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Hard Reset

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Action
Publisher: Kalypso Media
Developer: Flying Wild Hog
Release Date: March 2012

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.


PC Preview - 'Hard Reset'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on Aug. 21, 2011 @ 5:57 a.m. PDT

Hard Reset transports players to a haunting, dystopian future, with humanity on the verge of extinction, confined to its last standing city and under constant threat from the robotic hordes that aim to annihilate mankind.

With Flying Wild Hog studio containing such talent as previous members of People Can Fly, creators of the Painkiller series, it should be no surprise to learn the genre of Hard Reset. With a futuristic sci-fi noir setting, the game casts you as a lone soldier in a city absolutely infested with murderous robots and bio-mechanical abominations. It plays like a modern Painkiller in how you have tons of firepower to use and certainly no shortage of targets to wield it against, but wrapped in a modern package complete with a stellar engine and updated gameplay mechanics. We checked out a limited build of the game that kind of skipped through various areas of the story, but if the final game scales the same way, Hard Reset has a lot going for it.

The story line is presented mainly via interlevel cut scenes, shown in a moving comic book format. The presentation seemed a bit rough and was scarce on some details, but the gist is that you play as a soldier in an organization tasked with protecting and keeping the peace in a sprawling human metropolis. At the end of a shift, your soldier suddenly finds himself fighting off a massive robotic army that has invaded the city and began tearing into the human population. Armed with a pair of very advanced firearms, it is your job to take back the city and fight off the insane amount of enemies between you and that goal.

It seems limiting that you'd only be able to use a pair of guns in the entire game, but keep in mind the background of the developers. Each gun has multiple modes, such as the ballistics gun, which starts off as a chain gun and is upgradeable into a shotgun, grenade launcher and rocket launcher. The electric gun is similarly upgradeable into a total of four different modes, bringing the total weapon count to eight. What simplifies the weapons is that all of a gun's modes share a common ammo pool: red ammo for the ballistic gun and blue for the electric. Certain modes may take more ammo to fire than others, but you essentially have some ammo for all guns, though if you fire big shots like a rocket, which takes a good chunk of it, you had better use it effectively.

One downside of these morphing weapons is that it can be difficult to tell which mode the gun is currently using. Switching modes only causes subtle changes to the weapon's appearance, such as the tip changing from one barrel tip to two or another part growing larger or smaller. Once you get used to the weapons, it becomes less of an issue, but even by the end of the preview build, we were wishing for some other means to know what mode the guns were in. With some enemies or situations more appropriate for one weapon type than another, proper weapon selection can be quite important.

Whatever weapon or modes you find yourself using, you will have no shortage of targets. The grungy streets and buildings are teeming with a variety of enemy types, ranging from tiny little bipedal bots with a front-mounted saw blade to larger bots that charge at you like a bull. At the end of the build, we had to face down a giant robot in a boss battle, which was a lot of fun but hopefully not the only encounter of its type in the final game. Once dispatched, bots will sometimes blow into physics-enabled pieces, bouncing around the environment as others charge forward.

To help you take out these foes, you don't have to use direct fire. Scattered throughout the environment are various electronic terminals and other devices, signified by blue lines and coloring. When shot, these devices emit an electrical discharge as they short out, and they damage or kill any nearby robots in a modern revision of the old explosive barrel standby. Of course, those red barrels can still be found to shoot and deliver a powerful explosion, but the electrical devices can be better, as they often electrify an area for a short while and can take out any robots passing the area during this time.

The environment bears mentioning, both for how well the engine portrays it and in its design. Everywhere is absolutely seeped in science-fiction noir, from the design of the enemies and the buildings surrounding you down to the advertising terminals that show holographic ads for pills to increase one's vigor. Occasionally, giant billboard barges float by with colorful advertisements while a cute female voice touts them in some other language. It's a constant mix of high technology and grunge, interspersed with equal parts of bright happy colors and displays of general hopelessness.

While the story didn't make much sense out of context and the weapon modes were sometimes indistinguishable, Hard Reset is definitely set to deliver some solid gameplay. The setting has absolutely nailed its unique design, containing far more detail than you'd normally find in your standard one-versus-many shooter. The title simplifies some areas while deepening the gameplay of others, and the end result is a game that you would be wise to keep an eye on as we get closer to its release later this year.

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