Hard Corps: Uprising – Review


Xbox Live Arcade Title
Release Date: 16th February.
Developer: Arc System Works
Publisher: Konami

Cost: 1,200 MSP

Do you remember the good old days when games would rip you a new one, spit down your throat, insult your mum and then slap you in the face? Well Hard Corps: Uprising is a return to those days as this retro-styled side-scrolling shooter will cause absolute frustration, complete controller destroying rage and ludicrous amounts of fun.

Hard Corps: Uprising is a sequel to Contra: Hard Corps and features the classic gameplay remade by Arc System Works, creators of Blazblue and the Guilty Gear series, and their handprints are all over it in the form of the games hand-drawn backgrounds and interesting character designs, all based on Japanese anime style designs. It crafts quite the striking game with some cool enemy designs and pretty backgrounds to keep your eyes on the screen, and there’s also explosions and insanity going on adding vast swathes of color to the already overcrowded mayhem on the screen.
Pumping out in the background is some nice heavy music balancing between metal and heavy rock and it suits the game and action perfectly allowing you to get into that enemy ass kicking mood.

But I’m digressing, it’s the gameplay that we need to cover first as that’s the important bit.
As you might expect of a 2d shooter the premise is nice and simple: run forward (and occasionally backward) and kill everything that gets in your way. While this concept is simple enough, Arc System Works have done a nice job of adding variety with missions including air-boarding down a highway, sneaking through an enemy base and fighting your way through dark caves with falling boulders.
As you run around shooting everything you have access to basic tricks like sprinting, but play through Uprising mode and you can earn points to trick out your character with even more abilities like bullet deflection and dodging. It’s a system that helps keep you interested as even the best side-scrolling shooting can get tiring quickly, especially when it kills you a lot. The upgrade system has a good amount of choices to play with allowing you to tailor your character more toward your own play style.
The action becomes more and more frantic as you progress with dextrous thumbs being an absolute must as you leap over bullets, shoot enemies and generally have a panic attack as mass amounts of enemies surround you.
The game provides a hard as nails challenge and manages to, mostly, make you feel pride at completing a mission or passing a difficult section, but sometimes the game can take its rough approach a little too far with the occasional boss that spams certain attacks, but you’ll damn happy when you finally beat it.

To augment your run and gun prowess you can get access to a large amount of power-ups like grenade launchers, laser beams and loads more and each can also be upgraded in the shop.

Of course a big draw of the game, and to help you beat the bloody thing, is the co-op mode which lets you drag in a hapless friend and subject him to painful
thumbs and screaming rage. It’s the way to go with Hard Corps as the game feels great when you’re working with a friend to clear a path and there’s plenty of last second saves to be had.
The co-op has a few nice options in there as well such as being able to set a connection quality for a game so nobody with a terrible connection can join and give you headaches. Sorry to those with bad connections.

And if Uprising mode and co-op aren’t enough you can also jump into Arcade mode and try to score the highest, but be warned Arcade mode bumps up the difficulty so even if you managed to drag yourself through Rising mode by the skin of your teeth you’ll still find a major challenge here so those who consider themselves can claim big bragging rights for beating Arcade mode, and even more if you beat it without dying. That’s skill.

The amount of game time on offer is also quite impressive, though it must be said a large amount of the playtime is due to dying and having to replay the level numerous times, and the game overflows with a sense of “just one more shot” giving it plenty of replay value, assuming you don’t throw your controller through a window.
The leaderboards also make a big difference as you compete with friends to claim the crown of Hardcore, and the crown of OMG my fingers hurt.

So what we have is a bloody hard game, but one that is ultimately a rewarding, fun and frantic experience interspersed with complete bursts of anger. The downside is many may be put off by its incredible difficulty, but stick with it and the game opens up and becomes incredibly addictive. Shame about my controller really.

The Good:
+ Tough, but the sense of accomplishment is immense.
+ It looks ace!
+ It’s freakin’ frantic

The Bad:
– It’s tough!
– It’s evil!
– There’s little story


Graphics: 8.5
Beautiful character designs and backgrounds, but some things do look a little rough.

Sound: 8
There’s almost no voice acting, but the music is suits the game well.

Story: 4
There is a story there, but it’s hardly going to win any awards.

Gameplay: 8
Solid, fun and manages to make side-scrolling shooters feel fresh.

Lifespan: 7
A good number of levels with replay value in the form of getting money for upgrades, beating friends etc. but much of its time comes from the difficulty

Overall: 8
Hard Corps: Uprising has managed to make side-scrolling shooters feel fresh and fun again.
The intense difficulty will appeal to the hardcore, but it may hurt sales with newer games who are used to the more hand-holding nature of newer games. Get through that though and persevere and Uprising comes into its own, and  in co-op it’s a great experience.

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