by Michael Stallworth
reviewed on PC
Second time around
Hard Reset Redux is the rerelease of the popular 2011 shooter Hard Reset. For those unfamiliar with Hard Reset, it comes from Flying Wild Hog, the team that developed the fantastic Shadow Warrior in 2013. The frantic, bullet spraying action that is the hallmark of Shadow Warrior’s gameplay is certainly present in this predecessor. In Hard Reset Redux you take on the role of Major Fletcher, a sentinel for The Corporation. As a sentinel, it is Fletcher’s job to protect the remnants of the human race from a race of out of control robots that wishes to invade the city of Bezoar, the last human-controlled city on earth.
This introduction is all told to you in a rapid fire series of images that are animated and stylized into a motion comic. In this prologue, the hardnosed Fletcher narrates the barebones of a backstory in a film noir-style monologue reminiscent of Blade Runner. With his backstory established, Fletcher is sent to investigate a patrol that has lost contact with HQ. Fletcher arrives to find all of the members of the patrol brutally murdered, and hostile robots have begun pouring into the city from a breach in the defensive walls. So begins Major Fletcher’s cyberpunk odyssey, along the way he’ll face hordes of robotic enemies, bosses the size of buildings, and lots and lots of explosions.
One area at a time
If you had to describe the gameplay of Hard Reset in one word, that word would have to be explosive. Taking a cue from games such as Quake and Doom, Hard Reset’s enemies swarm around you from all directions, meaning that your feet never stop moving and your guns never stop firing. Hard Reset, in many ways feels like these classic shooters, there’s no cover, no regenerating health, just run and gun combat. Although Hard Reset will feel familiar to players of classic FPS games, Flying Wild Hogs has included several features that help the game establish itself as being more than just a Doom clone.
The gameplay is fairly simple, you move into an environment, kill all the robots, which unlocks the next area where you do the same. In many other games, this style of gameplay becomes repetitive, but Hard Reset does an excellent job of keeping the combat frantic and varied enough to never be boring or monotonous. One place that Hard Reset really shines is in how the level design encourages players to create as much destruction as possible. Almost everything in the game’s environments is either explosive or electrifying. These destructible elements aren’t just for show, shooting them at strategic points in battle can make the difference between life and death when facing an overwhelming horde of robots.
Hard Reset also has a weapon modification and upgrade system for your character. Rather than a huge collection of weapons, players are only given two guns, an assault rifle and an energy weapon. As you make your way through the game, you collect money which can be used to purchase weapon mods from in-game terminals. These mods include grenade launchers, rockets etc. and upgrades that can give your gun an entirely new firing mode. This weapon mod system seems like an interesting idea, but its execution in the game is fairly uninspired. The upgrades for each weapon are exact analogs to one another, the shotgun mod for the assault rifle is identical to the EMP mod for the plasma gun in every way except look. These mods can be upgraded with a secondary fire mode, but again the upgrades are just exact copies from gun to gun. The only thing stopping you from choosing one gun and pouring all of your money into it, is the fear that you will burn through all your ammo for the upgraded weapon and be left to fend with only your unenhanced weapon. In addition to weapon mods, the terminals also allow you to purchase upgrades for your character such as health, shields, and player abilities such as slow-mo when your health drops below a certain point. While the character upgrade system is better than the weapon mods, you’ll still end up wishing that they’d done more with this feature.
In with the new
The ‘Redux’ in Hard Reset’s title isn’t just window dressing, Flying Wild Hog has included a ton of new features and updates in this edition. One welcome addition is the dash feature which lets players boost themselves in any direction to avoid incoming enemies. This feature is invaluable in combat, letting you get some much needed breathing room when surrounded by a throng of robots as well as dodge charging juggernaut enemies like a futuristic bullfighter. Also added in the Redux is the cyber katana which brings a welcome change to the game’s bullet spraying gameplay. The katana can be used in concert with the new dash system, allowing players to move quickly from enemy to enemy, delivering devastating cuts and slashes.
As a game trying to emulate the fast frantic gameplay of old school first person shooters such as Quake or Painkiller, Hard Reset Redux checks every box. The game’s cyberpunk aesthetic looks great and effectively conveys the feeling that you are fighting your way through a dystopian future. The gameplay is tight and frantic, but requires enough strategy to never become arduous or repetitive. Although the game’s upgrading and weapon modding system leaves something to be desired, it’s by no means a deal breaker. Whether you’re new to Hard Reset or have played the previous versions, there’s plenty to be enjoyed in Redux.
Great, frantic action that stays fresh
Lacklustre weapon upgrade system