War of the machines.
First person shooters are starting to come back en vogue. With the recent successful reboot of Doom and Blizzard stepping into the arena with Overwatch, the genre is seeing some of its best action in years. Hard Reset was a game that came and went without a lot of people noticing, but it is also the game that put developer Flying Wild Hog on the map, and eventually led them to create the excellent Shadow Warrior reboot. Now the game is getting a second chance on consoles with Redux bringing a new visual coat of paint, rebalanced action, and even some new enemies and weapons.
Hard Reset is a student of the old-school design of shooters. The action is fast, there is no reload button, and the best strategy is going to be circle-strafing. This is also a campaign-only shooter, and a short one at that. There are leader boards and a new game plus option, but once the brief campaign is over, I felt little reason to go back for more.
Platforms: XB1, PS4
Price I’d Pay: $14.99
There are only two weapons in the game, each with a dedicated button for switching between. Instead of offering an arsenal Hard Reset instead gives players attachments to their weapons, essentially making them new weapons. This is a neat idea in concept, but in execution it becomes cumbersome fiddling with the weapon wheel to switch between the shotgun and machine gun attachment when dealing with enemies. I ended up finding one that worked for most occasions, and stuck with it.
The enemy variety is also slim. The Redux version does add some new types, but a large bulk of the game is spent mowing down the same collection of robotic foes. Their AI is also simple, spending the majority of their time simply bum-rushing players, which is of course standard for shooters of this type, but also feels dated. The strategy to take them down never changes, so I guess it is good the campaign is brief, as the repetition sets in quickly.
The shooting feels good, but the lackluster enemy design doesn’t do it any favors. Also for a console shooter I recommend turning off aim assist. It really got in my way more than it helped. The biggest issue I had with the actual game play is that it was rarely satisfying to take down an enemy. Bullets don’t have a good impact when they hit, and none of the guns or attachments feel fun to shoot. The game quickly devolves into a shooting gallery in the most mundane way.
The story of Hard Reset is told during loading screens with comic book panels dubbed over. Nothing about the story is memorable; the characters are boring, and even the game recognizes players would rather be shooting. When loading is complete, a large swath of text blankets the screen suggesting the proper action: skipping the cut scene.
At least the world itself is pretty to look at. It is a futuristic, neon-lit environment where it always seems to be dark and raining. Visually the game looks great and runs at a solid frame rate on consoles. It is a pretty game, which is easily one of its most impressive features.
I wanted to love Hard Reset Redux, especially after coming off Doom, which had scratched that 90s FPS itch I have almost annually. There just isn’t enough here to satisfy. Gunplay feels weak, enemies are boring to kill, and the world wears out its welcome quickly. Nothing about this game is overly offensive to the senses, but it just never stands out from the pack either.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.