I’ve always been a console gamer. Tons of titles have graced the PC that sound interesting to me, but they are quickly forgotten once hope of a console port fades away. With the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and their more modern PC architecture, I have a renewed hope that less and less PC games will fail to make the transition to consoles. Cult classics such as Shadow Warrior and Lichdom: Battlemage are just a few of the previously PC-only titles that have made their way over to these newer consoles, and we’re seeing more and more games release across PC, PS4, and Xbox One. While Lichdom: Battlemage’s awful console port left a bitter taste in my mouth, Hard Reset Redux seemed poised to remind me that these new consoles can perfectly handle running PC games released several years ago. I’ve always been interested in checking out Hard Reset, so you can probably imagine the feelings of dismay that arose as I started playing and the flipbook quality frame rate began to chug along the moment swarms of mechanical enemies and explosions flooded the screen.
Title: Hard Reset Redux
Release Date: June 3rd, 2016
Developer: Flying Wild Hog
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Hard Reset Redux is a remaster of the original game and its Exile expansion from 2011. Set in the steampunk city of Bezoar, we’re introduced to our protagonist, Major James Fletcher, who is meeting up with some co-workers at the pub before an explosion sends him back into the field to investigate and track down the person responsible. Upon discovering the culprit, a chain of events sends Fletcher off on his own investigation as he uncovers information that causes him to question his employer’s intentions.
Bezoar proves itself to be quite the diverse city as Fletcher makes his way through mean, robotic-enemy infested streets full of destroyed and dilapidated buildings. I found myself just stopping to take in the scenery in-between enemy encounters. Perfectly blending a dark, murky feeling of oppression with some impressive environments really gives Bezoar a distinctive life of its own. It provides for some memorable levels as players progress through the story.
As the destroyed buildings would lead you to believe, the mechanical enemies who oppose you are out in full-force. They’re here not only to stop you from reaching your objective, but to prevent you from enjoying the game as well. Rather than simply offer a few sporadic enemies here and there, Hard Reset throws waves of baddies at you around seemingly every corner. Armed with an assault rifle and a plasma gun, Fletcher will spend the entire game mercilessly mowing down dozens upon dozens of robotic dogs with saw blade heads, mechanical zombies, and other technological terrors. Worse yet, there are several instances throughout the game where these little exploder guys drop down on you unexpectedly, almost guaranteeing that you will meet your untimely demise. It’s tough to describe the enemies in this game, but you’d be hard pressed to find an actual list that names the different threats you’ll come across, either in the game itself or online. In fact, the only enemies that do seem to have any kind of name attached to them are bosses and certain mini-bosses that award trophies for their quick defeat.
As waves of enemies start frequently bearing down on you, the game’s performance begins to suffer. At best you’ll notice some frame rate dips, especially if there are several guys exploding in the environment. At worst, the game is nearly unplayable – most notably as the frame rate takes on a flipbook-like quality during the final boss fight. What this says about the perceived power of these newer consoles has me scratching my head as this nearly 5 year old game has as many performance issues as it does…but I digress.
When the performance isn’t hampering the experience, there are some really cool things on display. I enjoyed how each boss encounter is unique. Sure, they may share the same method of elimination – shoot the weak spots – but the strategy required to be successful varies between each boss. Yes, you’ll still be swarmed by waves of enemies throughout these battles, but the scale and thrill of bringing down these mechanical giants is one of the few highs you’ll come away with when playing Hard Reset Redux.
To take on these giant machines, you’re going to need some serious firepower. Upgrade nodes can be earned throughout the game by collecting enough material known as N.A.N.O., a substance which is obtained as a pickup around the game world. Those who choose to explore each area of Hard Reset a little more thoroughly can seek out the hidden stashes of N.A.N.O. tucked away throughout the various levels. These valuable nodes can be used to purchase not only new abilities, but new weapons as well. Rather than becoming completely different weapons in their own right, your assault rifle becomes a shotgun with a simple press of the d-pad (or through your weapon wheel that L1 brings up), for example. You can cycle through your various upgrades on the fly, although the weapon wheel may be more efficient in a pinch. I found trying to quickly cycle between my grenade launcher and shotgun to be detrimental to surviving an onslaught by some of the tougher enemies.
Fletcher’s quest to seek the truth is one that starts out interesting as the story unfolds over a comic book-style narrative. While the narrative is nothing earth-shattering or original, the story at least kept me interested enough. Well, up until its extremely weak conclusion, that is. There’s a noticeable shift in storytelling quality once players begin exploring the Barrens, which I can only assume is the setting for the now-included Exile DLC content. I’m guessing this was meant to give players a proper conclusion to what was probably an abrupt ending after the second boss fight originally. Regardless, those looking for a strong story will be greatly disappointed, and likely confused, once everything is said and done.
Hard Reset Redux is a game that is very much a product of the time in which it was originally released. It feels like an old game and it hasn’t aged well. From the countless waves of enemy shootouts, to its awkward dash/sprint mechanic, Hard Reset fails to compare to its contemporaries today in nearly every respect. Yes, I understand it’s a remaster of a game from 2011, but even at that, there is nothing here that is nostalgic or memorable enough to warrant revisiting, especially given the titles available to gamers today. Sadly, engaging boss battles, badass weaponry, and some of the most impressive level design around just can’t overshadow the poorly told story that’s glued together with endless waves of the same enemies that are more of a nuisance than a challenge. Add in the inexcusable performance hiccups that will quickly put a damper on any fun you may have in Bezoar, and you’ve got a game that should have stayed where it belonged in 2011.
A PlayStation 4 Review copy was graciously provided to us by Gambitious Digital Entertainment.
- Interesting level design
- Boss fights are fun and intense
- Cool weapon mods
- Being swarmed by the same enemies gets old quickly
- Performance issues during key moments
- Disappointing story