Let’s get it out of the way then, shall we? The comparisons to Hotline Miami are inescapable: both feature violent antiheroes and pixelated rooms full of glorious brutalised corpses, while music thumps away into the background. I think that’s unfair to both parties though, Not A Hero is its own beast.

I think Not A Hero owes more of a debt to Megadrive-era sidescrolling shooters like Robocop Vs Terminator and also to Roll7’s own OlliOlli. The best skateboarding games are imbued with a sense of momentum, a special energy that runs through the gameplay and creates a magical sort of flow that you can only tap into after some experience with the game.

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The highest compliment I can pay Not A Hero is that in its finest moments it captures that same breakneck speed you associate with OlliOlli. There’s a tremendous energy to the gunplay as you slide through firefights and dive across rooftops, massacring bad guys in the name of Bunnylord.

As a result I quickly found myself viewing each room like a ‘spot’ to trick off. You dash into each room, commit unspeakable acts of violence, take a second to reload your weapon of choice, and move on. When taken at my own pace I quickly found the game easy to manage; by flitting between cover and using the valuable slide tackle, I can easily dispatch rooms full of goons. But then the rug gets pulled out from under you. Walls explode as ambushers assault, kamikaze samurai charge like furious katana wielding rhinos and exploding cats blow you out of high rise windows to a grisly end on the pavement below.

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It’s rare to see a game with such a flair for the dramatic, and it owes a lot to its Hong Kong cinema roots. Your character of choice will frequently be firing from cover and diving from roof to roof through plate glass windows as the fighting intensifies. It’s incredibly polished and it’s the smaller details that make it: unique reload animations, interesting weapon interactions and the way whenever you shoot a man near a window he takes a tumble to the streets below.

The game features multiple weapons as ammo pick-ups. While “Hi-Cap” doubles your ammo count and “Powershot” is massively powerful, the most fun is to be had with the more esoteric ammo types such as the “Nadeshot”, which knocks enemies back before causing them to explode. The usable pick-ups range from grenades to landmines, to the aforementioned ‘cat bomb’, which will wander down the corridor for a while before pulping most of that floor’s bad guys in a ball of cleansing flame.

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In essence, the combat is frenetic and compulsive. You’ll hammer the button to restart each time you get cut down mid-mission, and replay levels again and again trying to achieve the side objectives in a hail of gunfire.

There are some annoyances. I found some of the enemies in the later parts of the game to be more annoying rather than fun, teleporting enemies and juggernauts that kill you as soon as they make contact and soak up half a magazine of ammo. As a result the final third of the game’s 21 missions really dragged for me.

Helping the replayability is a cast of unique characters: starting with the pistol wielding Steve, you’ll be introduced to a total of nine characters with their own weapons and unique abilities. I’ve got a soft spot for the shotgun wielding Cletus, who can blow down doors and knock people aside with his shotgun blasts. I also like the dual-wielding Clive, who lights a fresh cigarette during his reloading animation, and dispatches enemies with a hail of pistol fire and a clipped British accent.

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The premise behind the massacres is strong. It’s 21 days until the election, and political animal Bunnylord needs to be elected. All he has right now is a gun toting campaign manager and a dream: no more crime. Rather than taking to a stage and shouting out for harsher sentencing, Bunnylord wants to be tough on crime and tougher on the causes of crime – criminals. By killing all of the criminals, crime will go down and Bunnylord will be elected. Simple, right?

These are bookended with some cutscenes that waver between genuinely funny and just a bit confusing, with Bunnylord throwing out a mixture of parables, off topic rants, and milkshake evangelism. While the voice acting and barks are very well done, the music is just passable. Hotline Miami raised the bar for ‘music to kill people to’, but I found the music in Not A Hero to be pretty average. This isn’t a killer, but after several hours of play I still can’t remember any it.

That’s fine, because what I do remember and, will be thinking of for a while, is the brutal combat, the replayable levels, and the sight of an anthropomorphic purple rabbit executing a gangster with a burst of assault rifle fire. Political power really does come from the barrel of a gun.

(Disclosure: I know John Ribbins well enough to say hi to in the pub, and we’ve spoken 3-4 times. I think I went to his birthday party. Me and Bunnylord share a love for milkshakes. Here’s a photo of me and Bunnylord while I was on the campaign trail. For Bunnylord.)

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