I love games that make you feel powerful, I love games that are addictive and games that have a high skill ceiling. Hong Kong Massacre ticks all of these boxes and more. It’s like Hotline Miami and a John Woo film had a baby, it’s fast, brutal and awesome. It’s a great feeling to cartwheel over a table and simultaneously kill two enemies with one shotgun shot while debris floats all over the room in slow motion.
The game starts with the protagonist surrounded by sirens and covered in blood, it’s a short cutscene but gives you a slight insight into the narrative of the game. The story then unfolds using cutscenes and dialogue between each mission, all taking place in the past and filling in what happened previously. These small story interludes are well made and have a gritty movie look to them, sometimes they seemed to display at very low resolution and I am not sure if this is intentional or not.
Gameplay-wise Hong Kong Massacre is very simple, take out all the enemies in the stage without being shot. It sounds simple but in practice it’s a bit more complex than that, one hit and you’re dead so you have to predict enemies movements and plan ahead. Luckily though you have a few tools at your disposal to even the score, you can dive around the level in a matrix-esque fashion and slow down time. You are invincible when you dive and this can take many forms depending on your surroundings. If you are next to a table your character may slide over it, he may even cartwheel over objects or slide along the floor depending on where you are. All of these moves look and feel great to perform and you can fire your weapons while you are doing so. It’s an amazing feeling to plough through a level without getting hit while performing various acrobatic manoeuvres and taking out the enemies.
The controls are very simple and the game acts like a traditional twin-stick shooter. You have a fire button, a slow-mo button, a dive button and a button to swap weapons with a downed foe. The game is very fast and hectic at times and the simple control scheme makes playing the game very easy and fluid. After a little while playing it all felt very natural and I was hopping over obstacles, killing foes and swapping weapons on the fly. It is all very empowering and once you get the hang of everything is very addictive and fun to play.
Each level also has additional bonus objectives which consist of a time to beat, no use of slow-mo and perfect aim. These objectives add some replay value to the stages and require you to mix up your tactics if you want all three stars for each stage. The stars you accrue throughout your journey are used to unlock the four weapons available and upgrade their stats. Replaying levels for more stars is definitely worth your time as some of the weapon upgrades really help and make all the killing a bit easier. You can upgrade the fire-rate of your weapons, your movement speed and even additional ammo negating the need to swap weapons so often.
Hong Kong Massacre is a nice looking game, not just graphically but with all the effects and destructible environments coming into play it really ramps up the style and adds to the overall look of the game. As you’re firing through doors and other objects in the level they splinter and break, this causes a storm of debris to scatter through the rooms as you fly through them at breakneck speed. The whole effect is very well done, enemies fly through windows, crash through tables and when the air is full of bullets and debris its stunning to see, even more so when you slow down time.
The music present in this title is amazing, crunchy, grimy tracks bang and reverberate through each level. With you having to restart the levels so many times this was a must, boring repetitive music would have been a big no-no. Luckily all the tracks are great and I found myself really getting into the action and letting the pumping soundtrack take hold.
Apart from the odd screen tear here and there and some low-resolution cutscenes the performance and presentation of Hing Kong Massacre are great. Even when the screen is full of detritus, bullets, blood and other forms of carnage, the game does not suffer at all. The framerate is good and I had zero performance issues outside of the two small things I mentioned earlier. It’s a joy to play and performs very well. The game also restarts amazingly fast, when you die a lot and have to retry often is a great thing to have. Nothing is worse than having to wait around for load screen to just die in three seconds.
First and foremost Hong Kong Massacre is brilliant, it makes you feel like a bad-ass and it’s great fun. As long as you don’t mind dying and restarting often you will love it. It takes quite a bit of skill to complete each level with all the extra challenges and I like that, it takes a bit to get used to the dive mechanics but when you do it’s so addictive. Partnered with the great soundtrack and good performance it’s a game worth your money, it will make you feel powerful and when it ‘clicks’ you may not be able to put it down.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*