If anyone asked me to name my favourite Hotline Miami 2 character or level, it would be very hard to decide, but if I were to point at the best three or five, the Soldier and his heroic tour of duty would certainly be among them. One of the main reasons is that his levels stand out from the rest of the game. The difference doesn’t lay in the mechanics, although they do have some unique traits, especially the Soldier’s ability to simultaneously carry two weapons. What really matters is the setting: instead of gang wars and vigilante raids in the corrupted Miami hive, we’re fighting a lost war in the exotic locations of Java and Hawaii. Personally, I find it a welcome change to play a character who finds himself in the middle of a presumably just war, defending his country, even if the actual gameplay is brutal as usual and the gore from the Russian throats slit open could fill the entire Panama Channel. Somehow, I have the impression that the game developers were aware of this change of tone, because the soundtrack for the Soldier’s levels is significantly more upbeat that the rest of the HM2 musical score.
Ultimately, playing the Soldier campaign feels like a separate game, maybe a spin-off or a DLC. While I’m fully aware that the geniuses from Dennaton declared that Hotline Miami 2 was the final installation of the series, I cannot help but wonder how great a Soldier-centered sequel would be.
Just imagine another game in the length of HM2, maintaining most of its mechanics and the audiovisual style, but focused on the military theme. This would be a great opportunity to explore the dark aspects of war in the vein of Spec Ops: The Line. The short interactive scenes between the main missions could provide a chance to build up well-written characters through conversations and even subquests. Very well, I know that it’s not going to happen unless a modder gets the same idea… Or maybe I should become a modder myself?