Pass me a couple of Painkillers will you?
First Person Shooters are common nowadays. Perhaps you have even seen one, in game zoos dotted far across the British Isles and further afield. The zoos have got a new addition - please don’t aggravate it. From the amazingly-named Flying Wild Hog comes Hard Reset, an old-school shooter with new-school visuals. Aiming to remove the influence of Call of Duty from the genre, Hard Reset is a single-player only game exclusively made for the PC.
This, as you would expect, has PC gamers like me drooling like hungry dogs at the game, but does it warrant the spilling of our digestive juices? Is Hard Reset a juicy ripe bit of steak and an absolute treat to consume? Or is it a horrible lump of gristle that, though once part of something delicious, is now disgusting and unnecessary?
Bang...and the robots are gone!
Set in a cyberpunk world, you play as Major Fletcher, a Corporation soldier who is tasked with patrolling the last bastion of humanity, the futuristic metropolis called Bezoar City. Set in the year 2436, Fletcher needs to understand and protect The Sanctuary, a large network that stores a large amount of digitalized human personalities. Who from? Mysterious Cyborgs known as The Machines, who desire access to The Sanctuary in order to break the limits of their current generation of Artificial Intelligence. Fancy Sci-Fi setting aside, this is nothing new, but rather than trying to sneak the clichés through, Hard Reset embraces them by exaggerating them. Fletcher is a typical action hero in every way, right down to the border-line alcoholism that is put aside when there is a breach in Sector 6. Told through a series of comic-book style cut-scenes that are reminiscent of both inFamous and Max Payne, Hard Reset pulls no punches in its obvious cyberpunk influences.
Gameplay-wise, it plays like the shooters of old- batshit insane. Where some games go for the realistic ‘oh look, there’s a just a few enemies in this dimly lit corridor- pick them off’ approach, Hard Reset goes for the ‘oh look, there’s just a few hundred enemy robots swarming up the street- let rip’ approach, and it’s certainly better for it. It is an enjoyable shoot-em-up that doesn’t sacrifice story for gameplay, instead juxtaposing them both to create a brilliant experience. This experience, however, is rather short-lived. Whilst the campaign is engaging for the most part, it is VERY short, with virtually no replayability. A lack of co-op also harms this game. Being single-player only is a commendable endeavour, but 4 hours of campaign is inexcusable. Sure, there’s a ‘EX Mode’ which basically fulfils the ‘New Game Plus’ craze that seems to be sweeping several games as of late, but this adds nothing to the game at all. If this was a well-rounded story that ended on a logical and foreseeable note, then it wouldn’t be such a disappointment. You guessed my next point – the game literally stops dead with no warning. Flying Wild Hog had such a promising game on their hands, and Hard Reset just feels like an extended Tech Demo.
Hard Reset is a stunning title, built from the ground up by Flying Wild Hog using their own proprietary engine exclusively for PC. As such, there is the presence of brilliant lighting effects in the sprawling metropolis that really make the city a feast for the eyes. Add to this the brilliant audio, with the enemies sounding truly terrifying, and you really are immersed in Bezoar City for hours on end. However, due to the aforementioned Tech Demo style, you don’t get to spend hours immersed in Bezoar City, you just get to spend a few hours there instead. It’s like being taken to this amazing desert island, with the promise of a nice long visit, and then being taken back on the plane when you’ve only just started to adjust to the climate.
This problem of length isn’t the only problem to rip the heart out of such a promising title. Whilst there are practically hundreds of enemies on screen at one time during plenty of sections in the campaign, they all tend to be of the same type. In fact, there only seemed to be a handful of different enemy types in the entire game, and this leads to a lack of variety in battles and deja vu is rife. Another pressing issue is the fact that rather than focusing on single-player being a good thing for the story, it has in fact been a bad thing for the entire game. Since the campaign is essentially anorexic, the game has the appearance of it as well, since the campaign was the ONLY THING IN THE GAME. No co-op, no challenges, nothing. Just a new game plus mode that adds nothing at all to the replayability of the title.
Oh Hard Reset, you promised so much. And, to a certain extent, delivered on those promises with an enthralling old-school shooting experience. Unfortunately, you forgot to put anything else in, leaving yourself appearing like a short one-trick pony- a dancing Shetland pony, if you want an enjoyable picture to take away from this review. Don’t get me wrong, the campaign is incredibly fun, the game looks really nice, and I particularly enjoyed the cut-scenes. These are all positive things for a game to have, and more games should emulate Hard Reset in this regard.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing else that saves the game. With a plethora of options available to Flying Wild Hog to include, they instead included none, and forgot to leave part of the campaign in as well. It’s a brilliant game, and well worth your time. Just don’t expect it to take up too much time.
Brilliant Visuals. Engaging gameplay. A Technical Marvel.
Nothing much to do at all in the game. Confusion arises over the weaponry. Lack of variation in enemy types leads to deja vu. Stonewall ending. No multiplayer is a hindrance rather than a blessing.