Simple works the best
(Played on Steam with controller in English text)
If you think there is a review for 2019’s Hong Kong Massacre because Chad Stahelski called this game the inspiration for that shot-from-top-down-perspective “Dragon Breathe scene” in John Wick Chapter 4, you would be correct. But you would be wrong to assume that yours truly didn’t play the game until recently since I unlocked the Steam achievement for killing ten thousand in the game early 2019. And THKM was name dropped by yours truly in their negative review of John Woo Presents Strongholds.
If A Better Tomorrow was released the same week as Die Hard, you can be sure that 20th Century’s fireworks factory on a high-rise would eat the lunch of Woo’s Wuxia with guns. This of course did not happen in the movies, but something similar happened early 2019 with games. The Hong Kong Massacre was released on January, the twenty-second, merely three days before Resident Evil 2 remake came out. One can see a massacre when it comes to sale numbers coming. But yours truly had the misfortune of RE2 not cooperating until March that year. So, I kept playing HKM.
It is a top-down blood bath obviously in the mold of Hotline Miami. But instead of one all-round killing machine fighting legions of all-round killing machines, HKM is about one lone gunman facing off squads of gunmen. There is no melee whatsoever. One chooses from four types of weapons, pistol, shotgun, submachinegun and assault rifle. And the color-coded enemies wiled an identical arsenal: yellow jackets with handguns; red jackets with smg; another shade of red being the uniform of riflemen and shotgunners in white coats. Aside from those in yellow, other 3 types do dolphin dives like the player character does. In true John Woo movie fashion, no reloads but fallen enemies’ guns can be picked up with full clips in them.
This game is a “left trigger, right trigger” affair, but the left trigger is for aiming better in the different way: to start Slow Motion. The game being quite arcadey, one can always see the bullets flying, so no point in calling it “bullet time” and risk Cease and Desist from Take-Two. Just because one can see bullets does not mean they can evade those, the right bumper is for dolphin dives, though there are lags when one would dive out of one bullet’s way only ended shot by another. It has to work with Slow-Mo just for higher survival rate. Though this being an indie title, do not except it to work all that well. Sometimes being messy is part of the charm.
Like in Hotline Miami, almost everyone dies by one-shot. I say “almost” because there are 5 bosses who can take more punishment. The boss fights are chases when one has to keep up with the bosses, put as many rounds into them as possible while fend off some goons.
The lead buried here is that this game is polygonal and it tries to “keep up with the Jones” in the field of being a polygonal title in 2019. There are lens flares and particle effect all over the screen. The latter in particular must be why Stahelski and team chose the game as the inspiration for John Wick 4’s top-down scene, the shotgun blast in HKM looks ridiculous and it’s not even Dragon Breath.
The story is standard revenge tropes. A policeman’s partner was gunned down by a drug gang after a high-profile bust and now he is committing the titular massacre in the name of vengeance. Simple and almost elegant. This is a game for simple fun of shooting people and one should give it a shot if they find the “high efficiency, high body count” kind of ultra violence is what they want in a video game now.