There have been few games over the past years that have tried to bring the the old school FPS route for today's gamers. Flying Wild Hog, who has pulled folks from The Witcher 2, Painkiller, Bulletstorm, and Sniper, is putting out
Hard Reset, a moderately priced FPS . What Flying Wild Hog has come up with is an OK first person shooter that shows the potential of the team.
Hard Reset is strictly a single player experience, something different in today's day and age of online gaming. It's a short 4-6 hour experience with a paper thin story and some good visuals.
You play Agent Fletcher on a mission to defend the city of Bezoar from the machines. As you play the game, the rest of the story is presented to you in a nice stylistic comic book layout, but to be honest, it was hard to follow. I tried to get interested in the story but after about a fourth of the way through, I just pretty much skipped the confusing narrative. The story does hint of something bigger for your character, but it never pans out. Perhaps it’s all a setup for a potential sequel.
Fletcher has a shield system and a health bar. Like current shooters these days, your shield will regenerate when not at 100%. Unlike most current shooters, your health in Hard Reset won't and it's up to you to find green health packs to heal when under 100%. It's a nice little combination of both schools of thought when it comes to a player's health.
Unlike most shooters, you're give two weapons: one that shoots ammo and one that shoots energy. Both can upgraded to fire different projectiles as well as adding a secondary firing option. Through picking up NANO from either grabbing yellow crates or killing enemies, you'll be able to go up to a station to improve your weapons or yourself. After I picked up the mortar option for my energy weapon, I pretty much used that the rest of the way. It was the most effective way to dispatch the hordes and the secondary firing option of slowing down enemies proved the easiest way for me to get through all but the boss battles. While the mouse wheel scrolls through each firing mode of each weapon, you can't cycle around when you reach the end or beginning, which resulted in few avoidable deaths.
Each weapon works off of a different ammo set so you'll be stocking up on either of them as the game goes along. You won't run out of ammo though as they regenerate, but only to a certain point and it can take some time. That's why it's important to pick up ammo caches along the way and some of the enemies you destroy will leave them as well.
The upgrades offer you a nice variety of firing modes to play with. From the explosive yet slow loading RPG to the smartgun that lets you see through walls, the weapon modes give you some good differences between each one. While I used the energy mortar as my primary go to tool of destruction, the railgun and smartgun came in handy in certain situations as well.
Just like one of the inspirations it draws upon, the game's environment has a very Blade Runner feel to it. Large neon billboards, interactive terminals, dingy streets, and a very limited color pallet offer up a grim world to wander around in. Visually, the folks at Flying Wild Hog have done an admirable job at producing a stylistic future to do battle. Unfortunately, the city that you'll be walking through, even though it's the only remaining human city left, is vastly devoid of any inhabitants. So, anything you meet up against in the game will be an enemy and that's it. Yes, it's like how old school FPS games were with just waves of enemies coming at you, but some visual representation of a few stragglers would've added to the atmosphere of the game and offered up some variety to the empty barren world.
While the environment's visually appealing, you'll have a pretty limited path through the game. Yes, you can do some minor exploring, but it's just small deviations from the main path. Also, there are just a lot of tight spaces to fight in and you'll find yourself trapped a lot with hordes of robots coming at you. It's not uncommon to walk into an area, see a group of them coming at you, and find yourself backed into a corner because the path that got you there just closed up right behind you. It did get me frustrated at a few parts and it seemed to happen a lot more than it should. Expect a lot of times being stuck while trying to dodge the horde coming at you and dying quickly when they overwhelm you.
The engine does offer up some minor destructible environments but that seems to be reserved for the larger robots. Don't expect something that looks pretty solid, like a concrete column, to be safe cover as there could be a robot that barrels through it and onto you. Even though there aren't too many of these around, there are enough instances in the game to keep you on your toes and change up the area you are fighting in.
Hard Reset does lack a variety of enemies to fight against. What you see in the first few levels are what you get, minus the few boss battles Because of that, you'll be able to figure out how each of the enemy robots are going to attack you and what strategy works best against them. The designs of the robots are pretty cool though and like the environment, are crafted by some pretty talented people at Flying Wild Hog. It's too bad there aren't that many in terms of variety, but what you do get are visually nice to look at.
All the enemies are pretty quiet when they approach you and at the beginning, you'll constantly be taking damage from a few that sneak up on you from the side or behind. Once you choose the enemy radar upgrade, that will help you deduce where they are coming from so you can prepare yourself a lot better. But I still had plenty of times where I shook my fist in anger because I died from a silent robot sneaking up on me.
You do get some pretty cool little scripted events with the small robots though as you progress through the game. Every once in a while you'll see a robot run away and knock something over. It's quick and adds a little bit to the atmosphere of the game.
The boss battles aren't too bad and each one is a little bit different in terms of what they are. Most are ended by attacking certain points at certain times, but each was a little bit of a different experience.
I grew up with old school shooters so I was used to circle strafing and being constantly on the move. As you come upon the wave of enemies, you'll be utilizing those old tactics that got you through the olden days in order to stay alive. If you don't enjoy fending of waves of enemies while constantly running for your life, then you won't enjoy Hard Reset.
As I said earlier. Hard Reset isn't that long of a game. I played on normal throughout the entire time and was able to finish it in about four hours. There's little to no replay value other than to try and beat your best score between levels at a higher difficulty. And because there's no multiplayer, you'll probably just be done with it once you complete the last mission. Still, at $30 it's not too bad of a value if you're looking for a very hard and old school type first person shooter. The graphics are pretty good, but there are a few design decisions that can and will probably leave you pretty frustrated. I'm looking forward to what the folks at Flying Wild Hog have next up their sleeves as their first outing isn't too shabby.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
For a throwback FPS, it's not too bad and it's priced at $30. The graphics are pretty well done, but there are some aspects of the game that can get pretty frustrating. Expect to die a lot as well since your health doesn't regenerate, but your shield does.
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