Game Review: Hard Reset – Redux (Xbox One)

I could hear the clanging of their robotic feet behind me, dozens of small killer robots and their large junk gorilla brother behind them. Bright neon lights fill the street, various signs as far as the eye could see, their light reflecting on the shiny robot horde behind me. I took out my sword and slashed away at the tiny razor sharp robots in front of me. I managed to take out six or seven before the junk gorilla charged at me. I fired off a shot missing him by a mere inch, the round taking out another one of the tiny little robots.

I swapped to my rocket launcher and fired, he saw it coming and dodged it, the round hitting a generator, the electrical explosion filling the street, taking out the remainder of the small army. I used my dash and dodged his incoming charge and turned around to see another junk gorilla charging at me. I looked to my left and right, explosive barrels everywhere, just my luck. I timed it right so that they both charged me at the same time, dashing out of the way and turning around to face them. They were right next to the barrels as I fired into them, a chain reaction of fire and electricity consumed them.

Hard Reset: Redux is a fast paced action shooter that requires quick thinking, fast reflexes and the ability to know where in the environment the nearest explosive barrel is. It was unfortunate that Flying Wild Hog released this so close to the release of the new Doom game, as the shadow cast by that behemoth is pretty hard to crawl out from under. However, with Hard Reset: Redux’s low entry price of $19.99, it’s a fantastic bargain despite its shortcomings.

Redux is an upgraded remaster of the 2011 release, Hard Reset. This version also contains a DLC chapter built into the main game. I never played the original, so knowing what is new or changed is something I am not aware of.

You play as Major Fletcher, a man who drops the F bomb in almost every cutscene. He is part of the CLN, a combat unit taskforce set to protect the last human colony, Bezoar. The world that Hard Reset gives us is one where humanity is on the brink of extinction, due to the threat of an AI that has taken over the world. Fletcher is sent to investigate a breach into the city, but the mission goes sideways and Fletcher is caught up in the middle of a shocking truth that will change his world forever.

I discovered Hard Reset: Redux like many of you will, via the digital store on my console. It’s available on Xbox One, PC and PS4, but I hadn’t heard much about it until I saw the graphic on the storefront. Upon checking out screenshots and random video’s made by the community, I was hooked. The experience lasts around 6-7 hours and can easily be beaten in just a few sittings. While the game has some issues and some technical shortcomings, a lack of action is not one of them. You’ll blast your way through many different environments, kill thousands of robots and enjoy each and every guitar riff that blasts through your speakers as you do so.

The enemy variety is nice and Hard Reset: Redux does a fantastic job of easing you into the different enemy classes. You have a few variations of smaller and mid size enemies, taller more hulking types, and then flying types that mostly attack from a distance. There is a nice selection of bosses throughout the game, with the final one just being incredibly fun, trying to make him inhale blue EMP barrels that litter the battlefield. Some enemies respond better to certain weapons, so finding the right combination of weapons and baddies can be fun to try out. The smaller and less explosive enemies are great to take down using the sword, a weapon you earn fairly early on. Even the taller more damage focused enemies can be put down with some fancy footwork with the sword, it’s rather thrilling to pull off.

Through a use of a currency to level you up, you can unlock and upgrade a variety of weapons. You start with a basic rifle and plasma rifle and can upgrade them to transform into rocket launchers, shot guns and rail guns. There are more variations to unlock and while they are fun to use, the weapon wheel hardly ever accepts the right weapon and I would often be holding my shotgun when I went to select my grenade launcher, it lead to much frustration. It also doesn’t help that the weapons almost all look exactly the same and I never knew what gun I was holding until I would fire it. You can also upgrade various other abilities including a dash mechanic that is extremely essential to survive. This game has some great progression to make you a lean mean robot killing machine and should you discover the hidden caches of currency scattered around, you’ll have more than enough points to find something in the upgrade stations to wet your whistle.

Visually the game isn’t going to win any awards, but it does have a nice look to it. Some levels have some nice details to them that make the game look quite striking. The wet streets especially look great with the neon lights reflecting on the ground. The later sections near the end of the game in the barrens have some fantastic detail to them and some areas can look really great. Cutscenes in the game are told through an animated comic with some small animations within them. The level design and style reminds me of something between Blade Runner and Judge Dredd, just simpler.

Despite the fun weapons, excellent enemy variety, there are some noticeable flaws here that sour the experience somewhat. There is no mini-map, which makes finding where you need to go rather puzzling, usually having to rely on the hint window that will pop up essentially saying “Over here, stupid.”. The story can at times feel like it’s just there to keep pushing you from room to room and only coming together when you’ve reach a certain area. I like the conversations between Fletcher and his supporting cast, I just wish he was more vocal when putting down robot critters over and over again. I also found it quite puzzling that you cannot crouch, despite there being a lot of small openings that are just begging to be explored.

I had a great time with Hard Reset: Redux as it hit all the notes I wanted it to. The game has great moments of action, good pacing, and some really enjoyable boss battles. While the story and its main protagonist aren’t fantastic and can be somewhat forgettable, the times I would decimate hordes of robots in huge explosions, are not. Shooters, years ago, were not played for their story, and this is the same approach as those games of long ago, dressed up in the trappings of something a bit more modern. The recently released Doom has about as much story there as this game does here, and that’s quite fine with me. Plus, how many games allow you to blast the crap out of robotic street cleaners? Not many, I would imagine.

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