Hard Reset is PC FPS gaming from the past. It's Quake 2, Serious Sam, and Painkiller rolled into one. Flying Wild Hog's well-received PC shooter from 2011 is now on PS4, Xbox One (and PC as a cheap upgrade if you own the original or Shadow Warrior) in Redux form, bringing with it tweaked gameplay, 'improved' graphics, and all the extra content found in the extra levels the studio added to the PC game back in 2012 - plus a new katana.
Your first few moments playing Hard Reset Redux will likely go like this: 'This looks rather dated... fuck, that's a fast-moving small robot thing with a spinning blade!... actually this looks pretty nice when shit is blowing up all over the place... shame the frame rate tanks a lot on Xbox One.' Flying Wild Hog's game feels old, yet is sprinkled with elements only possible in modern game engines. This mainly comes from the lighting, which is excellent, albeit often a bit too green.
There is a story, levels linked by comic-book style cutscenes that tell us that something is going on and you're right in the middle of it, but it's instantly forgettable and mostly just filler to make the pauses for loading more tolerable. This isn't a game about story though. It's a game about taking a shotgun, railgun, grenade launcher, electricity blaster, plasma rifle, or cool neon sword and smashing some (mostly) robotic enemies up in a hail of pyrotechnics. Or using those weapons to blow up a barrel to send your foes flying across the arena.
You face big robots, small robots, weak robots, incredibly strong robots, super tall robots, flying robots, robots that leap out of shipping containers, zombies (that are a bit robotic) and it's all a lot of fun. But samey. A lack of visual variety doesn't help things, the core levels found in the original release (before new content was added) could be one massive level, and the design is so, so familiar – a kind of Blade Runner meets Deus Ex running on a supercharged Pentium II and 3DFX combo. (And you might think the game is actually running on a 3DFX card if you're playing on Xbox One – the frame rate at times is awful, so go with PS4 or PC if you have the option)
New weapons, weapon upgrades, and general combat abilities are acquired via terminals dotted about the game world. Once you've collected enough Nano canisters you can trade them for a weapon or an upgrade, so you might opt for a cool stun add-on for your shotgun or buy the rocket launcher. For the most part the guns each have a best-use scenario, the railgun being great to take out enemies from distance (especially with added scope), but the shotgun far better to deal with waves of small enemies. Health is also of the non-recharging kind, with green med packs shining like beacons of hope in some of the trickier battle arenas. You'll often find yourself locked into a zone, the exit only activating once an entire army of robots is dispatched.
Bosses crop up occasionally too, coming with glowing orange weak points, maddeningly powerful weapons, and an onslaught of normal enemies to cause trouble. Enjoyment here will depend on how quickly you work out the correct tactics, with frustration likely to set in if you keep hitting a brick wall (made of exploding plasma, lasers and more). Generally it pays to stay in cover, which is a shame as for the majority of the game going on the attack is the most effective option.
Originally Hard Reset was a pretty brief experience, but the new levels from the Extended Edition bulked it up nicely and added some much needed new locations – areas that weren't just neon-tinted warehouses with little screen furniture. Redux, then, isn't an epic adventure by any means, but for the £14.99 price tag it delivers enough bang for your buck.
The big question is whether or not a game like Hard Reset Redux has a place in today's market... a market that has recently received the superb Doom. Whereas Doom took the essence of the franchise and smashed it, rather bloodily, into relevance, Hard Reset sticks firmly to its roots. There's space for both, but the old-school shooter is starting to show its age.