit myself a little bit. To avoid any spoilers (though if you haven’t picked up Fallout 4 yet then I pity you), me and my family, consisting of my aforementioned Donald Trump wife and son Shaun ended up in Vault 111 and unsurprisingly things went to shit. I escaped my underground hell to make my way to the surface and immediately got blinded by the sunset. Wonder if they have any Ibuprofen in the wasteland?

Day 2

Making my way down town, sprinting fast, mutants pass, now I’m crippled. Thankfully this wasn’t my first taste of death as I met Dogmeat just a few minutes earlier, minding his own business before a pack of mutated mole rats attacked. I blame Ron Stoppable.

Dogmeat managed to take on quite a few by himself and the new combat system made easy pickings of the rest with the first person shooting being far more accurate than previous iterations but still strategic enough to not be a direct copy of COD.

“Finally, an AI character who ISN’T a hindrance” I thought to myself. This, of course, was before I faced my first Deathclaw (think the Xenomorphs from Alien but far bigger and nightmare inducing) where, for some reason, Dogmeat blocked me into a corner. Then the Deathclaw made easy work of my jumpsuit and tore me to pieces. Man’s best friend my arse.

Day 3

The thing about Fallout that appeals to me is the world. I can’t think of any other game with the same amount of character than Bethesda’s rendition of a post nuclear America with the mid 1900’s aesthetic abundant wherever you go, giving off a chilling, eerie vibe. As well as this, the world is so full of stuff to do that there’s no way you’ll simply go from point A to point B without stopping by a few dozen places. This is what happened on my way to save a settlement that had been attacked countless times by raiders where I found a lone settler having troubles with this dam looking contraption.At first I thought it would be a simple “find the plugs under water, turn them off” which led me to get radiated to fuck which dramatically reduces your health until you find radaway.2884112-fallout4_e3_cityvista_1434323956

Thinking the end was over, I walked up to the settler to get my reward as he stared blankly into my eyes, showing off how terrible the characters in this game even on the current gen consoles. Oh, and then a mutated pack of crabs called Mirelurks cut my head off. And Dogmeat just stared at my lifeless body. Fuck you Dogmeat.

Day 4

Spent the whole day running away from Dogmeat, hoping he’d realise how raging I was with him. He followed me before I fell off a cliff and crippled my legs, a fall that should have killed me instantly. Think it was the game’s intention as Dogmeat “playfully barked”. Again, fuck you Dogmeat.

Day 5

Fallout 4 not only polishes any gripes that I had with Fallout 3 and New Vegas but it also adds some new mechanics of its own. Settlement building is one of these new gameplay elements where all junk both in your inventory and the surrounding area can be used to make your own town.

Sounds addictive right? You’re not wrong at all, in fact the crafting system in this game is almost as addictive as the quest themselves as I’ve spent more time than I’m proud to admit making a defence tower for Sanctuary. Not only is it fun but it makes my urge to loot and carry everything in sight actually beneficial, making me feel good about my hoarding problem for once. This time Dogmeat didn’t lead to my demise, instead proving useful by finding useful materials and not being a pain in the arse. He’s since been forgiven and a doghouse has been built to repay him for the good deed of not killing me.

Day 6

Need to find materials. Need to add another turret to the tower. Need to craft stronger power armour so I can be the human embodiment of the Batmobile. It’s 2am but I NEED TO DO EVERYTHING.

Day 7

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Fallout 4 has been out for a week now and I still can’t get over how full of things to do it is. I’ve explored a 1/4 of the map and although many people have complained about the size of the world being smaller than other games like Just Cause’s Panama, the level of detail and the amount of fun I’ve had is something that I haven’t experienced since Batman Arkham City. The story is engaging, the gameplay has been vastly improved and although Fallout 4 has adapted to fit into the current standard of games, it never loses any of the series charm. It’s still funny, it’s still horrifying, it’s still jaw droppingly beautiful despite looking like a 360 game.

Fallout 4 might not be the best looking game ever or the biggest. It’s got glitches and bugs. It can be infuriating at times. But it’s Fallout and its charm and quality outweigh any technical problems. Game of the year? It very well could be.

Big love, Liam x

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