Aug 15, 2011

Hard Reset Preview


First-time developers Flying Wild Hog have put together quite the first person shooter for the PC. This may be the best sci-fi/futuristic game that makes you feel like you’re Deckard from Blade Runner. Many parallels exist here: it’s the future, there are cybernetic implants, robots, and cities built high almost into the clouds. It absolutely screams cyberpunk top to bottom. My two or so hours with this lengthy hands-on demo left me wanting more.

…I play as a cop named Major Fletcher in the city of Bezoar. The year is 2436 and I protect the people against robots, or so I try. I am dispatched to a location to investigate after I was just about to get off and enjoy a drink. When I arrive, there are multiple casualties and I spring into action…

What makes this first person shooter stand out? It’s back-to-the-basics frenetic action and boss battles last seen in Painkiller are some of the best in the genre. Even some of the boss battles occur simultaneously or are multi-staged. The game only has one speed: FAST, no slow plodding here – that is of course, unless you want to. Moments of downtime exist, allowing you to look around this beautifully constructed world. The graphics are jaw-dropping, though I can’t tell if it’s a whole new engine, or if it’s running on something existing – but gorgeous effects nonetheless. It is something your eyes must gaze upon if nothing else.

I played on the Normal difficulty, but four exist to set for your ability: Easy, Normal, Hard, and Insane. Even on Normal with a hefty amount of upgrades, I felt really challenged without feeling the AI was overpowered or being cheap. Checkpoints are few and far between making you regret failing that section. The game is punishing but challenging all in the right ways.  The mistakes I made were mine, and mine alone.

From the levels I played, you have a quick and dirty tutorial to get you going – and it’s all you need. The levels appear to be out of order. The upgrade system was accelerated on my behalf to see where you end-up near the end of the game. Needless to say, your police officer will become well-equipped to handle any situation he’s dealt. Cutscenes are told via loading screens with motion comics, but they have a noire feel to them like in Max Payne – really slick.

Weapons at my disposable was this assault rifle disguised as a minigun that required no reloading. Secondary weapon was a lightning gun of sorts, cable of doing major damage to robots, slowing them down. Using your weapons against the environment can help as there are transformers you can blow with a few well-placed shots to shock the enemy. There are also explosive barrels to aid your offense against the attacking robots.

The HUD is minimalistic, but yet informative. Armor, Health, and Ammo are all in the lower left hand corner, stacked. Upgrade points and stamina (for sprinting) is also tracked in this location. Perhaps a bit crammed for some, but allows your eyes to focus on one place for the details you need. Speaking of the HUD, the way you interact with elements on screen are akin to the way you activated screens in DooM3 or Prey – which I prefer and provides a unique sense of immersion when pressing buttons on a screen.

By the end of my demo, I felt like I had not seen everything this game had to offer. It seems to be a focused, linear affair so far, but being able to look around the area once you’ve wiped out the enemies provides a hauntingly eerily depiction of the future and gives you time to relax from the battle you just went through.

I can be nitpicky about the way the menu transitions from one screen to the other and that it takes too long – but I won’t. I’d rather the menu system be slow and clunky than the gameplay – which is the opposite. Flying Wild Hog has a lot going for them, I hope the game can deliver what PC gamers want and need, as it has me excited.

The game is called Hard Reset, based on events of the story – not what you will do to your PC as a result of playing. The game is coming out next month, and look forward to more coverage by us as it nears the release.

Here is the official gameplay trailer for Hard Reset:

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