by Ryan Sandrey
previewed on PC
Upgrade Sequence Initiated
The first level gets you to grips with your character and his awesome weaponry, with Fletcher carrying two customizable weapons, which can evolve with the purchase of attachments and upgrades. The first is a ballistics weapon that, while primarily an Assault Rifle, can transform into a double-barrelled shotgun, a grenade launcher and just a general badass weapon. The second slot is occupied by the energy weapon, which comprises a Plasma Rifle that can transform into a Pulse Rifle as well as a number of other Energy weapons. All of these weapons use generic ammunition for each type of weapon, and they result in fast and frantic gunplay reminiscent of old-school shooters like Quake, as well as multiplayer stalwarts like Unreal Tournament.
Your armor and abilities can also be upgraded, providing you with the ability to have increased damage resistance, amongst other things. Abilities, including an enhanced perception mode where the world slows down as you reach critical health, also make things for Fletcher a little bit easier when facing the many challenges you will encounter throughout the game. These upgrades also encourage the exploration (and destruction) of environments, in order to find the currency hidden in secret areas, which you find by utilizing Hard Reset's damage engine and blowing stuff up.
Me and the Machines
With most shooters these days living or dying by the standard of their multiplayer, Hard Reset has made a brave decision in choosing to not include a multiplayer aspect at all. Instead, Flying Wild Hog has chosen to focus on an engaging single-player experience, which is shown in the next two levels of the build. The second level sees Fletcher infiltrating a Hospital to search for laboratories that are producing the Machines. Along the way, you encounter a whole range of Terminator-inspired machines and some insanely difficult set-pieces that really show the necessity of upgrading your gear. Set in an interior environment rather than in the streets of Bezoar like the first level, Hard Reset really shows the effects that lighting can have on interior fighting, with many enemies startling you when they emerge from the shadows.
The final level jumps back a few levels in the canon of the game to show off another of Hard Reset's features, the traditional boss battle. Seen in the likes of the disappointingly mediocre Duke Nukem: Forever, here it works in a similar way, but with none of the terrible textures seen in Duke's less-than-triumphant return. Hard Reset is so retro it's basically counting its ration stamps, but at the same time that's what makes it feel so fresh. With it shipping in September, it has a lot of premium titles to compete against, but Hard Reset seems more than up to the challenge. If you're a PC gamer who yearns for the good old days of shooters, or simply are just bored of Call of Duty, Hard Reset looks like the FPS game for you this year.