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The Hong Kong Massacre Review

Edited by: Tiffany Lillie

The Hong Kong Massacre, developed and published by VRESKI, dives onto PC and offers an addicting, brutal challenge. This blood-soaked revenge tale has you avenging the death of your former police partner at the hands of the Triad in — you guessed it — Hong Kong. What little story there is, is delivered via occasional short conversations from the same top-down perspective you'll grow accustomed to during your playthrough. Occasionally there are cutscenes which only show the main character's somber face as he rides in a car, or show little snippets of story details. It's all pretty cryptic, with the story serving as little more than a device to carry you on to the next John-Woo inspired shoot-out.

IT WON'T BE EASY

These ballets of bullets straddle the line between satisfyingly addicting and hair-pullingly frustrating. Much like Hotline Miami, where a single wrong move means restarting the level, the former detective that you control dies in one hit, and likewise, most enemies only need one bullet to take down. Exceptions are boss battles and some armor-wearing foes in later levels. Having a slow-mo ability evens the odds a little, as well as using the all-purpose dodge mechanic that has you dive or roll to briefly be invulnerable to all gunfire. Even with these mechanics, you will die… a lot. This is one of the most challenging games I've played in a very long time.

KEEP YOUR BAR LOW TO KEEP YOUR SANITY

You can earn additional stars that unlock weapons and their respective upgrades by completing levels under a certain time limit, without using slow motion, and (most difficult of all) never missing a shot. It didn't take me long before I realized the futility of trying to complete those challenges and focused on merely clearing the levels, since I'm not a masochist. Adding to the brutal difficulty is some surprisingly intelligent enemy AI that will attempt to flank you and avoid your gunfire behind cover.

Where The Hong Kong Massacres leaves the realm of fair-but-challenging and enters the realm of frustration, is in the somewhat loose controls. VRESKI opted for fluidity of character animation over tight movement. On one hand, that works well by making the gunfights cinematic and stylish, but on the other hand, dying because the character didn't dodge even when you press the correct button is never a good thing. There's a slight delay to the dodge mechanic, and it requires you to be moving at the time it's used, leading to a lot of deaths that seemed unavoidable.

The other problem is that your eyes will almost never be on your character, due to needing to be ever aware of enemy positions, so you rarely know if you're still protected by the invulnerability or not. Still, this looseness of controls can be compensated for. Although the learning curve is steep, eventually it works itself out and you start to get the upper hand.

VISUALS AND MUSIC

In shoot-outs, the particle effects when bullets explode into the destructible elements of environments is a thing of beauty. These graphical flairs, especially in slow motion, drive home the John-Woo inspiration. The music that accompanies the action is a mixed bag, however. Some levels have a slick atmospheric beat that fits the action well, but others sport an almost funky upbeat song that seems a little out of place.

FINAL NOTE

The Achilles heel for The Hong Kong Massacre is repetition. A lack of weapon variety and levels that all essentially play the same, leave things feeling somewhat tedious. Luckily, the core experiences are addictive enough that it saves it from boredom.

6

The Verdict: Good

The Hong Kong Massacre is Hotline Miami meets Max Payne, and it offers a healthy amount of challenge that sometimes borders on unfair. Its presentation is bare bones, but it's got enough style to make up for several of its shortcomings.

Caleb Bailey
Written by
Wednesday, 13 February 2019 05:34
Published in Action

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Caleb is a game reviewer who is way more of a nostalgic curmudgeon than any 25 year old has any right to be. He enjoys shooters, open world games and is a huge believer in virtual reality's potential. His guilty pleasure movie of choice is The Neverending Story which he still shamefully watches because it was his childhood favorite. He hopes to one day ride Falkor the Luckdragon in VR because that is what he means when he says virtual reality has potential.

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