I normally qualify a great action game by talking about how precise, balanced, and fined tuned the combat is. Hotline Miami is a rare gem that transcends that qualification by having an intriguing story and, most notably, audio and art direction that creates a great sense of style.
The thumping soundtrack, one of the best of any game I’ve played this year, blends chiptunes, disco, and modern electro touches into a fitting overlay for the high contrast, coked out ’80s art direction. Couple that invigorating atmosphere with the mind-trip dream sequences in between missions, and you’ll be tempted to knock down the nearest door and wreak havoc using the precise controls. But be warned. Once you open a door, get spotted by an enemy, or fire a weapon, enemies come running with merciless abandon and precision; you have to have a plan, fast reflexes, or both for each level. The first night I played Hotline Miami, I spent hours downing beers with friends and hollering with abandon every time someone blitzed through a level by the skin of their teeth, only to have an enemy break through a door and level them with a shotgun blast.
If you haven’t already picked up Hotline Miami, you’re missing out on just how much enjoyment 10 bucks and an appreciation for the film Drive can bring you.
-Kyle Baron, Editor in Chief
Player choice was a topic that consistently came up over and over throughout the year but it was never more of a factor than in Dishonored. While many games promise a way to influence the gameplay through player choice, many of the systems in place are just illusions that can easily be seen through. That was one of the biggest gripes against Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but Dishonored delivers on what it promises. It is entirely possible to play Dishonored from different gameplay approaches and it hardly ever forces your hand down a particular path. It truly does let the player decide their own fate via their own choices.
-Chris Scott, Reviews Editor