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Hard Corps Uprising Review

If
you take a minute to consider the current state of the gaming industry, it’s
quite amazing that a game like Hard Corps: Uprising has come out. This is a
game rooted neck deep in the older days of gaming that began in arcades. All
the trademarks of that era are present in this game; a vertical learning curve,
brutal checkpoints, severe penalties and borderline broken mechanics. The
question is though; does this still make for an entertaining game in 2011?
Well, I’m going to get to that now as answering that question depends on a ton
of other elements.

Firstly,
the difficulty in this game is absolutely nuts. When you first start out you
will curse at your Xbox like you were back in an arcade in the days of
Pac-Man. The main thing that makes this game so hard is at the beginning there
is a complete lack of preparation for the player. Apart from a control screen,
the rest is up to you. Hard Corps: Uprising takes a huge inspiration from
Contra and for those of you who don’t know what Contra is, it’s a side
scrolling shooter with some platforming thrown in that is notorious for being
hard. Hard Corps: Uprising has the difficulty part in spades, but with equal
amounts of frustration. 

 

There
are two ways to play in Hard Corps: Uprising, the traditional arcade mode and
rising mode. Arcade mode is what you would expect; you select your character
and then play through as many stages as you can until you run out of lives.
Rising mode is very different, in this mode you earn credits as you progress
that can be spent on upgrades and you have the option of replaying levels. Which
are essential if you intend to climb the games steep learning curve. You
will need to play the levels a few times just to be able to get through them at
a steady pace, and even then it will only take one mistake to virtually
castrate your character. Like in most side scrolling shooters, you can collect
weapon power ups when you defeat a certain enemy. These are very confusing when
you’re just starting though. Until you power them up, half of these weapons are
worse than your default one; this breaks a fundamental rule for this genre.

The
weapon system is the second ingredient to the ultra hard formula for this game.
You can hold two power ups at once and you can switch between them on the fly.
However, it will only take one hit and you will lose whatever weapon you have
equipped. This wouldn’t be such a hindrance if cheap hits weren’t a dime a
dozen in this game. You can also power up your weapons by collecting multiple
pickups for them. If you pick up three machine guns, you will have an
incredibly powerful weapon that cuts through entire levels with ease, but
remember, just one hit and it’s gone. These problems are exacerbated by the
fact that the game throws an insane number of enemies at you at any one time
from all directions. There are a limited number of enemies but the pace of the
game is so fast that you rarely have time to stop and think about what you’re
doing, making numerous playthroughs of a level mandatory. You can offset some
of these problems by playing the game cooperatively, but that doesn’t excuse
the pacing nor the balance problems this game has. The first level is a good
example of this, the first half is a breeze, and then out of nowhere you’re
thrown into a relentless boss fights and platforming sections that feel like they
belong at the end of the game.


Make
no mistake, this game pulls no punches in terms of difficulty and if what I’ve
listed so far has set off any alarm bells I would advise staying well clear. However,
like with all games that come from this era, once you put in the time necessary
to memorise enemy patterns and the levels, there is fun to be had with Hard
Corps: Uprising. Arcade mode is definitely tailored towards the diehard fans of
this genre. Rising mode does present a very good challenge once you get the
hang of things. Once you level up your character a little, the insane
difficulty becomes somewhat manageable. However, it’s unfortunate that in order
to enjoy the game you must do this type of required grinding, this is
something that just doesn’t belong in this type of game. The brutal difficulty
should be compensated by a powerful character right at the start, not after a
couple of hours of grinding for points. These problems are only further
magnified due to the harsh checkpointing and life structure in the game. You will have
to repeat entire portions of levels if you die on a boss, with no weapons and
even less margin for error.

Hard
Corps: Uprising knows the kind of person it is aiming for, the problem is that
is focuses too much attention on that and not enough on being true for its
genre or the modern day. The reason games like Contra or Atomic Runner existed
the way they did back in the arcade era was because there wasn’t the options to
make them more forgiving. However, right off the bat these games were fair,
your character is powerful enough to make it through and power ups were
something that just made the game more fun, they were not an essential tool in
order to progress on. Hard Corps: Uprising just makes too many mistakes in its
attempt to recreate this experience in the modern day; losing power ups should
be something that is irritating, not game breaking. The pacing should be a
gradual build, not a straight line at the highest difficulty and the penalties
should be fair, something that this game certainly is not.

Rating
5.0

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