Hard Reset: Hands-on preview

Hard Reset is a futuristic first person shooter that has appeared out of relatively nowhere and attracted itself a little bit of attention over a short period of time. Created by Flying Wild Hog (the Polish development studio made of up creatives who worked on the likes of The Witcher 2 and Bulletstorm), Critical Gamer was able to sit down with a preview build of the game to see what it’s about.

When first dipping into Hard Reset it was a little obtuse about what exactly was going on, forcing us to go looking elsewhere for the finer details. However, a basic amount of plot is conveyed via comic book style cutscenes before, during and after levels.

You play as a man named Fletcher in a somewhat dystopian city of the future called Bezoar. In a mixture of concepts remarkably similar to the likes of The Matrix and Blade Runner, the enemies of the game are Artificial Intelligences running amok, attempting to access The Sanctuary (a collective hub of human personalities that left their bodies and became digital). The reason for this (as best we could work out) is that there are distinct limits as to how advanced AI can become, and only by accessing The Sanctuary can these limits be transcended.

Fletcher works for The Company and is tasked with protecting The Sanctuary (though in monologue he explains that he only does it for the money). The game begins with Fletcher being informed that attacks on humans have been reported in a district of the city. This is where you are thrown into control and begin exploring Bezoar.

The first thing that will strike you (assuming your PC can handle it) is that with the visual settings set to the absolute highest Hard Reset is a good looking game. From the murky streets to an abandoned hospital there is distinct character with a heavy Sci-Fi flavour. It feels a little devoid of life (save for the enemies) but is highly interactive with destructible or moveable scenery littering every street.

A standard FPS HUD displays health, armour, and ammo for your currently equipped weapon. Within the preview build we were given a large machine gun and also an energy weapon that fired bolts of electricity. Both these weapons only had a basic left-mouse fire system until upgraded using N.A.N.O found around the levels. These can be used to upgrade weapons (the machine gun can be given a faster firing rate and zoom, the energy weapon can gain a charge-up shot and regenerative ammo) as well as Fletcher (increased health, armour, etc.) and other more advanced HUD features (making the radar display enemies or hinting where hidden caches of N.A.N.O are located).

Fletcher only needs to take a few steps before his first encounter with one of the enemy AIs. We were exposed to a few different types across the four or five sections we played. The smaller types (which come in flying, cutting or exploding form) favour a swarming tactic and will often rush at you numbering no less than four. There are also medium sized gun wielding bots and larger ape-like robots which move quickly and enjoy ramming you across the room.

While being swarmed by a dozen small bots backed up by a large one charging right for you can be a little daunting and challenging, we did find that there was a lack of intimidation or sense of fear. This was probably down to the design of the enemies being quite adorable. The little AIs look like Robot Wars rejects and the larger ape-like ones with their glowing green and red sections and crooked faces were borderline cute. Sure they were all trying to kill you, but it was hard to take them seriously.

Progressing through the preview largely consisted of moving from one orchestrated battle to the next, having an area to play with to your advantage each time. Numerous electronic appliances litter the street that can be hit to send out shock-waves to damage enemies, as well as explosive canisters or easily flammable vehicles. There were also some basic puzzles (find the power supply to shut down a barrier, turn a valve, etc.) but these did not seem central to the gameplay at all.

After raiding the streets and making our way through an atmospheric deserted hospital scavenging old AIs as we went, we were tasked with taking down an Atlas statue which had been mechanically altered. Needless to say we were not surprised when we approached it and it sprang to life. Towering high above us firing rockets, lasers and summoning swarms to nibble your ankles, it was a fair challenge to eventually bring it down. Upon raiding the corpse of the giant machine and the discovery of a revelation that more may be going on, the preview ended there.

Hard Reset is a good looking, interesting mix of concepts built on solid (albeit generic) FPS traditions. The preview build we played was just a small taste, but Flying Wild Hog’s project deserves some attention as it nears a swift release. We do hope that in the full version of the game the story is more easily conveyed (at least to begin with) and that some intimidating enemies make an appearance later on (not just bosses).

Hard Reset will be released September this year as a PC exclusive.

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Written by Ian D

Misanthropic git. Dislikes: Most things. Likes: Obscure references.

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