excellr8's Hard Reset (PC) review

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New Studio Delivers Great Throwback

I can recall a time when first person shooters and PC gaming came hand in hand; where games relied on simple core gameplay mechanics. While it's obvious that the majority of today's shooters have come a long way from their corridor roots, once in awhile someone who appreciates the old formulas churns up a little piece of gaming nostalgia. New Polish developer Flying Wild Hog has done just that with their new cyberpunk-themed shooter Hard Reset. Using many old-school FPS mechanics, Hard Reset is a true throwback and tribute to some of the classics such as Doom and Serious Sam. While it totes some subtle RPG elements and character development, Hard Reset is a modern shooter with classic film and game inspirations. It's both a breathe of fresh air and a flashback to when PC games were less complex and arguably more fun.

In Hard Reset, players take control of Major Fletcher, a cyborg security specialist who is sent to quell an army of out of control robots in the huge Blade Runner-esque metropolis of Bezoar. The core shooting is centered around two transforming weapons, one ballistic and one energy based. These two weapons are unique in that they have the ability to change from one type of weapon to another on the fly. For example, the CLN kinetic weapon can be both a heavy assault rifle or shotgun depending on upgrades and the NRG energy weapon can be used as a regular plasma rifle or a high-powered railgun. These are just a couple of different functions that either gun can be upgraded to and the best part is there is no need to reload. Just find ammo pickups and blast away... at everything! The environment will be one of your best allies as you fight savage robots, and using your surroundings will make crowd control a lot easier. That's basically all you need to know as far as strategy goes. Basically, just blast the sh** out of everything you see.

The robots in Hard Reset are actually pretty aggressive, and there's definitely no shortage of targets. You will face hordes of these mechanical foes as you progress through the game's story, which is delivered through the use of comic strip cut scenes. While not terribly engrossing, the plot of Hard Reset is written well enough to hold your attention and will keep you pressing on. However, the presentation of the story is a little diluted considering how overdone other parts of the game are... I'm referring to the menus of course. I won't take away any points for that though, because someone at FWH really put a lot of effort into making the most dynamic main menu I've ever seen. The in-game menus are impressive as well, and the overall visual presentation is quite sharp. The game's art-style is truly unique and paints a picture that is reminiscent, albeit much darker and violent, of something cooked up by DreamWorks or Pixar in a CG film. The obscure and somewhat whimsical robot designs add originality and help the game stand out in the vast sea of similar FPS titles.

Overall Hard Reset packs quite a bit of punch in a small and affordable package. Obliterating legions of bloodthirsty bots is more fun than you'd think and traversing the vast cityscape is never boring. Everything explodes and tears apart so nicely and leaving the metallic streets strewn with chunks of scrap and other robo-parts is truly satisfying. The action is broken up by small puzzle segments and there is also a small degree of exploration along with many secret areas and items to uncover. I think every type of FPS gamer will find something to enjoy in Hard Reset, and it's easy to recommend for anyone that misses the classics as much as I do, or is simply looking for a modern throwback to play. The game is incredibly easy to pick up and the low price tag is very attractive. There's really no reason to not play it if PC is your primary platform of choice for FPS. The game's system requirements are very mild and the game should run fine on most machines with dedicated graphics. Plus, it's PC-exclusive... something that is becoming quite rare.

Considering that Flying Wild Hog is comprised of some former People Can Fly developers, it is no surprise that Hard Reset shares some familiarities in design with games such as Painkiller (obscurity) and the newer Bulletstorm (action). The new team has done a noteworthy job piecing together this little trip through a dystopian future and you gotta respect the marketing strategy as well, very bold. I can't think of any better way to announce a new project then when it's nearly complete. FWH has been developing Hard Reset for a few years, but has only recently shed any real light on the project. That's pretty rad if you ask me, and hopefully this new studio continues to surprise the gaming community with more great games... behind or before the scenes; Hard Reset is a very promising jumping off point.

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