Hard Reset is a brand new sci-fi first person shooter that has set its roots in indie games and aims to challange AAA FPS titles. First look at this game and I was wondering if I was playing something made with Unreal Engine 3.5 or something. If you have watched the UE3's Smaritan demo then the game really looks something taken from there. The cities in this game are well designed, the level design is pretty good. Normally in indie FPS games I am used to either purely linear levels or just huge arenas with lots of enemies thrown at you to save on level design time. But with Hard Reset you will never feel that way, with well designed levels, good pacing of tempo of gun fights and "door opening" sequences. The semi-linear levels are not too hard to traverse and in-case you do get off track while finding generator switched to open next door, there is an arrow guidance available to take you where you need to be.
As far as the story or setting is concerned, it is very poor to be honest. All you will care about is that you are a soldier fightingin against rogue robots who want to kill their human opressors. The story is presented in between levels via animated comic style but the game fails to explain properly the beginning or the end making you loose any focus or interest in the story. All you will be left with is the obvious .. just shoot anything that moves and you will win.
Gameplay wise the game is a treat for straight forward old school shooter fans. It does feature a lot of variety of enemies and mostly in ample quantity for enjoyable gun fights. Most of these enemies try to just rush towards you and it will take fast reflexes and proper use of weapons and environment to hoard them off. All the levels are filled with exploding barrels and elctrocuting junction boxes for you to shoot and balance out the heavy odds. I really liked that how this game revived the "Back pedalling" move, mostly todays shooters have weak humanized enemies allowing you one shot one kill, while Hard Reset brings the old flair of powerful enemies who may not go down easily and you have to move back and doge to give yourself room to fight some more.
On the outlook the game has only two primary weapons: a regular armor piercing bullet rifle and second one is an energy blaster. But both of these can be upgraded to add new modes of fire to them. e.g. your rifle will shift into shotgun or grenade launcher too. But the problem was that visually there is little change when you switch modes and it is not just lack of visual variety of gun but also it sometimes become wrong judgement that what weapon you are firing until you have fired it. The upgrading system is nice as it forces you to collect the "nano" (money) around the level and from dropped loot to get the upgrades at dedicated terminals around the levels.
Overall the game's pros out-weigh its cons. New engine is pretty tight in performance and gives solid gameplay. It has beautiful dark futuristic neon lit cities, hosting lots of fast adrenaline old school gunplay which I am not ashamed to enjoy even one bit. The only thing problematic with the game is its life, since the game is pretty short and there is no multiplayer content to make you go back to it so its just a 4 hour deal. I just hope developers release some free DLC expansion to add more missions / levels to make it worth the deal price.