Author: Sean Ridgeley
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Sunday, July 22nd, 2012
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Games/Reviews/hard_reset_exile/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.
Last year's cyberpunk shooter Hard Reset was something of a sleeper hit. An independent PC only FPS with stunning graphics and endless robots to blow up, it was designed for the oldschool shooter fan. Given the lack of games that fit this criteria, many ate it up, and rightfully so.
A few months after launch, a Survival mode with two maps was added in, and now, the Exile DLC has been added for existing owners, offering more campaign and Survival content. Let's see if it's worth the download, or if it makes the full purchase any more enticing for those that have ignored it until now.
The campaign features five new levels outside the original Bezoar setting. You'll still notice some similarities between the new setting and old with the occasional dark corridor, but for the most part, Exile does well to mix things up with some sunny, outdoor environments. There are no unicorns or butterflies flying about, mind you (the universe is still as dilapidated as ever) -- the sun just happens to be shining on it.
Within the new environments you'll find some slightly more varied gameplay; certain sections force long range fighting, while others see you making your way through what looks like robot hell, dodging machinery and taking out baddies. The majority of the game isn't too different from what you may have played through already, but there's enough variety to keep me interested. Also worth noting: the objective marker has been removed, so what little exploring there is to do, you'll have to do on your own now -- a respectable change, indeed, particularly given the game is supposed to be a throwback to 90s shooters.
Enemies are more varied, too. You'll see most if not all robots from the vanilla game return (hint: they're still out to cut you good), but also some new, exciting foes like robotic spiders and cops in hover cars equipped with missiles -- taking these guys down with a perfectly timed RPG is not unlike the thrills I've experienced doing similar in Battlefield 3 (no small feat as a developer). There's also a new boss to beat down, but I won't spoil that for you.
On the downside, I still find the game thoroughly frustrating on anything but Easy difficulty with maximum health. Maybe I've just been playing too much multiplayer FPS and not enough single player, but I found myself raging about as much as I was actually playing on even Normal difficulty. Some of the blame lies on the lack of a quick save system, but even besides, it just feels like you die way too easily, and enemies are far too difficult to take out. Easy does feel like a perfectly respectable challenge, so you may want to wuss out like me and go with that still.
The story is still a buzzkill, as it feels very much divorced from the rest of the game, and is just generally uninteresting, though serviceable. No big surprises here. Cutscenes are still skippable, thankfully.
This mode is a fair bit of fun if you're just looking to mess around for a bit, or if you love speed runs and leaderboards and such. It's standard Survival with a mild twist: waves of enemies come at you endlessly until you're eventually overwhelmed and killed; after each wave, you have about 10 seconds to pick an upgrade before more robots come barreling at you full force.
The new maps, unfortunately, are fairly generic one floor box-shaped maps with lots of crates and whatnot strewn about. It's nothing to write home about, but if you've been really digging the mode or do like these kind of modes in general, they'll help to liven it up a bit.
So that's about it, really: a few hours of new, somewhat fresh gameplay accompanied by some more Survival levels. If you were hankering for more Campaign gameplay with Hard Reset, the DLC should help you remember why you liked the game to begin with, and provide a reasonable amount of entertainment for a grand total of zero dollars. For those that haven't taken the plunge, now is definitely the time, not only for Exile, but because gameplay tweaks like faster switching weapons have improved the experience a fair bit, and because you can buy it now on Steam for the price of a chicken sammy.
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