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Hard Corps: Uprising

Hard Corps: Uprising

Just another beautiful day in the Corps: though that depends whether you enjoy getting your body used as target practice by rampaging squads and killer robots.

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You can tell Hard Corps means business right from the opening movie with its HEAVY METAL score and tightly-edited montage of explosions and faster-and-much-cooler-than-thou characters defying gravity and good sense.

But for all the high production anime intro, in-game visuals and cracking soundtrack being uber slick and modern, Hard Corps is more eager to plug itself into a flux capacitor and offer a blast back to the golden oldie Contra series, the tough side-scrolling shooter series that nowadays some of you might be more familiar with in the realm of the digital frontiers. Back in the day, Contra was well regarded as one of the tougher platformers out there. A torch this semi-sequel to the series is now holding aloft proudly, wielding it like some arsenal-packed Statue of Liberty.

From the off, as you take your chosen character out into the battlefield and dash, shoot and double-jump you way through waves of enemies and onto the bigger bosses with brimming energy bars, you'll shed lives and continues with surprising swiftness. Learning enemy patterns and gaining the necessary bullet-dodging skills only comes with repetitive play - one of the genre's older hallmarks, love or hate it.

Hard Corps is a game you need to play with confidence, akin to free-running across four lanes of traffic without paying heed to any pedestrian crossing. The developer wants you to use that Dash move - so much so it's put it on the joypad twice.

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Hard Corps: Uprising
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Dashing is a big part of the game's flow, charging past bullet streams, dashing mid-air to make a platform, or chaining into a slide to duck under missiles. In that sense the flow is a lot more rapid than its predecessors, while cautious types will be charged by a few extra enemies if they linger in one spot too long. Even if Arc attach health bars to your characters, its likely whatever path you take, you'll spend plenty of time chiselling your epitaph on your gravestone before you see the majority of the game's eight stages, let alone its ending.

Still, fully knowing that even the best straight arcade shooter will only bring you one step closer to the dole queue these days, developer Arc Systems has outfitted the Corps with a progression-driven Rising gameplay mode. Here multiple playthroughs with your characters will earn them experience (Corps) points, that can then be used to purchase new moves, weapons and health bonuses.

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It might be a grind to get your character into any sort of ass-kicking state, but that's more because you suck at the game, no matter how much you want to call the design cheap. Don't worry, you'll get better with practice.

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Its a strong start to Microsoft's House Party promotion, and a quality shooter on its own. For those who get a little riled by launch day DLC, note that two of the characters in that intro movie are only available as a separate purchase from Xbox Live, and will set you back 200MP a pop.

For 1,200MP, you're getting a challenging shooter, which obviously means plenty of replayability and a stack of cash in the swear box come the end of a run through. The game's a looker as well, if you have the chance to look past the bullet-death rapidly zooming towards you. All this, and by packing multiple modes, both off and online, SP and MP, it does right by the ghost of Contra's past.

07 Gamereactor UK
7 / 10
+
Hardcore enough to prove challenging for most, Rising mode adds longevity.
-
Still some who won't like the difficulty, or be put off by the cartoony sheen.
overall score
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Hard Corps: Uprising

REVIEW. Written by Gillen McAllister

"It's a game that requires confidence, the sort that'd see you free run across four lanes of traffic without paying heed to any pedestrian crossings."



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