Hotline 2: Overview
Developer NetEnt takes players back to Miami in a follow up to the scorching hot crime-themed slot Hotline. Like its predecessor, Hotline 2 remains firmly implanted in the 1980s and just as full of Miami Vice references. At first glance, it might not appear much has changed. However, Hotline 2 is a slot that stands on its own two feet via a few feature changes and a cosmetic upgrade. Let's check the new alterations while busting out a white Armani suit (without tie or socks of course), and take to the blazing Miami streets.
Let's start by getting reacquainted with the two heroes, styled after iconic Miami Vice duo Sonny and Rico. First up is the moustached metrosexual Quinn, played by Danny Champion, followed by the Jheri curled Riviera played by Robert T. Grier. Of course, we can't forget the fabulous guest star, Karoline Wagner, who plays Kitty Weiss. All of these theatrics are completely overblown like two-story shoulder pads, but the world-building is part of the series' charm. You don't just play Hotline 2; you lose yourself in it.
Part of the trip is due to the audiovisual's. They might not make the full use of modern graphics cards, but are ideal for the theme nonetheless. The game is all pastels at sunset by the beach which looks like a dreamy postcard. The next, more convincing factor is the sound. Here we have to take a moment to acknowledge what the team has crafted. The soundtrack is quite sublime. If you're a 80s movie buff or TV show enthusiast, memories and nostalgia are bound to come flowing back. Several times during play, a certain saxophone note, or Roto Tom beat made us pause to savour a reawakened memory. As well as spinning reels, the music would make a perfect soundtrack for a range of activities – kung fu training, cruising Ocean Drive with the top down, a house party, sailing, getting jiggy. It's as versatile as it is enjoyable.
When it comes to the nuts and bolts of the game, Hotline 2 utilizes a 5-reel, 243 win ways format which means you won't have to keep track of paylines. Playable from 30 p/c to £/€150 per spin, the RTP is down a bit from the first, but still nicely average at 96.05% while volatility rides medium.
The crime-busting duo return to the paytable as two of the premium symbols. They are joined by a dude wearing a mic, while Kitty Weiss is the most valuable symbol. Like before, the six low pay symbols are all jewellery related items. Values aren't high on their own; you have been pre-warned. As an example, landing a line of 5 Kitties returns just 2.66 times the bet.
Hotline 2: Features
Hotline 2 keeps things relatively simple when it comes to features, serving up regular doses of Expanding Wilds while Free Spins crop up less so. Like the first, Hotline 2 includes a Hotline mechanic, but it works a little differently this time. Instead of rows, the middle three reels make up the Hotline zone which can be activated individually. Messing around with the Hotlines will also affect the base game RTP as such: 94.51%, 95.35%, or 96.05% with 1, 2, or 3 Hotlines activated.
In the base game, any wild symbol that lands within the Hotline zone expands to cover the whole reel. There's also a randomly activated Hotline feature which is a bit similar to the Wild Desire feature in Immortal Romance. When activated, the scene turns to nighttime and 1 to 3 reels inside the Hotline zone are transformed into fully stacked wilds.
Keep an eye out for the Neon pink flamingo scatters which are the key to the Free Spins - 3 of them appearing on the middle three Hotlines awards 7 free spins. During free spins, a wild symbol on a Hotline always expands to cover the entire reel whilst also expanding the actual height of the reel by 1 symbol. At most, the three Hotline reels can expand to 6 rows in height, creating 1,944 bet ways. When a Hotline reel reaches its maximum height, 2 additional free spins are awarded.
If you don't care waiting for the bonus to drop, NetEnt has included a bonus buy option. For a price of 20x, 40x, or 60x, players can choose to play the bonus with 1, 2, or 3 Hotlines activated respectively.
Hotline 2: Verdict
Hotline 2 turned out to be quite a hoot. It's simple, fun, straight forward gaming with a few features nestled in for good measure. There may be critics who think part 2 is too close to the original, served cold like last night's leftovers. Yes, there is merit to that argument. Hotline 2 isn't a massive shift, but things have moved on. Give it a few spins and the changes become apparent, for good or ill depending on personal preference.
Fans of the first probably won't be able to help but become fans of Hotline 2. Expanding rows during free spins also work well, as they have done in Dragon Maiden or White Rabbit, leading to an all-round competent slot. One thing to mention is that expanding wilds do hit quite frequently - to the detriment of free spins frequency.
Whilst not very innovative as such, every single aspect of Hotline 2 comes together incredibly well to offer an all around solid slot - from the RTP and the satisfactory flow of the gameplay, to the features and audiovisual production. So yeah, the gameplay is good, yet it's the bitchin vibes the game musters up that make it extra compelling, particularly the epic sounds. Mixing in potential of 5,184 times the stake, makes it hard not to wrap on a pair of Ray-Bans and pretend you're part of the squad.
Hotline 2 is an intoxicating celebration to the 80s that will have you pounding the spin button for more.