Hard Corps: UprisingESRB:
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Action Games
Online Co-Op (2 players)
Local Co-Op (2 players)
Hard Corps: Uprising is described perfectly by Konami as, “… a new 2D side scroller developed by ARC System Works that pays homage to classic Konami action series.” That brief description will evoke memories for veteran gamers of the classic Contra series, as it has brought me back to quite a few nights when I was a teenager, slamming my controller down in frustration as I attempted the challenging Super Contra. If Hard Corps: Uprising is anything like its predecessors I fully expect a challenging and hopefully less frustrating experience; however, I very much doubt it.
Loading up Hard Corps: Uprising starts off with a Japanese style animation that instantly blew me away with the high quality and details put into such a short video. The story told in such a brief time using images was a great way to introduce the game, along with a feel for what to expect throughout the game.
The overall artistic direction continues with the Japanese anime style, with the main characters and enemies looking very familiar where comparisons can be made to the huge array of anime movies loved by many. The two main characters named Bahamut and Krystal have their own personal armor that can be customized with a variety of different colours, giving them a personal touch.
The main difference between the main characters and the enemies, when it comes to the humans that is, is that Bahamut and Krystal have visible hair whereas the soldiers wear helmets to cover up their hair colour. As much as I'd like to say there was a huge difference in the characters, it was really only the helmets that made a difference. The robotic enemies are a lot a more unique and provide the artistic variety needed to give this title unique looking elements. Boss battles really highlight how much imagination the artists put into creating awesome and powerful enemies for the player to figure out how to defeat.
The different environments, including a desert, jungle, river, ruins and even the skyline of a city, are all amazingly detailed with destructible bushes, boxes, and sand bags along with intricate details in the background such as clouds, vines, air traffic and torrential rain pour. Not only do the environments include great detail, they have been rendered in 2.5D graphics to create some interesting gameplay when it comes to tactics.
The visual presentation in the end is really well done with sharp graphics, a variety of robotic enemies and stunning environments to play through. The only aspect I felt was lacking and would love to have more of throughout the game was the story told through videos, much like the opening segment that really captivated me.
The musical score of any game sets out to convey a myriad of emotions and create suspense, adventure and sometimes romance. Hard Corps: Uprising may not have a whole lot of romance but it does have a musical score that creates suspense and adventure from beginning to end as you battle the onslaught of the Commonwealth from area to area.
Mixed in along with the musical score is a plethora of sound effects for all the different weapons, explosions, vehicles, robots and anything else you can think of that would belong in an action packed side scrolling shooter like Hard Corps: Uprising. Although plentiful and functional, the sound effects don’t stand out, but at the same time they don’t fail the task they set out to do.
The only thing I would have liked to have heard more of throughout Hard Corps: Uprising is some voice work to tell a bit of the story and to convey a little more emotion for Bahamut and Krystal as they battle Commonwealth forces. In the end though the music and sound effects add a lot of emotion and help bring the action to forefront.
Hard Corps: Uprising takes place in the year 2613 where the world is ruled by an empire called the Commonwealth. Neighboring nations have bonded together, forming a Resistance Force that has suffered many losses, forcing them to try and defeat the Commonwealth in a last ditch effort. A small force of soldiers has grouped up to perform this task under the leadership of a Commonwealth defector, Bahamut. There is a different storyline as well that takes place for the other playable character Krystal, however, the levels appear to be identical no matter what character you choose.
The object of Hard Corps: Uprising is to defeat the Commonwealth Forces in your way, to defeat the mini-bosses, and finally, at the end of each level, to defeat the boss. Along the way you will have to navigate around, over, under and through some obstacles while dodging enemy fire from air and ground forces.
There are two different ways to play Hard Corps: Uprising — Arcade and Rising. In Arcade mode you follow the story of either Bahamut or Krystal with preset abilities and you have no way of upgrading your characters with any experience gained. Rising on the other hand allows you to upgrade your characters with things such as improved weaponry, extra health, extra lives, extra continues, improved dash moves and boosted weapon fire.
Suffice it to say, the Arcade mode is a lot more difficult to play through as you don’t receive any advantages at all and have to rely on some extreme skill to progress through the game; extreme skills that I did not have, nudging me in the direction of Rising mode where I could at least give myself a fighting chance to progress through the game. Even with the ability to upgrade my character it still took me several dozen attempts to complete the first level, which in the end did come in handy because all the experience I earned on each attempt was cumulative and I was able to get plenty of extra health and lives — my biggest downfall was the inability to dodge weapon fire of any kind.
Although the difficulty of the game is extreme and death became a regular action for my character, I did manage to progress through the game with only some mild frustration. This time around I didn’t have as many urges to introduce my controller to the floor while screaming some expletives. The controls do not play at all into the difficulty of the game as they are probably the easiest part, plotted out very well.
Hard Corps: Uprising has multiplayer action available both locally and online through Xbox Live for yourself and another player. The gameplay plays exactly the same as single player, but this time around you have a partner in facing the Commonwealth Forces. Online mode has three options: Quick Match (jump into a random game), Custom Match (choose your Game Mode: Arcade or Rising and your Area Setting: close to home, or anywhere) and finally there is Create Room (Game Mode, Voice Chat: On/Off, Connection Quality: Unspecified/Priority and Private: On/Off).
Multiplayer is just as fun and challenging as single player, but you have the moral support of a friend to help you get through those tough times be it a few short words, or to help blow up the Commonwealth Forces. The connection quality and voice chat options are nice to see as well because sometimes you want to sit back and just play and not worry about listening to someone or the connection dropping.
In the end Hard Corps: Uprising is a challenging title that will have gamers playing for hours in either Arcade or Rising mode. Rising mode will probably be a good start for most to get the hang of the game and the inner workings of the gameplay before moving on to the much more challenging Arcade mode. Another friendly suggestion while playing this title is take your time, get to know the patterns of your enemies and try again and again until you succeed.
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