Released nearly five years ago, the reception to Flying Wild Hog’s Hard Reset was mostly positive, with its budget price and old-school no-nonsense first-person shooter gameplay winning over a legion of fans.
It did however have a few problems that were hard to overlook, such as a disappointingly short campaign and a frustratingly erratic difficulty level. After numerous patches and a free expansion though, most of its issues were ironed out, making it a much more fulfilling experience.
Despite being made by a small independent developer, Hard Reset was a bit of stunner in terms of looks when it was released too, with its cyberpunk stylings and dystopian setting working together to create a dark, dangerous and heavily industrialised world full of details to admire and objects to destroy. It fact, it was probably its snazzy visuals that prevented it from being ported to consoles at the time, but now we have the power of the Xbox One and PS4, Flying Wild Hog have decided to revisit Hard Reset once again, presenting console and PC owners with Hard Reset Redux; the ultimate version of their breakthrough hit.
Playing on Xbox One, whilst the visuals aren’t as impressive as they were many years ago, Hard Reset Redux still looks pretty good. There’s some jagged edges here and there and a few dodgy textures, but on the whole your eyes will be happy. The framerate holds up well too for the most part, but towards the end of the game’s six- to eight-hour campaign there are a couple of instances of slowdown that hopefully will be rectified with a patch or two. Don’t get me wrong however, the game remains perfectly playable; the framerate issues are just a minor blip in what is otherwise a very solid port-job. In truth, the only technical issue that did sour my Hard Reset Redux experience somewhat was the occasional short pause in gameplay during moments of downtime, instances which I presume are necessary for the game to load subsequent parts of its admittedly large levels.
Unsurprisingly for a first-person shooter that wears its old-school stylings like a badge of honour, Hard Reset Redux’s gameplay is rather generic; simply a case of getting from point A to B, killing everything that stands in your way. It’s this simplicity that makes it such fun though. There are no puzzles to solve or maze-like environments to navigate, just some light exploration as you strive to find secret areas and a hell of a lot of shooting. It even has a few epic boss fights against gargantuan enemies that are sure to please even the most ardent of first-person shooter fans. Just don’t go into it expecting anything from the rather forgettable and tacked on story; it’s not particularly coherent or engaging.
Hard Reset is very unique for a first-person shooter in that it technically only has two guns; a standard assault rifle and a fancy looking plasma rifle. By killing enemies and searching the environment however, you can collect Nano, a resource which can be used to unlock new firing modes for each gun as well as a host of other character building bonuses. By the end of the game you’ll have access to all the standard armament you could wish for, such as a shotgun, grenade launcher and proximity mines, as well as a range of more exotic weaponry like a railgun, smartgun and the electricity spewing blaster. There are numerous upgrades for your gun toting-avatar too, including maximum health, shield and ammo bonuses. You don’t ever get to the point where you feel overpowered, as each upgrade offers only a small benefit, but cumulatively they sure do help.
Rounding off Hard Reset Redux’s arsenal is a new addition for this edition; a cyber-katana. That’s right, whilst the original Hard Reset had no melee options whatsoever, this version allows you to slice and dice your enemies with a rather lethal looking sword. Unfortunately though, it feels like a pointless extra thrown in as a nod to Flying Wild Hog’s excellent reboot of Shadow Warrior. Hard Reset was never designed with melee in mind, and whacking its robotic enemies with a finely honed sheet of cold steel is both unrewarding and mostly ineffective.
The many robotic enemies encountered in Hard Reset Redux are actually both its strength and weakness. Whilst they are unique in design, giving the game its own character, the fact that they are indeed chunks of metal rather than flesh and blood often makes your weapons feel ineffective and underpowered due to their unflinching nature. Of course, blasting pretty much anything with a rocket results in a nice explosion and a hefty amount of destruction, but anything less occasionally feels a bit uneventful. More effective though, is manipulating your environment to cause massive damage. Areas are often full of explosive barrels or electrical equipment that can be shot to blow up and fry your foes with reckless abandon. One area even lets you crush your enemies by drawing them into machinery. In the end then, whilst your weapons may not be wholly satisfying, the general level of destruction and mayhem that occurs throughout your adventure is.
With a healthy amount of rebalancing, all the content from previous releases, a new enemy type, and a new dashing manoeuvre to make avoiding enemy attacks that much easier, there’s plenty here to keep Hard Reset Redux pretty fresh for those who played the original, although those new to the game will possibly appreciate it more. Also, while many may consider its six- to eight-hour campaign running time a little short, keep in mind that there are four difficulty modes, a new game plus mode, the extremely punishing heroic mode and a leaderboard-enabled survival mode for added longevity. There truly is a lot of old-school single-player only first-person shooter gameplay here for fans of the genre.
It’s unfortunate for Hard Reset Redux that had it been released just one month earlier, I would have had no qualms about singing its praises loudly, but with DOOM still fresh in my memory its gameplay seems just a tad stale in comparison. They’re both silly mindless shooters in which you shoot first and never ask any questions later, but DOOM is faster, looks nicer and feels more invigorating and rewarding to play. At less than half of DOOM’s RRP however, it’s undeniable that Hard Reset Redux offers a massive amount of bang for your buck. It may not be as polished or entertaining as id Software’s recent masterpiece, but Flying Wild Hog’s Hard Reset Redux still has a lot to offer, especially to those that have finished with DOOM and seek more exhilarating balls-to-the-wall action.