reviews\ Sep 13, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Hard Reset Review


Forget run and cover mechanics, regenerating health, or constantly reloading weapons. Hard Reset is straight-forward, shoot-anything-that-moves game that harks back to the simplistic days of first person shooters. This action-packed shooter will test your skills, reflexes, and patience as you run-and-gun your way through a cyberpunk environment destroying everything you see.

Don't expect much in terms of plot. Between the mayhem are comic-style drawings that poorly attempt to explain what is going on. It's your typical man vs AI story. Hard Reset takes, what I like to call, “the Michael Bay approach”. Ridiculous explosions and nonstop action.

Though simplistic in design, this game is definitely a challenge. Armed with two bad-ass transforming weapons (more on that later) and an environment filled with explosive barrels, cars, and electronic machinery, you must annihilate hordes of enemy robots as they endlessly swarm from all around. Don't expect a second of downtime in Hard Reset. Lurking behind every corner is a wave of merciless enemy robots waiting to tear you limb from limb.

Watch the Hard Reset story teaser

Hard Reset successfully combines the nostalgic feel of an old-fashioned shooter with the glorious HD environment of a modern game. Though fairly linear in design, with only slight room to explore in search of “Secrets”, Bezoar City is as nice to look at as a lifeless, futuristic city overrun by rampaging robots can be. The city's sprawling skyscrapers are loaded with art deco styled detail and corporate advertising reminiscent to Blade Runner. The cluttered streets and tight alleys are littered with abandoned vehicles and run-down architecture defaced with graffiti.

The environment isn't without purpose, however. The futuristic Bezoar City is filled with cold, neon-tech and explosive debris which you must use to your advantage. Strategically placed cars, machinery, barrels, and boxes can all easily be ignited, sending electric currents and burning shrapnel in all directions. You can (and definitely will) use the volatile environment to your advantage and take out large numbers of enemies, but one stray bullet could also spell doom for yourself.

As I mentioned earlier, you are armed only with two weapons that transform to meet your needs. These are the CLG, which uses a more primitive bullet/explosive ammunition, and the N.R.G., which gives off a more futuristic vibe using electricity. As you earn experience, you can upgrade each weapon enabling it to transform into other configurations like a shotgun, grenade launcher, or mortar. Eventually, upgrading each weapon further will lead to secondary firing modes like stuns and AOE damage. In addition to weapon upgrades, you can choose to go with the more passive upgrades, like greater damage resistance or a radar to track the enemies.

See the chaotic gameplay of Hard Reset in this video

Those of you from the less-forgiving generation of games will find Hard Reset as a refreshing challenge. You will often find yourself in small combat areas filled with explosive objects that splash damage or a wayward bullet will easily ignite, resulting in your death. Or there may be times when you are thrown in the middle of two giant robots with little navigation room, while smaller robots chomp away at your health. These “cheap” deaths, as they are often referred to, are a testament to the challenges and difficulties we faced when playing old-school games that didn't coddle it's players. Is it sometimes frustrating? Of course it is. But when it's all said and done, and you complete the level, by carefully plodding your movements and strategically blowing up your surroundings, you get that sense of fulfillment and completion that many modern games don't offer to today's generation.

The game is not without flaws, however. Switching weapons is often difficult and they don't necessarily respond in the timely manner that you need them to. In a game that depends on quickly equipping the right weapon for the situation I would've liked it to switch more quickly. The textures, while nice from far away, are not as detailed as you'd expect form a modern game. Lastly, the game is very short (roughly 4-5 hours), but it does have some replay value if you are looking to find all the “secrets” and get a high score for the level.

While Hard Reset is a fun play, it is by no means groundbreaking. It's a fun throwback for old-school gamers looking to get their fix of explosions. It may appear like mindless running and shooting, but there is more strategy involved than that which meets the eye. The game depends on your reflexes and carefully timed, precise shots to fully maximize the environments destructive potential.

A simple rule to play by: if it moves, shoot it. The second rule to play by: if it doesn't move, you should still shoot it because it will probably explode.


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