The past 10 days have been good days to be a PC Gamer.
Since July 11th the internet gaming community has been gripped by the yearly Steam Summer Sale, where all sorts of PC games are available at massively reduced prices.
If your PC has enough RAM and a good graphics card and processor, there really are some excellent savings to be made.
A fair chunk of the games are available on other platforms like the Xbox 360 and PS3, so in many cases I already own the likes of Saints Row 3, Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed and GTA IV, but to be able to get them for £5 when they’ll cost at least three times as much on the consoles is a fantastic deal.
Similarly, PC only games like Football Manager 2013 and Civilization V have also come down massively in price too.
But those are just the tip of the iceberg.
Going into the sale, I had designs on getting Risk Factions and a few of the Lego games when they were put in the daily sales, but none of them have so far surfaced.
And yet over the last 10 days I’ve bought 16 games and one DLC package.
The sum total? £61.
That might sound a lot, but that’s the cost of less than two regular games for the Xbox 360, and had I bought them all the week before at full price, I’d have parted with almost £200 more for the privilege.
Now that I’ve got the games though, I don’t want to full into the trap of never playing them and having them classed as being part of the dreaded “backlog”.
So one at a time I’m going through the single player games to see what they have to offer. If I have the time, I’ll aim to review most of them (I don’t think I need to review Sim City 4 or Rollercoaster Tycoon 3, seeing as they are hardly new).
First up is Hotline Miami.
Hotline Miami Review: What Is It?
Heavily influenced by the movie Drive, Hotline Miami is a top down 2d action game in the retro style of old games like the very first GTA games or, going back further, stuff like 1980s arcade game, Ikari Warriors.
To quote from Wikipedia, since the writer on there put it as clearly – if not as concisely – as it could be put.
“Hotline Miami is divided into several chapters, each of which is further broken down into several stages. At the start of each chapter, the unnamed protagonist wakes up in his apartment and listens to cryptic messages on his answering machine. These messages tell him to perform an arbitrary task at a certain location, which in each case is inferred as a metaphor for killing every person at that location, such as giving VIPs of a hotel a ‘great stay’. Prior to commencing a new mission, the player is asked to select an animal mask to wear; each of which provides unique advantages or handicaps. In each stage, the player navigates a building from a top-down perspective, and the goal is almost always to kill every opponent therein. Occasionally the player must also defeat a boss at the end of the chapter or find key items as they explore, but most levels are very straightforward. Some levels will also include hidden masks for the player to find along the way. The player has access to a wide variety of melee, thrown, and ranged weapons, and will need to handle challenges through either stealthy tactics or overwhelming force. The player character is no more resilient than the enemies, however, so any mistake is usually fatal. Enemy AI varies slightly, causing them to occasionally move unpredictably, making it difficult to plan a perfect approach. To make up for this, the game allows the player to restart each stage the moment they die, allowing them to quickly fine-tune their approach over several attempts. The game grades the player’s performance at the end of each chapter based on a number of factors, also granting them points that unlock more weapons, and may also unlock additional masks depending on their score.”
Hotline Miami Review: How Much Did It Cost?
Full price, Hotline Miami costs £6.99, but thanks to the Steam Sale, I got it for £1,74.
Hotline Miami Review: Is It Any Good?
Yes, it’s brilliant.
I’ll be honest; I wasn’t particularly interested in the storylines or cut scenes, and I skipped most of that without bothering to take them in.
But I really didn’t think it added or took away from the strength of the game. When I put on Hotline Miami, I got the gist of what was going on without having to read a long spiel by a guy wearing a chicken mask, because the beauty was in the simplicity.
I had to storm a building and kill all the guards, gangsters and/or police in attendance, and I had to do it as quickly, stealthily and with as much variety as I could to ensure I got the best score possible.
Beyond that the storyline was irrelevant.
What I particularly enjoyed about it was that it was challenging. It wasn’t simply a case of going from A to B without any fuss; to succeed I had to learn from my mistakes and actually take the time to think about my approach to beating the level. I had to map out in my head the order in which I killed people and the weapons I used.
That’s quite unusual in gaming these days where – as I’ve spoken about before – genuine challenge has been replaced with the inevitability of finishing the game without fuss as long as you take the time to do it.
So yeah, I was really impressed with how it played, although if I was to criticise it in any way it would be that occasionally there were glitches in the control scheme where aim would lock off, and also the hospital level was annoying and frustrating.
But those are just minor niggles.
Also, though I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s as amazing as some people suggest, the soundtrack was quite good too.
Hotline Miami Review: Is It Worth Buying?
All told, it took me 7 hours to finish the story on Hotline Miami, though I could go back and play through levels again to improve my score and unlock more secrets.
At £1.74 that is astonishingly good value.
Hell, even at full price that’s still less than £1 for each hour’s worth of entertainment.
Hotline Miami is fun, it looks good in a retro way and it’s cheap enough to buy knowing you’ll definitely get value for money out of it.
Yes, some people will complain about the levels of violence, but being a well balanced human being who isn’t going to go out and kill everyone in a casino or nightclub myself, I don’t think that is of any consequence. And it’s over-the-top, silly violence anyway.
So unless you’re the most fragile of souls, my advice is to buy it, and buy it today considering it’s still on sale.
It’s worth every penny.