When developer Flying Wild Hog released their cyberpunk first-person shooter Hard Reset last September they gave PC gamers an action-packed romp through a world inspired by The Matrix and Blade Runner. A major complaint from players and critics was that it was too short with a mere four or five hours of play time. In July they put out an expanded edition along with a free DLC pack that expands the world of Hard Reset.
The game doesn’t spend much time on story-telling. Rather it focuses on frantic action in the style of old-school mindless first person shooters. And there’s nothing wrong with that! It’s fine that developers and players can set their pretentions aside on occasion and simply revel in the act of blowing up robots.
Hard Reset also uses any excuse to show off its game engine “Road Hog” with the endless amount of stuff that gets blown up. There are the standard exploding barrels and fuel cans, plus canisters of compressed gas that will scuttle around a while before detonating. However the cyberpunk theme also gives excuses to flood the levels with electrical devices that will all give off bolts of electricity when shot.
Apparently, in the future, the auto industry will have some very lax safety regulations because cars blow up quite easily. The developers have designed the levels so that these blowupable items are everywhere, and they are spaced so that chains reactions can be set off easily for lots of chaotic firefights. In fact some enemy types are exploding Kamikazi-bots that can be used to bring down their peers.
Hard Reset deviates from other shooters by giving the Player just two weapons. However, each of these can be upgraded RPG-style to have four other modes. One of the guns is a machine gun that can eventually be transformed into other projectile-based weapons like a shotgun, or missile launcher.
The other gun is an energy weapon that gets a stranger selection of alternate modes like homing projectiles and a sniper rifle that shoots through walls (With a handy X-Ray scope). In total there ten firing “Modes” between the two weapons and some of these have multiple forms of attack.
When engaged in combat, Hard Reset is exciting and challenging, however it has a completely disposable story. This is told through comic book style images with limited animation and lackluster voice overs. Once on a mission the voice work drops to just the occasional NPC icon appearing on screen telling the player to go flip a switch somewhere on the level.
Players control a cyborg cop named Major Something er other. It doesn’t really matter what this guy’s name is because he has no personality and only seems to know two words: “What” and “Fuck”. During the cutscenes he’ll either demand more information from NPC’s or profanely whine about having to go kill more robots.
But the pointless story doesn’t affect the actual meat of this game, and Hard Reset is a great product for FPS gamers who want a solo experience. It doesn’t have any multiplayer features, but there is a survival mode and several difficulty levels, plus the option to replay using different gun upgrades.
Unfortunately, when the game released, it could be beaten in an afternoon. The developers listened to the criticism and added in five new levels that extend the gameplay by at least three hours. These missions continue from where the original “Story” left off and take place in new locations with a couple of new enemy types.
The new enemies are a very welcomed addition because there were only about five basic enemies models in the original version. The new bad guys include flying drones that only use ranged attacks, and this shakes things up from the original game which generally put the Player up against swarms of melee combatants.
There aren’t any new weapons or upgrades, but the original game was too short for players to earn every upgrade, so the extra levels will give dedicated players the opportunity to try more of the existing upgrades.
Hard Reset Extended Edition nearly doubles the content and shakes things up a bit with the new robots and locations. It will offer a weekend’s worth of stuff to blow up for shooter fans who don’t need multiplayer, or a story. It’s available now via digital distribution, and players who bought the original version of the game can download the new levels for free as Hard Reset Exile.