Robots are the worst, right? Drinking oil, developing sentience, dating humans in animated trailers for Overwatch…yeah, something needs to be done about the robotic menace. If you feel like standing up and introducing excessive force to anything made of metal, well, have I got the game for you! Hard Reset Redux is here and it’s a robot-wrecker’s dream.
Hard Reset Redux is actually the third iteration of the cyberpunk shooter, with the original being re-released as Hard Reset Extended Edition thanks to the inclusion of the Exile expansion. This is the definitive version of the game by far thanks to the improved graphics and gameplay, so if you haven’t tried Hard Reset yet you’ll want to go with this one.
Hard Reset has you controlling James Fletcher as he blasts the crap out of tons of robots and cyborgs. That’s the lion’s share of the gameplay; sometimes you’ll run around and push buttons on consoles to open the way to the next group of mechanical monstrosities to vaporize, but that’s pretty much it as far as the cerebral aspect of the game goes. If you’ve played Serious Sam, you’ve got the idea. As for the plot, uh…it exists, but this isn’t going to be the next Citizen Kane of games, despite the game’s insistence on plopping cutscenes between each stage. There are bad robots. You should shoot them. Repeat until you’re done.
Blasting said robots is accomplished via the game’s two weapons – the CLN Firearm and NRG Weapon, which dispense hot lead and zappy beams respectively. By default these are largely similar assault rifle style weapons, with the NRG Weapon’s non-hitscan blasts rendering it slightly less effective than its counterpart, but it’s not long before you get the opportunity to upgrade your arsenal. Both weapons can unlock several alternate functions, like a shotgun and grenade launcher in the Firearm’s case and a railgun and energy mortar for the NRG Weapon.
Upgrades are earned by defeating enemies and finding pickups and can be spent to upgrade Fletcher himself as well, adding more health and other perks. You’re largely free to upgrade in whatever direction you’d like, and choosing the weapons that best suit your playstyle is key to success. Redux adds a third weapon as well, an energy katana that provides a helpful boost to your close-range effectiveness, along with the ability to quickly dodge in any direction which is drastically helpful for staying alive.
There are a fair number of different foes to defeat, but you won’t need to come up with many fancy tactics beyond picking your favorite gun for the moment. Enemy strategy revolves around either charging up to you to bash away, self-destructing to deal damage from close range or staying at range and firing at you. Sometimes you’ll even have to deal with a combination of the three! As you’d expect from a shooter that owes so much to the old-school classics, staying on the move and whittling down the hordes is usually the way to go.
Hard Reset Redux looks fantastic for what it is; even the original wasn’t exactly ugly, and the Redux version polishes things up just enough here and there to make the game stand out. This is still a several-years-old game, so it’s not going to out-pretty something like Doom (2016), but it’s certainly gorgeous enough. Meanwhile, the sound design consists of the usual cyberpunk-y music and robot destruction noises you’d expect. The between-level cutscenes all have a nice hand-drawn look, but the story isn’t really relevant so it’s unlikely you’ll pay much attention to them regardless.
Fans of old-school shooters could do much worse than Hard Reset Redux, particularly since owners of the original Hard Reset or the Extended Edition get a significant discount on the remaster. There’s probably a piece that could be written about the modern trend of selling this sort of remaster for any amount at all, frankly, but as it stands this isn’t a waste of money by any means. If you’ve got some sort of vendetta against robots, you should probably see a professional…but also check out Hard Reset Redux.