Hard Reset Gameplay Performance Review

PC exclusive shooter Hard Reset landed a few days ago, and we've got the skinny on performance for you. The mean, lean, DX9 engine creates some dazzling visuals, but you may be too busy shooting to see them. We've taken a quick look at the entire game with six video cards and we're ready to shed some light on this funky little game.

Introduction

Hard Reset was released by polish developer Flying Wild Hog to distribution on Steam this past September the 13th. This PC-Exclusive game is the first product from Flying Wild Hog, which is comprised of developers formerly with People Can Fly, CD Projekt Red, and City Interactive. PC Gamers will recognize those companies as the developers of Painkiller, The Witcher, and Sniper: Ghost Warrior, respectively, among other titles.

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Hard Reset

Hard Reset is a first-person shooter. In an area of hybridized gaming (FPS/RPG, Action FPS, Real-Time Tactical, etc.), this game is a pure, straight, old-school shooter. In gameplay, it is reminiscent of Doom, Serious Sam, and Painkiller. At its core, Hard Reset is about slaughtering hordes of mechanical enemies in whatever way you feel like. There are also several secrets to discover in each level. In an excellent interview with Gamespot, Flying Wild Hog CEO Michael Szustak states:

Hard Reset is definitely not an open-world shooter like Far Cry, but it's also not a shooter on rails, the kind that Modern Warfare is. It's rather similar to old-school shooters like Doom, where you had to search the level to get a key card, and where you will find secrets--sometimes really challenging ones.

Hard Reset purposefully avoids many of the current trends in first-person shooters, such as regenerating health, melee combat, and cover systems. Instead, you'll find health-kits, and loads of ammunition. There is an upgradable weapon system, but instead of carrying around a ton of different guns, you have two weapons which can be upgraded to turn your assault rifle into a shotgun and your plasma gun into an EMP mortar, among many other upgrades.

The environment in Hard Reset is highly interactive. There are electrical devices to destroy in order to electrocute your enemies. There are explosive barrels and generators to destroy in order to torch your enemies or reveal secret areas. There are also gear upgrade stations, consoles, and public terminals, each with varying degrees of interactivity.

The Technology

Hard Reset is DirectX 9 only game. There is no DirectX 10 or DirectX 11 support. Some gamers may balk at that, but we don't believe the game's visuals suffer for it. It is built upon Flying Wild Hog's "Road Hog" engine, developed by eight employees during the first year of the studio's existence. There aren't a lot of details about the engine out there, but in an interview with PC Gamer, studio founder Klaudiusz Zych stated that the engine makes extensive use of Havok physics and dynamic lighting and shadows:

We don’t use pre-rendered lightmaps. Every light is dynamic; it can casts shadows or be shot down.


Test Setup

For our test system platform we are using an ASUS P6T6 WS Revolution motherboard with an Intel Core i7 920 overclocked to 3.6GHz, and 6GB of Corsair DDR3-1600. For the power supply, we will be using a CoolerMaster Real Power Pro 1250W.

We use the 3.6GHz overclocked quad-core processor in an attempt to keep from putting our evaluation into a position of being CPU limited. Obviously, we make every effort to not use CPU limited games for video card evaluations, but the 3.6GHz processor seems to put many peoples’ minds at ease when it comes to that subject.

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For all three NVIDIA-based video cards in this evaluation, we are using NVIDIA's GeForce/ION Driver 285.27 Beta package, dated 13 September 2011. For all three AMD-based video cards in this evaluation, we are using AMD's Catalyst 11.8 WHQL driver package, dated 17 August 2011. All drivers are indicated for use with Windows 7 x64.


Configuring Hard Reset

Hard Reset has an extensive graphics options, befitting a proper PC-focused game.

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The first option is Vertical Field of View, which allows 1-degree adjustments for players who prefer a wider or narrower FOV. Gamma and Full Screen controls follow, along with a Display selector, a Refresh Rate selector, and an Aspect ratio selector. Next down is a Resolution selector control and a Vertical Synchronization (vsync) checkbox.

The Anti-Aliasing drop-down allows gamers to select "Off", "MLAA", "2X FSAA" (MSAA), and "4X FSAA". There is a box labeled Reduce Input Lag, which is recommended for SLI and CrossFireX users to reduce input lag that can be introduced with multi-GPU configurations. After that, there is a graphics macro setting called Overall Graphics Quality, which enables gamers to quickly adjust detail settings without manually configuring each option. However, setting that box to "Custom" allows users to select options with more granularity. The quality options are self-explanatory, but with all six video cards we used, we found that simply selecting "Ultra" in the Overall Graphics Quality drop-down box automatically configured the highest graphics settings the game has to offer.

Testing Hard Reset

To test this game, we first played through the entire game. It can be a fairly short game, depending on which difficulty setting you select. In the end, we settled on the final boss fight as our testing scenario. The fight features numerous hordes of enemies, a truly gigantic boss robot, a wide view of the city, and extensive lighting effects. We began recording framerates as soon as we walked up to the platform to activate the fight, and we stopped recording as soon as the boss fell. The test took us between six and seven minutes to complete.