Review: Hard Reset
Flying Wild Hogs decided to try something different when it came to Hard Reset. They wanted to announce it, then release it, all in a very short period of time. This was odd for most to comprehend since games are usually announced way before they are even done or even started on for that matter. After looking at every video I could findfor Hard Reset, I found myself day dreaming of reliving my incredible experiences I had back in my past when shooters were frantic and unrelenting in its desire to wear you down. After the install was finished, it was time to see if all that day dreaming can become a reality. These days when gaming, I expect some sort of story that I can follow regardless of how ridiculous it is. I was a little surprised how vapid the story is in Hard Reset. Told in motion comic cutscenes, I gave up trying to understand what was really going on to get to what I was here for to begin with,the promise of shooting the ever-loving crap out of robots. Upon getting in the game, you are greeted with unbelievably gorgeous graphics. I have a decent machine (ATI 5770 1GB, Phenom II x4 945) and with the settings on "ultra", I was getting a solid 50-60 frames per second. Hard Reset is one of the best looking games I have seen this year. The detail of the world was down right amazing. Hats off to all the little things that went into the animation all throughout the game as well. Just the main menu for the game alone is indication enough that Flying Wild Hog loves them some animation.
Here is the one thing you must learn if you want to survive in Hard Reset, NEVER…..STOP…..MOVING. This applies to the combat portions of the game of course. There are breaks in the action long enough for you to rest your fingers and explore your surroundings. You don't have to explore if you just want to straight up kill things although it would benefit you to do so since there are secret areas that hold valuable upgrade points to get new weapon modules and new passive abilities. More on that later. The combat is hectic and fast paced with your good old buddy, circle strafe, becoming your best friend again. Something I noticed was that the movement speed was a tad slow for how many enemies are thrown at you during the levels. Certain robots will charge you and it makes it hard sometimes to time your movements to side step out of the way. There is a sprint in Hard Reset however its a short burst and you cannot use it again until the sprint bar fully recharges making a quick getaway not possible in crucial moments.
The weapons given to you to survive the onslaught of robots consists of a CLN gun that fires your traditional ammo while the NRG gun uses energy for its ammo. Using the upgrade points you find throughout the levels or by killing enemies at upgrade terminals, you can purchase add-on modules that will give 4 additional new weapon configurations for each gun. Basically, your CLN and NRG guns transform into different types of weapons which gave me a sense of relief knowing essentially I had more than 2 guns that you start out with at the beginning of the game. Coming back to the animation, I can't rave about it enough. It never ceases to amuse me when my CLN gun transforms into a shotgun or staring at the the glowing ball on the NRG gun. Besides the shotgun, I think the rocket launcher with the cluster upgrade were the ones I used the most when I had the CLN equipped. The clear winner using the NRG gun was the mortar blast and the smart gun. Having the ability to lock on to your target and home in on it is a blessing especially later in the game. Alongside the weapon upgrades, there are upgrades for your health, shields, ammo capacity and a enhanced mode which when near death, slows down time to give you that edge you might need survive.
Environmental hazards also play a big role in your survival. If you play it right, you can kill a mob of buzzsaw wielding robots with one shot to an electrical box, exploding barrel or even a car. Good thing the streets seem to be abandoned or else a lot of people would be killed in the mass explosion you can cause with the environment. If you are not careful though, environmental hazards can backfire on you since the enemies can set them off as well.
Only a few things held back Hard Reset from being that adrenaline fueled experience I wanted so bad. Without something keeping you invested in the world besides beautiful detail and crazy combat, which gets a little repetitive after 3 hours of the enemies doing the same patterns over and over, the boredom creeps in. It also doesn't help when the game ends with no indication that you are at the end of your journey. The abrupt ending made me wonder if the game didn't install correctly or if the review build I received was not finished quite yet. If you are looking for something to keep you coming back for more after the end of the story, you can always try to improve your score by seeing your stats at the end of every level and trying to top it by replaying the level. I can see people doing speed runs while trying to get all the secrets in the level. I feel Hard Reset offers just enough to make this nod to the olden days of PC shooters worth it for the nostalgia it will give seasoned PC gamers while still giving new gamers enough excitement for them to enjoy.