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Hard Reset

Score: 78%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Flying Wild Hog
Developer: Flying Wild Hog
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: First Person Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

Hard Reset is set in a futuristic world that's worn itself to pieces. Like the gritty world of Blade Runner that's been the base for so many imagined futures, Hard Reset is dirty, overgrown, with metal and concrete everywhere. There are even occasional announcements in Japanese over a loudspeaker, if you needed another reminder of how futuristic this is supposed to be (the future is always Japanese). There are plenty of flashy, lit-up billboards, and plenty of bright holographic machines around to break up the bleakness, but of course their messages of "buy, buy, buy" only serve as another kind of pollution.

The cinema scenes are still the kind of rough, conceptual sketch style we saw in the demo. Voice acting hasn't improved either. It's that kind of line-by-line reading style that doesn't really work to build the story or motivations behind characters. There's angry Fletcher, then there's macho Fletcher. There's angry Corporation people, then there's slightly less angry Corporation people. There's not much else on the emotion spectrum.

The background noise during gameplay is kept low. Most of what you hear is the occasional low note of music, along with all the buzzing from electric devices, trash moving along the street, or the music from a seedy nightclub. All the better to surprise you when you hear the whir of a machine starting up here or there, crashing it's way on a course straight to you.


Gameplay:

My hopes that the story would be fleshed out a bit since the demo were a bit dashed. Well, a lot dashed, actually. The story is the same: Fletcher is a gun for hire for the big generic "Corporation." He protects people from the machines, or he protects their digital memories from machines, or... Look, he really hates machines, and you really need to hate them too. Actually there are little hints here and there that flesh out the world a little bit. It seems that there is lots to buy in the future: clones, body enhancements, and various other pleasurable things. But one thing stands out as particularly special; You can pay to have the neural network store a copy of your mind. It's touted as "immortality." But it still seems like the machines are attacking physical bodies, not the digital ones, and that's what the Corporation wants to minimize. Enter Fletcher, machine slayer.

The little reminders of the decadence and excesses of this future world are a little overt. Signs everywhere point to sex, drugs and partying. "Live to shop" and "I shop therefore I am" are a couple of the things you'll see in the digital ads around the city. If you ever needed a reminder that this is a world that ruined itself through excess, that classic sci-fi warning is practically plastered all over this game. The gritty, metallic look to everything can get a little monotonous. It's one thing that had me glued to the billboards in the game, looking for something different or entertaining.

But Fletcher's not here to admire the view. He's here to dispatch the nasty machines. They seem bent on slaughtering as many people as possible. Fletcher tries to match numbers in property damage. The machine varieties are a little lacking. There's basically your small horde like rolling bots, big damage-dealing tanks, and a kind of humanoid robot that shoots back at you aggresively.

There's plenty of weapon and armor upgrades to obtain. The guns are mainly divided between plasma and traditional bullet based stuff, but you can tweak them with upgrades. Some of the upgrades like big area affect plasma grenades will get the job done, then there are also paralyzing electric fields, and temporary barriers to play around with. There's also ammo capacity upgrades for practicality. If you're quick enough, you can probably get by with environmental explosives when you're in a bind, so most of this stuff is just icing on the cake.


Difficulty:

Hard Reset steers you toward using your environment to take down enemies when things get overwhelming. Things get overwhelming a lot. At first, you're not given quite enough ammo to run and gun your way through every level. Finding secret areas will help you replenish, but using the environment helps even more. You can tap a car a few times if you wan to set it to explode in a few seconds. Time it right and you can take out a horde of enemies. Similarly, there are little electrical stations all over. If you hit these, they'll arc out and hit anything that comes past them.

If you're a seasoned first-person shooter, Hard Reset will probably need to be racheted up a few notches if you want a real challenge. On Easy, you've got enough of a challenge for shooter newbies to feel satisfied with.


Game Mechanics:

Hard Reset functions quite well as a shooter. Everything you need on the keyboard is in the right place, easy and intuitive to get to. Of course, you can change the keyboard bindings if you wish. You can really do almost everything on a single weapon, and you can switch between weapon modes with the scroll wheel on your mouse. For me, I like not having to frantically scroll through the number keys to find the perfect weapon for each situation. This game definitely lets you specialize if you want. One thing that's a little strange is that Fletcher can't seem to crouch, but I'll chalk that up to him just being so angry that his knees won't bend.

Things that you want to work without thinking about, like autosaves, do work flawlessly. It's clear when it's happening too: the screen dims and a little CD icon spins in the lower right. Overall, Hard Reset is a quite functional, quite decent shooter. I personally would have wanted the cinema scenes to be a bit better, and the story and world to be a bit more compelling. And overall, the ideas here aren't very fresh, but they're executed nicely. But if you want a fast-paced shooter, with stuff to blow up here and there, Hard Reset has it.


-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

Minimum System Requirements:



OS: Windows XP/Vista/7, Processor: 2.5 GHz Intel Pentium 4 / AMD Athlon 64, Memory: 2 GB, Hard Disk Space: 4 GB free hard drive space, Video Card: 512 MB NVIDIA GeForce 8800GS / ATI Radeon HD 3870 or better, DirectX(r): DirectX 9.0c, Sound: DirectX Compatible
 

Test System:



Windows 7, 3.20 GigaHertz Intel Pentium 4, 3 GB Ram, GeForce GTX460 768MB, Creative SB Audigy 2 ZS

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