Tag Archives: Flying Wild Hog

Hard Reset Redux Review


Wait. What? I’m re-reviewing Hard Reset? Well yes, though not in the way you would think. Flying Wild Hog brought out an updated version earlier this month, and I’m here to talk a little bit about the changes. Both minimal, and substantial. It’s another re-mastered, reissued games in a seemingly endless trend. But is this one a good director’s cut or a bad one?

PROS: New content. Balancing. Performance. Loyalty program.

CONS: The visuals don’t always convey the power of the new engine.

ZOMBIE CYBORGS: The Z-movie grunts still manage to be creepy.

Hard Reset was the first major project by Flying Wild Hog. It was a tough as nails First Person Shooter that took place in a dystopian future. Where killer robots are everywhere, a monolithic corporation has skeletons in its closet, and our hero blasts his way through the storyline. It was a lot of fun, and you can read my review here.


In the years since, FWH helmed the reboot of Apogee/3D Realms’ Shadow Warrior. One of the few times a remake has been as good or even better than the original. Unlike today’s game, that game was a complete start over from scratch. Everything was different, the setting, and story. The characters returned but, were still different from what the old Shadow Warrior was. But it managed to be a very fun game, even though so much of the story had changed. So fun, and successful in fact, that a sequel is coming soon.


But to make that sequel they built a new engine, and so they ported Hard Reset over to it. The results are pretty great for the most part. Though there was some controversy when it first launched. A video surfaced showing some parts of the game that looked slightly better in the original version. Which threw some people into a tailspin. Flying Wild Hog actually addressed the complaints . Visually, you can decide for yourself. But after having played it, I can tell you that like a lot of arguments, truth is somewhere in the middle. At least in my humble opinion.


The new engine’s lighting is noticeably different. Depending on what is happening, sometimes it might look better or worse. In my case, most of the time it actually looked better. The textures honestly don’t seem that bad at all. There were maybe two instances of wall posters that looked a little grainier in the first stage. But beyond that it looks largely the same. Aside from a couple of stand out moments where it looks better, it looks pretty much the same. Really, if you’re only coming into this for the graphics you might feel a little bit disappointed.

However, if you’re here for a better experience you won’t be. The move to a new engine means that you can run this version at a much better performance than the original. The new Road Hog engine is much better optimized, and at least on PC you’ll be likely seeing frame rates in the hundreds  so long as you meet the requirements, and tweak your settings accordingly. On console I don’t know, as I haven’t played those versions. But they should be more than playable seeing how Shadow Warrior has done respectably on Xbox, and PlayStation. Flying Wild Hog  have stated the game runs 60 fps, and full 1080p on the XB1, and PS4.


Hard Reset Redux also adds a number of balance changes. Enemies don’t feel nearly as much like bullet sponges as they could in the original version. They’re still challenging. They still employ all kinds of crazy techniques to kill you, and you will still find yourself trying to blow up background scenery to harm them. When you’re not doing that you’ll be trying weapon combinations to do so. But you won’t have to waste nearly a clip of bullets trying to take down one bull charging monstrosity.


They’ve also added a new sword which works a lot like the sword in Shadow Warrior. Sometimes it ends up feeling overpowered. Especially on the lowest level enemies because it can cut them down so quickly. But to counteract that, the enemies can actually hurt you a lot more, so it isn’t always wise to use it. They’ve done very well with putting things in place to make you want to use every weapon upgrade. There are also new levels, and enemies here. Thankfully, they don’t feel rushed or cobbled together. They also feel balanced, and fit right into the action, and the mythos.


If you already bought the original version on PC, through Steam the developer also gives you a sizable discount on this version. So it isn’t a very expensive upgrade. Be that as it may, I wouldn’t call this a must buy if you already own the old version. That is unless, you really loved it enough to play through it multiple times. If you did, the boost in performance, balance tweaks, and added content are all things you will definitely enjoy. So if you were a big fan, these bonuses are going to outweigh any concern you may have over the graphics. Which again, are pretty much the same most of the time. When the new lighting techniques work in its favor the new game does look a bit better. When they don’t only the biggest nitpickers are going to say it looks markedly worse. It really doesn’t though. Either way, don’t come into this for the graphics. Most won’t notice the difference unless it’s pointed out. Come into this for the better performance, and content.



For those on console, I’d say check it out. It is a wonderful game that feels a lot like Quake, or Doom in its gun play. It has some elements of Painkiller’s hordes, but an entirely different pacing. If you’ve enjoyed recent iterations of Doom, and Wolfenstein there’s a very good chance you’re going to enjoy Hard Reset. If you enjoyed Shadow Warrior, I’ll especially recommend looking into this since it was made by the same people, and some of those Shadow Warrior Easter eggs will make more sense. If you’ve never played it all whatsoever, look into it for the reasons above, and in my review of the original game. You’ll be getting a fun title with a fair amount of bonus content in Redux.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

Reposted Review: Hard Reset



(Originally posted on the defunct Blistered Thumbs community blog back in March 2012.)Hard Reset is truly a Frankenstein monster in every way. It’s story takes inspiration from Terminator, Blade Runner, Johnny Mnemonic, and The Big O. The game play takes inspiration from Quake II, Painkiller, Bulletstorm, and Bioshock. Musically it’s a hodgepodge of various forms of Electronica. Visually it feels like someone put TRON, Judge Dredd, Quake IV, Halo, and Doom 3 into a blender.

But is it a Pot Luck Stew you will truly enjoy?

PROS: Impressive effects. Satisfying gunplay involves environments. Interesting premise.

CONS: Short length. Story becomes hard to follow. Derivative at times.

WEIRD: The Swiss Army Knife-ness of your weapon.

Comprised of former members of People Can Fly, Flying Wild Hog Studios quietly rolled out Hard Reset to digital storefronts toward the end of last year. Set in a dystopian future, humans live in a closed off city called Bezoar. Much of the rest of the world is overrun by sentient robot armies who wish to exterminate the last remaining human resistance. The heart of Bezoar holds a place called “The Sanctuary” where the consciousness of many human souls lie interconnected. The machines wish to take down the Sanctuary, and so Major Fletcher heads into battle against the machines to save humankind. Along the way he is contacted by Professor Novak, who is revealed to have created the cybernetic technology in Fletcher’s nanosuit. It is also revealed that Novak created the technology the machines used to nearly wipe out human kind.

The story is told in between levels through narrated comic book panels. There is also some in-game exposition, but it’s mostly the comic book panels you’ll want to follow. The game doesn’t always lend itself well to understanding the story. This is because there are a lot of references to characters or events that are never shown or explained leading to a lot of confusion. Some of the in-game exposition helps, but you’ll be so busy paying attention to playing the game that you’ll likely miss it.


The story is mostly there as a backdrop for the action however, and in a game like this it thankfully isn’t something you need to follow, or understand to have fun. It is a shame its poorly executed though because some of the art in these comic panels really does look cool. The voice acting isn’t too shabby either when compared to similar games.

As for the game itself Hard Reset does a lot of things you’ve seen a million times before, but it also takes some of its own chances, and liberties with those things. For starters, while you won’t be completing any in-depth mission objectives (Aside from shooting robots), the game does mix it up. Instead of doing the typical FPS fare of either giving you 25 different guns to use, or telling you “There are 25 guns. Pick TWO of them to use, and that’s all you can carry at a time”


Hard Reset instead gives you 2 guns. One is a ballistics based gun that has a chain gun, and the other an energy gun that has a plasma rifle. As in Bulletstorm, and to a lesser degree Bioshock however, Hard Reset has capsules that can be opened, and you can spend points on upgrading these two guns to the point you have enough modes to equate to around 20 some odd guns. There are rocket launchers, shotguns, and one of my favorites: the electric mortar. Each of these upgrades themselves can be upgraded.


In addition to the upgradable weapon system one can also upgrade their health system, allowing for higher resistance to being shot, or a higher health meter. Unlike most other shooters this generation, Hard Reset does not do the regenerating health schtick.

Instead, like PC shooters of yore, you must find health packs in the field, and decide for yourself when it might be worth using, or waiting to grab later. It brings back some of the feeling from Quake II, or Goldeneye, or SiN. There is no ducking out behind cover to regain your health. In a bit of irony there is the “Bloody vision” popularized by Call of Duty. So getting badly injured does make it more difficult to see making it even more challenging in a severe firefight.

While there are some similarities to Painkiller, and Serious Sam in terms of combat, Hard Reset is still a bit different. There are indeed sections later in the campaign that follow those games’ structure of: Enter room\Wipe out enemies\Collect something or press button\Wipe out enemies\Repeat. But the entire game does not do this. There are a lot of sections that evoke feelings of playing Doom 3’s quiet jump scare moments, or Quake II’s exploration for secrets. The game combines just enough of these elements so that it feels both intimately familiar, and different enough you’ll want to see what’s next.

Hard Reset also has a novel combination system. Similar to how Bulletstorm, and Madworld reward players for creatively combining attacks on enemies for higher point boosts, Hard Reset has its own. The game doesn’t go for quite the same thing but it does reward you for using explosive objects in the stage backgrounds to take out enemies. For instance, you may fill your upgrade meter slightly for gunning down a small horde of robots. But blow up a car parked on the street, which in turn blows up a robot, which in turn blows up a flammable canister that destroys 15 low-level robots, and you may nearly fill it right there.


The game also delivers a few really awesome “Holy Crap!” moments in its boss characters. The greatest of these is easily the giant skyscraper sized android boss. Reminiscent of TRON, The Big-O, and The Sentinels from The X-Men comics, this Boss will make you nearly soil yourself when you first see him coming. It’s also worth mentioning that for people who may be coming over from Xbox 360 First Person Shooters, that Hard Reset also supports the Xbox 360 gamepad for those who prefer a controller to a keyboard, and mouse.


As fun as the campaign is, some may find some faults with it as it isn’t perfect.

The biggest issue some may have is the short length. The average person will be able to beat the game in a day or two. While you can replay it several times over to use upgrades to guns you may have skipped in previous sessions, you probably won’t care to revisit it very often. The game does have a ton of achievements for players absolutely obsessed with collecting them, but again, it’s a small segment.

Other minor complaints will be the derivative nature of the art direction. While kudos go out to Flying Wild Hog for putting out visuals that can hang with some of the major big budget studios out there, the fact remains that you’ve seen these settings many times over the last 15 years. I hate to keep going back to Quake 2, but a lot of the robots are a stone’s throw from being actual Strogg.

Finally, as I mentioned near the beginning of this review, the storyline can be difficult to follow for players who want to be invested in it. While it isn’t required to enjoy the game, a lot of people really do play games for their stories, even if they are a lot like other stories, or even if they’re shallow. One thing that will certainly disappoint these players is the rather abrupt ending given by the game.

Some may also be turned off by the fact there is no co-operative or competitive multiplayer to be found here whatsoever.


At the end of the day though Hard Reset does have enough going for it to make it worth checking out if you find yourself interested in it. It is a fun ride while it lasts. It tries to do something new with its weapon system, and it takes a slight variance on the creative killing idea put forth by Platinum Games’ Madworld, and People Can Fly’s Bulletstorm. When it does decide to take chances it succeeds.

Even when taking it’s faults into consideration, the low asking price of $20 does limit the feelings of risk. There are games far worse than this one you might spend $60 on.

Hopefully, if there is ever a sequel to this game it will expand on some of these new features, and conventions. Moreover one can only hope  Flying Wild Hog will incorporate some form of co-operative play the way Serious Sam has in the past.

Final Score: 7 out of 10.


Shadow Warrior (Reboot) Review



Many times as fans we have to cringe whenever one of our favorite movies, or games is remade. In many of those cases we find our worst fears come to pass, the story might be so far removed from the original it might as well have been its own franchise entirely. Other times they may get the core concept right, but little else. It’s rare when something fires on all cylinders, and meets or surpasses our lofty expectations.

PROS: An entertaining single player campaign. Flying Wild Hog does it again.

CONS: Some cheap enemies. Some players won’t like the lack of MP.

HOLY REFERENCES BATMAN: Including Monty Python, Star Wars, and Stan Bush.

Movies often have a worse track record than games, but there have still been a large number of misfires over the last thirty years. Last year however there were a couple of pretty good ones. Rise Of The Triad was a pretty great remake that essentially put new tech on an old game, without really changing too much of what made it awesome originally. Shadow Warrior takes a different approach, and oddly enough manages to pull that off without too many missteps along the way.



The original Shadow Warrior was both a good, and bad game. Built off of the Build engine that Duke Nukem 3D used, it had a long campaign, huge maps to explore, and a plethora of secrets. In theory, fans of Duke 3D should have loved it as it carried over much of what was liked. There were two big problems with it. The storyline wasn’t very memorable, and the humor in it started to cross the line of trying to be edgy, and veer into “This isn’t funny it’s just stupid, and mean” territory. While it never got as horrid as the stuff that showed up in the Postal series it certainly got a lot of ire, and faded away pretty quickly once Quake came out.


Many fans were perplexed when this new Shadow Warrior was teased leading up to release. Would it throw in a lot of pointless cultural jokes? Would it retain the open maps of the old 2.5D era, or would it be a linear modern design? With Hard Reset behind them, Flying Wild Hog set out to reboot the franchise as a modern game that doesn’t forget about the 3D Realms game it came from.  They succeeded.



Shadow Warrior runs on the same custom engine that Hard Reset was made in. It shares some elements with Hard Reset, but is certainly not the “Hard Reset with a Shadow Warrior paint job” some of the fans of the original feared. In the game you play a reimagined Lo Wang who is now a prominent crime family member sent on a quest to find a mysterious sword. When a rival crime boss refuses to sell it, and you take it by force, all hell breaks loose as a demonic race of monsters begins invading the Earth. While you fought them in the original game, here the story gives it more of a purpose. As Lo Wang tries to figure out why the monsters are here, what the sword has to do with them, and how to survive, he meets a demon named Hoji. Hoji explains about a secret plot involving Whisperers, these robot like beings that hold demon’s memories away. This leads the two on a quest to track down these beings so Hoji can remember what is going on, and how it involves Lo Wang’s master.



Shadow Warrior is a single player campaign that goes on for around 16 stages, most of which clip along at a decent length. It follows a contemporary design used by many of today’s shooters like BioShock Infinite. You will enter an area, explore it getting more back story along with secrets, and hidden items. Then you’ll enter another section, and engage in a shooting gallery area. Sometimes there will be an in-game engine cinematic thrown in between. On paper it may seem like an also-ran but it does a number of things to differentiate it from other games in the genre.


The stages, while having a very linear path, do reward, and encourage exploration. Instead of only having the clichéd “Hallway, and two tiny alcoves” layout, they are instead one massive environment with barriers over the path. Stages feel less like a line, and more like a fun house instead. You will find in a number of stages you’ve backtracked without even realizing it, and then still be able to go back to other spots to look for secrets.


There are A LOT of secrets too. Going off of the beaten path will lead you to secret items, or retro themed rooms based upon the original Shadow Warrior. Some of these even reference the anime girls hidden in the old game. The game also tosses in its own Easter eggs. Not only referencing Hard Reset, but games Devolver Digital published including Serious Sam 3, and Hotline Miami.



Weapons, and gunplay feel really spot on as well. Guns have the heft, and loud explosions you would expect. Many are updates from the old game including favorites like the crossbow, rocket launcher and the Uzi. All of the weapons can be upgraded through Shadow Warrior’s store system. As you play the game you can collect Karma points from blood altars, as well as killing enemies. Get enough of them , and you can unlock special abilities. You can also power up your sword attacks by collecting crystals. These allow you to recover health, use different stances, or swings with your sword. You can also use the money you find ransacking drawers, and cabinets throughout the game to beef up your various guns.


There is a really wide variety of enemies to attack too. Some of your favorites from the original are here, along with a lot of new ones. Many of whom take special patterns, or have a special weakness to take down. Boss fights are especially satisfying. While they are all taken down in a similar fashion their designs are really cool. Each fitting the environments of their respective stages, and the mythos of the storyline being presented.



The game also has a lot of truly funny moments, a lot of which takes a more subtle comic relief approach rather than the low brow gags the old game went for. There are certainly a few cheap laughs too, such as the fortune cookie messages you can find, or in some of the dialogue. But it’s done well without pushing the envelope for the sake of doing so.

Hard Reset was a pretty nice looking first effort for Flying Wild Hog, and Shadow Warrior continues the trend. There are a fairly diverse number of environments throughout the game. The game is colorful, from mountainous Japanese villages, to industrialized factories, to some really dark, volcanic caverns Shadow Warrior looks great. This is an indie developer showing the world that B games can certainly sate fans of AAA visuals even if they aren’t pushing the same number of triangles, and light bloom.



The game ran fairly brisk on my aging hardware on high settings, dropping the frame rate only during the final wave of enemies before the final stage. Shadow Warrior is fairly scalable, allowing you to change texture quality, resolution, V-sync options, AA, and all of the features you’ve come to expect.

Beating the game will unlock a gallery, and the ability to re watch the comic book inspired scenes shown between certain levels. There are already some nice add-ons for this game like the Viscera Clean Up Detail add-on that puts you in the role of a janitor who has to clean up Lo Wang’s messes.



Shadow Warrior is one of the rare times a remake can go in an opposite direction, and still turn out to be a great game that doesn’t disregard the core fans who loved the original. While those who may have wanted a multiplayer mode tackled on might be disappointed, anyone looking for a truly good single player campaign should pick this up. Whether or not you enjoyed the original game, the reboot should entertain you in either case.

Final Score: 8 out of 10