The run and gun genre still alive

Unlike many of my previous articles, I have a full game review, and it is on the spiritual successor of Contra, Hard Corps: Uprising.

Review: Hard Corp: Uprising

Release Date: Out Now

Developer: Arc System Works Publisher: Konami

Console(s): PS3/Xbox 360

Format: Digital Downloadable Title

ESRB rating: T

Price: 1200 MS Points ($14.99)

Disclaimer: Only the PSN version (and the Xbox Live trial version) of this game was reviewed. While both versions may look and play the same, I’m unable to comment on the game’s online co-op feature over Xbox Live.

Ah, yes Hard Corp: Uprising. I was fairly excited about playing this game, since it’s from the same developer that made the Guilty Gear—and more recently—the BlazBlue franchise.

The story behind the game is that you’re a part of a resistance group fighting against an oppressive army that you’ll see at the beginning of the game. The two main playable characters are Bahamut, an ex-soldier, and Krystal, a civilian-turned-rebel with an eye patch.

Graphically, the 2D sprites look sharp and are well animated. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about 3D models, mainly some of the bosses. The 3D models—while meshing fairly well with the 2D sprites—look kind of outdated, even for a downloadable title. The HUD, while mostly readable, has very small text that makes it very hard to read, unless you have an HDTV. Thankfully the text issue only applies to displaying how many lives the player may have left.

Gameplay is where this game shines the most. It plays like your typical run-and-gun side-scroller. Unlike many of those other titles, Hard Corp has two “shift” buttons. The first of which, allows the player to remain still while being able to aim in all eight directions. The second “shift” button, called the Strafe button, allows the player to face in one direction regardless of which direction he/she is moving.

Most of the boss battles are fairly challenging but are rarely cheap. There are at least two bosses that seem to be the exception. For example, near the end of one stage, you have to fight one strange boss and make sure to dodge its attacks by jumping and dashing in-between two adjacent trains; both trains are going up. This wouldn’t be a big deal if it weren’t for the fact that if you get hit during that battle, you’ll fall to your death and lose a life. To make the game more casual friendly, the game has a mode, called Rising Mode, that allows players to use points earned from this mode can be used to upgrade his/her characters with extra health, faster firing, ect.

The voice acting, for the most part is pretty bad, and not in the “chessy-awesome” bad acting either. Some of the dialog, such as when Bahamut says “Gotta hang on,” sounds like it was badly edited together. There is a bit of the “cheesy-awesome” voice over work, but that’s mostly in the first part of the final boss fight or when Bahamut dies. The voice acting would have severely hurt the game if it weren’t for it’s quirky sense of humor.

I tried out the online co-op a couple of time. While the people I’ve played with didn’t have headset, voice chat seemed to work since they were able to follow my strategies, most of the time. Unfortunately, there’s a fair bit of lag in some of the matches that I’ve played. Some of them got so bad that I got disconnect from a few of the matches. Other times, it cleared itself up and I was able to even clear the game—it’s only 8 levels—with one of my co-op buddies, but the best way to co-op is by playing locally (on the same console).

Matchmaking isn’t bad, but there is no way to find out what region the host player is from. I was even sent a message by one host who was Japanese.

Overall, most hardcore 2D “run-and-gun” shooter fans will probably enjoy this, but it’s recommended that everyone else at least try out the trial version first before dropping 1200 MS points ($15) on this title.

3.5/5.0 (GOOD)

+ Provides a good challenge for hardcore players

Rising Mode

+ Great (and fully customizable) controls

+ Great looking 2D models

+ (Unintentional?) “cheesy-awesome” dialog that’s complimented by its occasional quirky sense of humor

– Bad voice acting

– Some cheap bosses

– Some online lag and matchmaking issues

– Too expensive, too short, too few playable characters (not counting DLC characters)