Hard Corps: Uprising Review
Anyone who played and enjoyed the original Contra back in the '80s can attest to the satisfaction that the game brought. Despite its brutal difficulty, which forced players to memorize enemy patterns and rely on near-perfect twitch reflexes, the Contra series was a pure joy. Hard Corps: Uprising, the latest game in the long-running shoot 'em up series, features a new look and the same great gameplay that Contra has been known for all these years. That said, you'll probably only enjoy it if you like sadistic games that don't go easy on you.
You play as Bahamut and Krystal, two crusaders bent on stopping an evil government organization whose sole intention is to rule the world with an iron fist. The story is delivered through pre-chapter text briefings, and it is fairly typical for this type of game. As you progress, you delve into the characters' personal vendettas and emotions, making it somewhat deeper than the average retro shooter.
Chances are you won't be paying much attention to the game's story, even despite its attempt to tug at your heartstrings. You're more likely to be engrossed in the action-packed gameplay that Uprising offers. Rest assured, this game is not for the weak of heart. If you go into Uprising expecting a moderate challenge, think again. This game doesn't ease you into the experience, and you can't adjust the difficulty. The moment you begin playing Uprising, you better be serious about getting through each level.
Immediately, enemies fill the screen and bullets fly through the air, forcing you to be alert at all times. The game has an incredibly steep learning curve that newcomers to the genre and especially the series may need to adapt to. It takes patience and a steady hand to get the hang of Uprising, and you're likely to feel like there's no hope during your first few minutes with the game. As flat-out difficult and frustrating as Uprising can be, though, it gives you the ultimate feeling of satisfaction the moment you clear a level. Even if you score a C or D rank, getting through the arduous stage makes you feel like a total bad-ass.
Uprising doesn't restrict you solely to running and gunning. Plenty of sections in the game are vehicle-based and offer a different type of challenge. There's also some fun platforming to engage in. And enough can't be said about the game's bosses. Throughout each of the eight levels in Uprising, you encounter a plethora of massive enemies that truly test your skills. Dodging their attacks and maneuvering around their constant fire is the only way to survive and defeat these mechanical monstrosities.
Uprising features two modes of play that you can jump into. Arcade is the more basic mode that tasks you with completing the game's eight levels. You have a set number of lives and continues, and your stats remain static throughout the entire mode. Contra purists will feel at home as they plow through this mode, which isn't forgiving at all. Rising mode, on the other hand, features the same eight levels as Arcade, but killing enemies and collecting items rewards you with Corps Points that can be spent in the game's shop in exchange for weapon upgrades, health upgrades, special moves, and extra lives. Rising mode is still tough, but it does a great job of allowing you to increase your chances of survival, and grinding to earn Corps Points is unexpectedly fun.
You can team up with a friend in local or online co-op, or you can get together with someone from around the world. The game lets you take on both Arcade and Rising modes with another gamer, and playing through the latter still awards you with Corps Points that you can use to permanently level up your characters. Having another gun on screen is a big help, and it definitely makes the game a little easier to get into if you don't fancy ridiculously hard games.
Though Uprising plays a lot like a Contra game, it doesn't look like one. That's not a bad thing, though, because the game's stylized anime visuals work incredibly well. Animations are fluid, environments are beautiful, and explosions are nasty. The game looks like an action-packed animated series, and this new visual style really fits the franchise.
Heavy guitar riffs and fast-paced music add to the chaotic vibe of the gameplay and visuals. There are also plenty of speech clips from both your characters and the game's enemies. The voice acting is incredibly cheesy, but in an enjoyable, 1980s way. Make no mistake about it: The speech in the game is pretty bad, but strangely enough, it works within the context.
Uprising is for gamers who seriously enjoy punishing games. If you're a casual fan of the shoot 'em up genre, this game may not appeal to you. My first 30 minutes with Uprising were riddled with frustration and countless expletives, but it didn't take long for me to realize that that was exactly what Uprising was meant to do. This isn't a busted game that accidentally denies you the ability to progress. It's a purposely tough game that forces you to be fully aware of everything that goes on in front of you. If you enjoy challenging games that hark back to the NES era, you're bound to fall in love with Hard Corps: Uprising. Just expect this to be the type of love that frequently makes you shout and curse.