Remember when First Person Shooter games were simple? “There’s a Nazi! Shoot him!” “Oh look! A Demon! Shoot it!” “Oh, he got you! You’re dead!” The genre has developed considerably over the years, though; gone – for the most part – are the days where your sole goal was to blast everything that moves. Now, we have detailed plots, involved storylines and twists that will make your head spin. The combat is immersive and you have to think tactically, making sure that every shot counts. This is a great thing; we all love a little drama and a little thought in our games. It is nice to see the genre evolving. But sometimes it’s also nice to go back to basics. Sometimes we don’t want to think too hard or to make hard moral choices. Hard Reset: Redux is there for you in those moments.
Hard Reset takes the FPS genre back to its roots in an explosive way. Don’t think too hard, just pull the trigger and let carnage ensue, destroying wave after wave of robotic enemies. It’s positively cathartic.
Action is very much the focus. The story of the – short – campaign is played out in cartoony cut scenes at the end of each level. These can be skipped, and you might as well; there’s really not much of a story here, but do you need one? When robots are trying to kill you and you have the means to stop them, why pause to look for deeper meaning that’s just not there? Just shoot. At the robots.
Your mechanical aggressors are varied – albeit on a theme of ‘murderous robot’ – with some differences in size, strength, attack strategy, and propensity to explode. This last comes in handy if you manage to set off a chain reaction whilst avoiding being caught in the middle, by either luck or judgement. Some will shoot and dodge, others are archetypal bullet sponges. And none of them come alone.
There are bosses, too – ridiculously powerful machines with earth-shattering weapons and (naturally) glowing orange weak spots. While the rest of the game encourages attack, bosses require a bit of patience and some pattern learning. Old school.
An all action FPS like Hard Reset lives or dies by the guns on offer and here there are two distinct classes of weapon, and both are formidable. The first offers classic firepower in the form of familiar weapons like assault rifles and shotguns. Loud, meaty, shooty guns. The second class, though, is an altogether different beast. Here, the power of electricity is harnessed to destroy your robotic assailants. One example of each can be equipped simultaneously, switching between the two with a single button press. Weapons are upgradable, too – one nod towards a more modern design – and given the ferocity of the foes railing against you, those upgrades are soon needed.
While a story doesn’t seem a comfortable fit for Hard Reset, Survival Mode certainly is. It seems that the modern shooter is incomplete without a horde/firefight style mode, and Hard Reset is no different. Here, though, rather than feeling like something tacked-on, this is the game that Hard Reset always wanted to be. Shorn of the pretense at a cohesive narrative, wave after wave of enemies gleefully hurl themselves into combat until you are forced to fall back under the sheer weight of numbers. Brilliant stuff. Games of survival take place on any of the levels that you have completed in story mode (the only compelling reason for playing through the story).
The levels themselves lack visual variety but are pleasingly urban and grimy. The Redux in the title earns you all the expansions previously released for this five-year-old PC shooter, which goes some way to adding some much needed campaign bulk as well as different things to look at. And blow up.
This is a pleasingly old-school shooter that has learned just about enough over the last few years to stay – more or less – relevant. Operating in roughly the same space as the excellent DOOM, there’s not that much up its sleeve (more robots, probably) but this simple shooter does have charm. And you get to explode robots with big guns. How can that not be fun?
Hard Reset: Redux is available now from the Xbox Store priced £15.99
A back-to-basics shooter with just enough under the hood to make it worthy of consideration.
Hard Reset: Redux is a repackaging of the classic 2011 PC First Person Shooter, along with all of that game’s DLC. If you like to think about your gaming then this might not be the game for you, but if you’re after a no frills, no-though point and shoot romp, it’s certainly worth a look. Come on – who doesn’t want to just blast robots into oblivion?