Game Rant’s Anthony Mole reviews Hard Reset
Red barrels have become a sort of cliche in modern day gaming. It’s near impossible to name a modern day FPS that doesn’t present players with a handful of enemies and an explosive barrel or two at least once. Rather than try and reinvent the wheel, Hard Reset thrives on these staples – attempting to create a game that will appeal to fans of old school shooters, and for the most part it works.
Gameplay itself is both difficult and solid, albeit at times repetitive, though there a few flaws here and there that keep Hard Reset from the ranks of the PC’s most elite titles.
The Hard Reset gameplay is borrowed straight from classic shooters. Players do not have the option to aim down sights and are, for the most part, hip firing their weapons throughout the game. The main character, CLN operative Major Fletcher, has access to two weapons, a standard rifle and a plasma rifle. While the weapons may seem very by the books at the beginning of the game – by the end, players will have upgraded their weapons to the point where their original functions are a distant memory. Hard Reset offers a plethora of upgrade choices, allowing for players to choose how they want to upgrade their weapons. For example, on the first upgrade to the rifle, players can opt to attach a scope, a shotgun or a grenade launcher. Weapons can later be equipped with more helpful tools, such as EMP grenades for the standard rifle or a mini-electric mortar for the plasma rifle.
The game itself can be unforgiving at times, and should not at all be classified as a “run and gun” shooter. Enemies have a lot of health, and can do a significant amount of damage – even on normal difficulty. Players who run head first into a battle will see the Game Over screen frequently. Instead, gamers have to think tactically about how to approach a situation, focusing on the environment, instead of enemies. The environments in Hard Reset give players a myriad of explosive barrels and conduits to shoot at, helpful for taking out packs of weaker enemies or offering significant damage to larger ones. While this may prove to be a bit repetitive for some, the overall result is a game which makes the player think about attacks, and can at times cause surges of adrenaline – as players realize they shot the red barrel just after the enemies left the blast radius. Tension is heightened by the absence of health regeneration. Enemies will usually drop health or ammo packs, but in the middle of a firefight it can be difficult to run over to the nearest corpse and come out in one piece.
Hard Reset is a great adage to old school PC shooters, but sadly the game brings with it one small issue from the past: a lack of concise story. The premise is simple, players take control of Major Flecther, a CLN operative who has to kill robots because robots are killing people. Cutscenes are told in a comic book style, much like the InFamous games. It’s not at all compelling, and it is clear that Flying Wild Hog intentionally let the story take a backseat to the gameplay. Normally this might not have been an issue, but the cyberpunk setting of Hard Reset just clamors for some sort of backstory. There’s little to no character development and the voice acting itself is lacking. One of the characters sounds like he could have been taken straight out of Doom: Repercussions of Evil.
While Hard Reset isn’t a very long game (depending on difficulty it can clock in at under five hours) there is more than enough replayability to be had. At the end of each level players will be scored based on many factors, such as time they took to complete the level, damage inflicted, secrets found, etc. It would have been nice if there was some sort of leaderboard support to help add to the replayability, but alas players will have to settle for beating their previous scores.
As mentioned, players will also be rewarded for exploring levels. Hidden throughout each chapter are a variety of secrets, though sadly these secrets are nothing more than health or ammo caches. While these caches are probably very helpful at the higher difficulties, they’re mostly pointless on normal difficulty – and a complete missed opportunity to fill-out the story. Aside from some nano (the substance used to upgrade weapons) anything else found in these caches is likely scattered throughout the main path, considering most enemies will drop health or ammo when they die. It would have been great to see these secrets add something to the already paper thin plot, though it seems one will have to settle for little more than rifle rounds.
Hard Reset isn’t a game that breaks the mold, it’s a game the revels in it. Fans of old school PC shooters will adore Hard Reset. Filled with retro game mechanics, detailed environments and gameplay that is tough but fair, there is more than enough fun to be in this PC exclusive shooter. While the game isn’t prefect or original – one enemy type looks like it was borrowed straight from Ratchet and Clank – there is still enough to warrant a purchase.
Hard Reset is available September 13th for the PC, via Steam.
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