Hard Reset – Review
Platform | Release Date
PC | September 13, 2011
Developed by The Flying Wild Hog
Published by Steam
Hard Reset is an action-packed, single-player shooter for the PC. With over-the-top destruction, loads of enemies, great weapon variety and a beautifully realized cyberpunk setting, Hard Reset is sure to shake up the shooter scene.
In the only remaining human city of Bezoar, Major Fletcher, an Army Combat Veteran and soldier of the CLN, is dragged into a conflict between two of mankind’s greatest enemies. He is to discover that nothing is what it seems to be.
Flying Wild Hog took the PC community by surprise in August 2011 by announcing the impending release of their PC exclusive cyberpunk shooter, Hard Reset. The most shocking part of this announcement was the release date which was less than two months after the teaser trailer was put on display. The trailer provided in-game footage with a glimpse at some of the action and impact on your opponents lively-hood when paired with Hard Reset’s weapons and explosive objects littered throughout the industrial inspired levels. Whether this lack of long-term hype is beneficial or not to Flying Wild Hog moving forward is yet to be determined, I for one have a distaste for ridiculously early announcements and I am interested in hearing why such a short time frame for a release window was decided on.
As Major James Fletcher, CLN operative, you are tasked with fending off the relentless assault of the machines who have breached the walls of Bezoar and infiltrated mankind’s last home. The corporation that funds your missions doesn’t let you go out empty handed however.
You have two weapons at your disposal that are capable of being upgraded to allow for alternative firing modes and heavier ammunition types. Additionally, you can have electronic implants installed on yourself to increase your physical capabilities in areas such as shield regeneration and an increase in your maximum life total. Item drop pickups contribute to the currency total required to redeem these upgrades at stations scattered throughout Hard Reset’s single player only campaign. You’ll probably find a weapon/upgrade you’re most comfortable with and stick with that until the machines give you a reason to think otherwise.
While two weapons seems low in count, the upgrades provided expanded the capabilities to feel like they were many more. Throughout the campaign I found myself favoring the rifle and its upgrades over the plasma weapon, but swapped them out in a pinch depending on my ammunition totals and strength of the opponent I faced. I spent most of the early upgrades augmenting my body to allow for quicker shield recharge and to maximize my total health. In my opinion, these provided long term benefits when compared to an alternate firing mode that wasn’t much more effective on most machines. The projected HUD system where upgrades are purchased was implemented in a way that felt true to Hard Reset’s cyberpunk setting while being unique and most importantly a pleasure to navigate efficiently.
There are a few upgrades that were almost completely useless, such as the ability to zoom in for long ranged attacks and a radar like blip that allows you to see where enemies are in relation to your position. I didn’t find myself in a situation where zooming was beneficial throughout the entire game. The action was also so fast paced when in the middle of a fight, I found it distracting to try and look at the bottom left hand side of the screen while circle-strafing around enemies to see what the radar blip had to say. This was more detrimental to my short term health than a boon to my strategy when in a fight.
Most of the level designs in Hard Reset are uninspiring industrial hallways and streets. These areas are littered with many more explosive objects than seems realistically possible for a formerly heavily inhabited section of Bezoar. Streets and hallways are also rife with trash cans, crates and vehicles of futuristic design that only serve the purpose of providing cover and blockages in maneuverability when facing rushes of machines. The engine itself provides the means to deliver a stellar dark cyberpunk setting and I can’t help being interested in the next iteration if or whenever we see one.
Hard Reset has quite a few secrets, many of which can be found by simply finding the similarly looking cracked walls to blow up. There are much less interesting ones and sometimes you’re dumbfoundingly rewarded with finding a secret for going around a typical hallway corner; something encountered with a normal sweep of a level. Still, others take much more creativity to get to and you may find yourself walking through air ducts, which is weird because you normally would crawl through something like that. There is no crouch mechanic in Hard Reset but you are capable of running. You will be tempted to duck into passages with heights that exist just below your eyeline and in those spots be prepared for a fight.
The audio in HR does a great job of building up tension for battles and also provides something interesting to listen to in between the waves of swarming machines. Most of the voice acting is below average and occasionally the tone of the voice does not fit the dialogue’s intensity. The story unfolds in two primary ways. In-game audio clips and in-between level animated comic panels that are reminiscent of The Maxx series from MTV in the mid-1990’s, but with a much more washed out blueish gray palette. These convey the story well enough.
Enemies come in hard and fast and there is very little variation in the foes you will face from the first level through the last. Hard Reset is not a long game and only has a few boss battles that provide little challenge for those with competence in fast paced FPS’s. Some of the boss fights I would even compare to the Omega Supreme boss fight in Transformers: War for Cybertron but with much less strategy required in being successful and a much less capable enemy AI.
The story ultimately feels like a small sliver in a much grander tale and builds up excitement for something that never really happens before the credits begin to roll. Hard Reset feels like a complete package overall but also seems a bit like a scaled down game from what they may have originally been planning. If you haven’t figured it out yet, the story is not Hard Reset’s strong point; Serious Sam fans will know where this title will take you. The action in HR is fast and relentless throughout with only a few moments to breathe while the tension begins to build yet again. Hard Reset is a blast fest with a small side of story and ends up tasting pretty good.