Way back in 2013, a game was released for the PC called Hard Reset. So far, so humdrum, right? I mean, why would us Xbox gamers be concerned about a first person shooter that just so happened to come with a strong whiff of Quake? Despite the developers of Flying Wild Hog Studios being more famous for their Shadow Warrior games, there’s no sign of Lo Wang in this game. Normally, we wouldn’t worry about such a thing, but then, in 2016, a remixed version of the game did release for the Xbox One – Hard Reset Redux. And that took the original game, tweaked the graphics, rejigged some of the encounters and bundled all the DLC and expansions that had been released up till that point into one handy package. So, come with me to a game that didn’t exactly set the world on fire, but still had a certain something about it.
The story of Hard Reset Redux was a pretty epic one. In the future, the world is pretty much like the story of The Terminator. Vast swathes of the world, known as the Barrens, are controlled by machines; machines that want to destroy humanity, as they always do. Still, the future is what it is, and the last city that remains in this particular dystopian future is called Bezoar. Bezoar is home to The Sanctuary, which is what the machines are really after as they want to capture and assimilate the billions of digitised human minds stored therein. As you can imagine, losing the majority of the human race, even in digital form, would be a disaster, so keeping Bezoar safe is obviously priority number one.
In order to protect the city, the CLN was formed – a corporate combat unit – and the person we play as, Major Fletcher, is a member of this organisation. As the game opens, the machines have broken through a wall and gained access to the city. Guess who is the only person who can stop them? No prizes!
What Hard Reset Redux then translates into is a series of first person missions, where we have to bring bullet-based justice to the nasty machines. The graphics were still very reminiscent of the classic Quake, with quite tight levels that were all self-contained. These stages were quite distinct visually as we progressed through the city to try and eradicate the machine invaders. There were the obligatory secret areas to find, and with a selection of new firing modes for the weapons to uncover, a lack of action was never an issue for this game. Yes, you read that right, a selection of firing modes could be found and utilised, as there were only two weapons available – the CLN Modular Assault Rifle and the EEF-21 Plasma Rifle. While the Assault Rifle could get grenade or rocket attachments, the Plasma Rifle utilised Railgun upgrades and more.
It was also helpful to have the enemies as robots, as blowing them up and shooting them in the face didn’t involve any gore; something which is always helpful when you have a five year old son in the house who loves everything about video games. Try as you might, it’s impossible to stop children of that age watching you while you play, and so I could at least kid myself that I wasn’t warping his young mind.
One thing that has stayed with me over all the intervening years is the way the levels were laid out. With no map to speak of (there was one, but it sucked and was very hard to read) the levels usually degenerated into “wandering about aimlessly until something shoots at me”, at which point I would realise I was on the right path. This is not my preferred method of playing games, believe it or not, and it did soon start to grind.
If this is my overarching memory five years on, you can only imagine how annoying it was back in the day when the game was new.
There were good points to Hard Reset Redux, such as the way the environment could work for you. In addition to the cliche red barrels that would explode when shot, there were also vending machines that could be detonated, as the security system that was installed on these vending machines tends to react violently when it is disturbed. Don’t try and get a free bag of crisps in the future, is my advice.
So, these then are my memories of Hard Reset Redux on Xbox from 2016. While it was frustrating to not be able to navigate effectively, the action was certainly over the top and featured some intense set pieces and boss fights. It was a proper old school experience, even five years ago, and it remains so today.
But what about you? Have you been tempted to enter the cyberpunk world of Bezoar and The Sanctuary thanks to my scribbling about the game? Did you play it back in the day? Let us know in the comments.