Hard Reset: Extended Edition Preview
The original, downloadable version of Hard Reset won plenty of fans with its great-looking, proprietary engine and its unique take on FPS combat. Throwing players headlong into a Blade Runner-style dystopia, the game then armed them with a pair of zany, chameleon-like weapons. With a a flick of the mouse wheel, your rifle can become a shotgun, and then a grenade launcher. Ditto the its partner, a versatile energy weapon that shoots everything from simple plasma bolts to powerful homing missiles.
Praised for its beautiful graphics and old-school gameplay, Hard Reset was sure to attract the attention of publishers. Kalypso Media stepped into the fray, working with Polish developers Flying Wild Hog on Hard Reset: Extended Edition, a boxed product that will offer an improved engine, new enemies, new environments, and more backstory. Most crucially, five new levels will add three hours of gameplay, taking the total playing time up to around eight hours.
My time with the Extended Edition began with a crash course in the basics — scrolling between weapons to meet different tactical challenges and luring the game’s robotic enemies toward environmental dangers like exploding barrels and short-circuiting transformers. Once I had a feel for the game, some quick work in the dev console whisked me into one of the new levels.
Kalypso employees on hand touted the more “organic” feel of the Extended Edition’s content, which ushers the game’s hero outside of the original version’s exclusively urban environment. I did notice a tinge of green creeping into the game’s sumptuously rendered levels, which reminded me of the kind of post-industrial jungle seen in games like Bionic Commando or Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (see also SWTOR’s Taris). A lot of the action seemed to take place on giant trash heaps that were slowly being reclaimed by the surrounding vegetation.
New enemies were tougher to identify, thanks in part to the frantic action, though Hard Reset’s many robotic adversaries do tend to blend together. My demo time ended with me fighting off waves of angry ‘bots inside a machine that resembled a giant Dispose-All — whirling blades cut through an overhead light source, casting psychedelic shadows. It was a white-knuckle encounter that challenged me to push my two weapons to the limit, and it showed off Hard Reset’s core concepts — graphical wizardry and throwback shooter gameplay — very nicely. Circle strafers and cyberpunk junkies take note: if you missed Hard Reset when it came to Steam this fall, consider the Extended Edition — provided, of course, that the price point is reasonable.