Giving a first-person shooter that “classic” feel can be difficult to master. You want the player to feel fast and powerful. The guns need to feel unique and pack a punch. The enemies need to be aggressive and keep the player moving. It’s these basic ideas that Hard Reset Redux gets right. Sadly, there isn’t much else to the game.
The story of Hard Reset Redux takes place in a world where humanity is on the brink of extinction. Machines have declared war against mankind and are working to take control of “The Sanctuary,” a large network of digitized human minds. You play as Maj Fletcher, a soldier of CLN, who is fighting back to protect the city. While this all sounds like it could be interesting, it is told through comic book panels and low-quality voice acting. This ensures that you will probably forget the story just as soon as you’ve witnessed it. In the developer’s defense, story was meant to take a major backseat to gameplay.
Gameplay is kind of a mixed bag in Hard Reset Redux. Admittedly, the character movement and camera movement felt rather floaty at first. However, after adjusting the controls in the options menu, the controls felts fast, smooth, and responsive. There was one minor glitch that involved the camera slowly panning to the right, but this was only really an issue when trying to upgrade your weapons at one of the upgrade stations.
Speaking of weapons, Hard Rest Redux actually does something pretty unique. Instead of slowly revealing a large variety of weapons, this game only features two, the “CLN Modular Assault Rifle” and the “EEF-21 Plasma Rifle.” This may sound boring. In fact, at the beginning of the game, it definitely is. However, as you gain experience points, you are able to unlock various add-ons that provide you with goodies like a shotgun or homing missiles. These additional add-ons greatly improve the combat mechanics and really open up your playing strategy. It should be noted that some of these upgrades are extremely overpowered, so we recommend starting your file on “Hard” rather than “Normal.” All the weapon variations pull from two separate ammo caches. While novel at first, it becomes harder to keep track of your ammo as more powerful weapons use up much more ammo per shot. With ammo being in such an abundance, it becomes nothing more than a minor annoyance.
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Smooth gameplay can often save games with a lacking storyline. And for a moment, it actually seemed like it was. Sadly, the level design throughout the game will make you feel like you are stuck in a level that just won’t end. For the first level or two, the world seems great. Think of Neo Tokyo mixed with Rapture and you’re headed in the right direction. There is trash in the streets, spaceships whizzing overhead, and bright neon lights to draw your attention. This only becomes a problem when 80% of the game looks the exact same. It isn’t until this final 20% that you finally get off the streets and into a subway station, hospital, and more. The game actually began to feel much better towards the end because it finally felt like the character was going somewhere.
Surprisingly, the most entertaining part of the game are the secret collectibles in the form of extra experience. While the payoff is minor, it’s finding these secrets that really kept me going. Some might just be down a different hallway or past an explosive wall, but eventually, there some locked behind pathways that make you feel like you’re exploring out-of-bounds. This feeling has been lacking from many modern games and it was fun to have that classic feel of almost “hacking” the game.
Hard Reset Redux is not a game for fans of the 2011 original. The visuals remain largely the same and there are few changes outside of that. There is a new “Cyber-Katana,” but it is immediately proven useless since many of the smaller enemies run up to you and explode. Additionally, your character now has a fairly useful “dash” mechanic that makes dodging enemies a breeze. Even with these additions, as well as different enemy placements and the included DLC, this port mainly seems to exist to bring the game to consoles.
In our experience, there were a number of technical glitches that vary from minor to game-breaking. As mentioned earlier, the camera had a bad habit of panning slowly to the right, making options harder to go through. There were also many moments where the screen would flash different camera angle for just a few milliseconds. It wasn’t really enough to effect the gameplay, but it definitely was noteworthy enough to point it. The only truly game breaking glitch happens on the final boss of the DLC. Without spoiling anything, we noticed that there were too many enemies spawning up in the balconies of the arena. This was an area you couldn’t jump up to, and the enemies would largely stay up there. These enemies didn’t add any additional challenge, but they would eventually prove to be to taxing on the game’s engine. First, the enemies would stop fighting you and gather in groupings, eventually piling on top of each other. Then, they would freeze their animations. If you weren’t fast enough with clearing them out, the your weapons would lose the ability to fire, including the katana. We found that the best way around this is to turn off the game, re-load an earlier save point and remember to kill the excess enemies.
If I were to describe this Hard Reset Redux in two words, it would be “aggressively mediocre.” Most of the game really isn’t that bad. In fact, the shooting and the controls themselves feel really good. Sadly, it’s the bland level design, forgettable story, and repetitive enemies that make this shooter drag on. If you’re looking to return to the classics, we highly suggest sticking with the classics themselves. There is a lot more going on in Wolfenstein or Doom than you’ll ever find in Hard Reset Redux.