Backloggin’ – Hard Reset

So yeah, this update should have been out yesterday, but that… didn’t happen. I blame a fresh college term and my often inhibiting procrastination habits.

But hey – for once, this update is short n’ sweet, clockin’ in at only two games. It’s weird because I should be actually playing more video games since college just started this week and the accompanying workload hasn’t quite kicked in yet. Yet, I haven’t really been playing anything – probably because I’m still a little burnt-out from Winter vacation, and also because I’m in one of the lulls in-between major games where I don’t really feel like spending a lot of time with a specific title.

Still, I beat Hard Reset – a throw-back shooter of sorts that I pulled the trigger on during some Steam sale a long-ass time ago. That game was pretty fun. But first, numbers!

Current statistics:

bl_1_10_2013

Last week’s statistics:

bl_3-1-2013

Changes:

  • Beat count up by one.

Beaten games since last update:

  • Hard Reset (Steam)

Keep readin’ for, you know – the good stuff.

hard reset 1680x1050

Okay, first of all, I promise that this game is much more interesting than this image makes it out to be. Just take all your assumptions about this rather bland-looking image of a guy with an electronic eyepatch and throw them right out the window, because this is a hardcore game about shooting friggin’ robots.

Hard Reset was interestingly developed by some ex-People Can Fly employees, the guys behind the deliciously brutal demon-slaying series that is Painkiller. Some obvious parallels can be drawn here between the two games – both set out to kind of re-create that classic mid-90s FPS style where the enemies are plenty and ammo is more than abundant. You know, the really, really kick-ass kind.

Hard Reset operates on a much different set of rules than Painkiller, though. First of all, it’s set in a dystopian sci-fi future where robots suddenly decided that humans really aren’t that great and should probably be driven to extinction… or something. The whole plot kind of gave me an “I, Robot” vibe, but I really had no idea what was going on with the story at any point in the game. It’s one of those things where they give you a very brief history lesson as to what’s going on, and then BAM! – you’re in.  On top of that, all of the dialogue has that really cryptic, between-the-lines, I’m-a-smartass kind of quality where no one is ever clear about what they’re doing or what they think. Needless to say, I gave up trying to follow what story there was here pretty early on.

Besides, Hard Reset isn’t really a game that sits you down and tries to tell a good story. Really, it’s a game that sits you down and tells you to shoot robots – which is really where all the enjoyment comes from.

And, well, just like Painkiller, the combat here is generally a lot of fun. You can speed through levels at your own pace, or slow things down at bit and take more time to find secrets and really enjoy the scenery. I actually felt that the excellent graphics felt “out of place” in this game, if that makes any sense. For such a fast-paced shooter, I felt bad about running through environments without really stopping to appreciate them. In this way, they were almost kind of distracting, like some kind of visual seduction, as if the game was purposely trying to slow me down by having me speed through its amazing dystopian future world without once falling prey to its wonderfully crafted neon-cityscape and striking skylines. But Hard Reset makes it clear that it is, at heart, an old-school shooter by displaying a level time at each area’s end and by giving you more points on the basis of a faster time.

Hard-Reset-screenshots-4

The gunplay works a lot like you’d probably expect – although Hard Reset makes one little change that throws things off quite a bit. Most old-school shooters include a sizable arsenal that grows as you play through the game. Eventually – and quite miraculously, I’ll add – your character is able to hold more than five guns at once, and the game quickly turns to being about firing away at your foes, plugging away bigger ones with rockets, and ridding yourselves of the smaller ones with quick shotgun blasts. Naturally, this kind of fast-paced gameplay demands a quick-weapon switching system. Most old-school shooters know this, and they deliver – with a quick scroll-wheel push or number-key press, you can switch freely between eight or more guns like you’re Doctor friggin’ Octopus – so yeah, it works.

Unfortunately, Hard Reset manages to mess up this long-since traditional mechanic. That’s because in the game, you essentially only ever have two weapons, both of which can be upgraded to feature different firing modes. However, while this sounds cool and the upgrade system does send you off nicely in the direction of collecting and discovering more secrets, the whole thing just comes apart when it comes to weapon switching. Because now, instead of scrolling through weapons effortlessly, you have to switch from one to another and then switch again from there. So essentially, one little extra step that ends up throwing the gameplay off completely. It may not sound like much, but hear me out. When you’re being shot and attacked by robots on often all sides, let me tell ya – it trips you up. I never felt like I couldn’t play the game because of it, but it definitely screwed me up countless times throughout the campaign.

Other than that, though, Hard Reset is pretty enjoyable. It’s not as fun as say, Serious Sam or even Painkiller, sadly, but it mostly succeeds at what it sets out to do. It’s reasonably polished, features some of the nicest sci-fi environments you’ll likely ever see in games currently, and it captures the pure, irresistible charm of the old-school FPS quite well, providing rather addictive, fast-paced, adrenaline-infused gameplay. That one design decision is Hard Reset’s only real visible flaw, seeing as how the shallow story is quite easy to overlook given a game of this type – but even that considered, there’s plenty of flashy, explosive robot-killing fun to be had here.

Oh, and by the way, this game? I think it deserves this little seal of recommendation, if you will:

dubstep_way_its_meant_to_be_played

And, well, that’s it for this update. What will happen next update? I have no friggin’ clue, dude. But if I had to guess… probably something to do with video games – I’d say that much is for certain.

Have an awesome week. Robot-thrashing and oil-spilling? Optional.

-rav4ge

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