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Hard Reset Redux (PC) artwork

Hard Reset Redux (PC) review


"Painkiller: Blade Runner Edition"


While many will it write off as a late-bloomer of Next Gen re-releases, Hard Reset Redux is a return to form. For what it offers to rebalance the game the experience is definitely the "definitive" version though not exactly the way it was meant to be played. As great as Reset is, however, I feel as though the Redux is more of a content update than what we come to expect from remasters. There are improvements elsewhere such as performance--as well as questionable "missing assets"--but with how great the classic game ran on potatoes to Titans these changes are very subtle.

Let's Not Mention the E-Word

If you are not already aware, owners of either Shadow Warrior (2013) or the original Hard Reset can purchase this game for 85% off as a lifetime guarantee. I don't mind "rebuying" games if previous owners get some discount or worthwhile content. Redux does just enough to not bother me with the price but I do feel for a remastered game it's lackluster.

HRR offers added features and an entirely rebalanced game for the price. You are essentially getting features like Quicksaves, a new Engine with subtle changes like quicker load-times, the dash mechanic and sword from Shadow Warrior, and a MUCH better performance in an already excellent optimized games (average of 300+ FPS), Many of these features seem like a content update. I am no programmer, so I can't begin to fathom any coding issues that I am oblivious to but that's how I come away from the whole debacle.

Hard Reset Redux (PC) image


As for graphical changes, they are so small you have to be nitpicky to find them. Some of these changes have been called into question like the dynamic lighting, and others are vast improvements like the fire effects. FWH has addressed any "downgrade" issues here: http://www.pcgamer.com/hard-reset-studio-addresses-redux-graphics-complaints/

Painkiller: Blade Runner Edition

For those who do not know, FWH was founded by former members of People Can Fly who made series like Painkiller. Add a little more Philip K. Dick's Blade Runner to the mix and you'll get something along the lines of Hard Reset. This information is important because when people describe HR as an old-school FPS it's not a DOOM-clone where you are scavenging ammo and exploring maze-like environments. Instead, you'll always have a surplus of ammo and be a linear set of arenas. HR is more akin to Serious Sam or Painkiller with a few innovations of its own.

HR's most important innovation is its two-weapon limit with multiple functions. In total, you can unlock a full arsenal of ten with your two ammo pools: A ballistic/grenade rifle and an energy gun. Finding nano-points to unlock upgrades provides some level of progression and overall "choice" with your playstyle. These weapon modifications range from simple stat changes to more interesting options like EMP Fletchers for a shotgun or a gravity-pulling grenade, or even the stasis-field mortar round. All these options give you something to look forward to and no weapon feels entirely worthless, but you should invest upgrades into both guns to use both ammo types.

Hard Reset Redux (PC) image


What I can say about this system is that it never feels cumbersome. Weapon functions for each gun can be switched out with the mouse-wheel or number keys. It's confusing at first but it becomes natural later. Although I say you have "choices" with progression, you'll most likely unlock everything by the end. And because certain weapon functions are gated behind other functions, the extent of your choices means little except for the beginning.

HRR adds a cyber-katana taken straight from Shadow Warrior, and aside from the coolness factor of the weapon it doesn't offer much else for use. (You get it from the get-go on Insane or Heroic Mode.) Many enemies in HR do splash/explosive damage, and only the mooks or new "cyber-zombies" offer any reason to pull it out to kill them quickly. I don't bemoan its inclusion but I have to wonder why it's here. But there's another problem with its inclusion. If you play the game with the default controls it's a monkey-katana thrown into your controls, Literally. The default weapon-cycle button includes the sword, and if you want to switch between your guns it leads to another button-press (and second) to get to your gun. The simplest solution to this problem is to set key-bindings for each weapon individually. While it does add another few keys to memorize it will improve your experience, so it's not a game-breaking issue.

What I do find lacking about the cyber-katana's inclusion is the lack of upgrades. Upgrades that could focus on weapon-synergy (like using the sword in the stasis field for extra damage) or for a particular playstyle are missing , which seems odd when the other weapons in HR are just fine. Again, the new weapon is fine on its own but it is severely underdeveloped. It showcases a problem of FWH understanding many things for how to make a great FPS, and yet making changes that aren't balanced by the rest of the game.

Hard Reset Redux (PC) image


Bunnyhopping? Meet Buttsliding

Perhaps the other questionable aspect of HRR is its change of difficulty. I am of the camp that likes the new balancing act; I don't find it too demanding for casuals nor too lenient for hardcore players. However, it is clear to me that the game doesn't feel designed around its new mechanics, specifically the dash-maneuver. The challenge of the original was of maintaining both a spatial awareness of the battlefield as well as the distance between from enemies. If that sounds too technical, it's simply don't get stuck in a corner.

Your character's movements were slow, and you had to lower your weapon to move faster. Enemies moved faster than you, but not too fast to give you time to react and were dumb with their AI. Weapon modifications primarily focus on imbolizing enemies, slowing them down, or keeping them away (like sticky bombs or grenades). Although the sponginess of enemies was an issue and some arenas were too small, the game's difficulty felt like it understood itself. The same cannot be said for HRR's changes.

The biggest new inclusion is the dash mechanic. You can chain together lengthy dashes to get serious distance away from (or up close to) enemies. I consider this a change for the better--however, I do wish there was a stamina bar to balance it. The mechanic does its job for lowering the barrier for entry while raising the skill required to get good. I am frankly so used to its inclusion that I cannot go back to the original. However, this new change arguably breaks the game's difficulty. The enemies' AI is still as dumb as before, and now you can exploit it; their health is far smaller and their damage to you is weaker too, thus you can zig-zag all you like. The old game simply wasn't made for it, and some fans of the original may not like how "easier" the game has become.

Hard Reset Redux (PC) image


Some might argue that this alone doesn't make this the "definitive" (the way it is meant to be played) version. I wouldn't go so far as agree with this opinion but fans of the original might not feel the same.

Same Old Reset, Same Nostalgic Call

Outside of these new changes, the same merits and problems of HR are found here, especially the story. It is sparse, cheesy and nonsense in the end; it serves its purpose but the ending has not been reworked to be less anticlimactic. As for the game itself, I do appreciate FWH taking the time to polish their past. I don't feel like it was a cash-in but FWH trying to address criticism.

Anyway, to summarize you should get Hard Reset Redux: If you were interested in playing HR before, then you'll probably enjoy this game more than hardcore fans; if you didn't like the old difficulty, then you might enjoy the Redux for what it changes. If you didn't like HR at its core, resetting again won't change a thing.

4/5

Brian's avatar
Community review by Brian (August 04, 2016)

Current interests: Strategy/Turn-Based Games, CRPGs, Immersive Sims, Survival Solo Games, etc.

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