Hard Reset PC Review
Stepping away from the story and focusing on Hard Reset's actual action, Painkiller's influences step even further to the fore. Hard Reset's main schtick is to suddenly unleash swarms of weaker enemies on to players, occasionally alternating to smaller groups of tougher enemies that must be fended off with an increasingly outlandish arsenal.
Fletcher's battle is made easier by the fact that the robots are all stunningly ineffective, however, with many enemy designs apparently based on those from Serious Sam. Charging bull-bots and suicide bomb-bots are the most commonly seen foe, though bi-pedal buzz saws and giant jockstrap-wearing statues also make an appearance. Enemies that attack from range are oddly rare, however - isn't this supposed to be the future?
While the robots may suffer a conspicuous lack of laser beams, however, Fletcher isn't so restrained. Instead, he has two weapons at his disposal, each of which can be upgraded to fulfil a number of different functions, many of which then also have alternate firing options.
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It's a set up which seems needlessly convoluted at first, but which makes a lot more tactical sense when held against Hard Reset's tendency to throw enemies at you in sudden rushes. Only then, when players learn to leave their electrical NRG weapon in Mortar mode and carry their mechanical CLN gun in their hands, does the intent become clear; to force players to switch back and forth between weapons constantly.
Unfortunately, this tactical element stands alone in a game which is, for the most part, actually characterised by 1990s-style design tropes and mindlessly incongruous level design. Bezoar City may be the last bastion of human civilisation, but a quick stroll around its streets confirms that explosive barrels and wild arcs of electricity are still doing well for themselves. The entire city is a death trap of destructible walls, upgrade terminals for lethal weapons and one-way forcefields that can't be passed until you've destroyed their power-supply.
Honestly, it's a wonder why the robots feel the need to kill the humans; give them a few weeks and they'll do it themselves.
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While it's easy to poke fun at Hard Reset and find issue with the predictability of its 1990s-style design though, it also means the game is incredibly easy to have fun playing. Charging down the city streets, ferreting for secrets and spamming grenades onto literally faceless enemies feels appreciably familiar, and it's clear that this is what Flying Wild Hog Studio has aimed for; an old-school FPS with cutting edge graphics.
Graphical appeal and an old-school badge can only take you so far before they start to wear thin, however and, with no multiplayer and a higher-than-expected price, Hard Reset hits that point a few hours in. By the time the game you've completed a quarter of the game, old school fans will be pining for larger arenas and something more challenging than bosses with glowing weak spots. Meanwhile, those less set on reliving the glory days will be stuck plugging on through a pretty, but poorly told adventure of bot-crushing mayhem.
Hard Reset's main strength lay in its graphics and its consistent delivery of combat which, while moreish and dully enjoyable, lacks the precision or scale of its competition. Thus, while it's a solid game that delivers on a pure blow-stuff-up basis, it doesn't have quite the level of inspiration or finesse needed to make it stand out from the crowd.