Hard Corps: Uprising (XBL/PSN) - Review!

Hard Corps: Uprising is a game that came out back in 2010, and was developed by Arc System Works (which is better known for their Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, and other fighitng game series, as well as the DS Visual Novel 999), and published by Konami. So, just what type of game is Hard Corps? Well, let's just say I can sum up just about this entire review using only one word. Contra! Now before you quit reading, let me clarify a few things. Yes this IS in fact a Contra game, but at the same time it is a series of its own. It has new features, a brand new art style, and it has quite a bit added to its gameplay style. So with out farther adieu, let's get to the review!

The Story of Hard Corps:

Hard Corps is a prequel to the rest of the Contra series (released on Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network), and takes place in the year 2613 when the world is controlled by an empire called the Commonwealth. They raid villages, slaughter everyone who gets in their way, and flat out take control of every nation in their path. Although many have tried fighting back, they all have failed, and the Commonwealth continues to rule. That is, until a small group of elite soldiers finally showed up to save the day.

Bahamut was a soldier in the Commonwealth army, but after seeing what whats going on, he threw away his badge and decided to form the resistance group to fight back. Krystal was a normal young woman who decided to pick up a riffle and fight back as she watched her parents get killed. She also has an eye patch over her right eye which seems to have been injured when her family was attacked. The third member of the group is the bike rider Harley, who loves to go crazy on the battle field, the fourth member is a young samurai named Sayuri (who has her own reason to fight), and the final member is Leviathan who is actually one of Bahamut's friends.

Although they may not seem like much, this small group is the only hope left for the world.

The Gameplay:

Hard Corps: Uprising is in fact a Contra game, so it plays a LOT like Contra. The game is a 2D side scroller with hundreds of enemies spread out throughout the level, your characters can jump and dodge shots, you use guns as your main weapon, you can pick up power ups (which you lose when you get hit), each level also normally features a few boss battles, and you can even play through the game co-op with a friend as well. In short, it's your standard shoot em up side scroller which you might expect to see in the arcades; however Hard Corps does have some twists of its own.

In Hard Corps characters can now double jump, they can dash on the ground, they can air dash, they can run up some walls, and there's also a few other abilities as well (such as dodge moves, bullet reflect moves, and tackle moves) to spice things up. Also unlike in other Contra games, characters actually have health bars, so it's no longer set up so getting hit once means you lose a life. Still don't let that fool you, this game is still no walk in the park!

Although you can get hit more than once now, enemies will constantly be coming at you, and thanks to the new double jump and dash moves, you now have a much wider range of options to dodge attacks, and Arc System Works decided to make the game even harder to make up for it.

That's not all though! Some levels mix up the gameplay even more and even feature some stealth elements (complete with a Metal Gear box to help you)! These sections require you to not only use your fact reflexes, but your brains as well. What's the best way to make it through this area? Should I take out the alarms then just shoot everyone? Maybe I should just take my time... All of these will be thoughts that will run through your mind as you decide what's the best action to take.

Still, all of this is even farther expanded with the new Rising Mode and Shop System!

Rising Mode:

Although Hard Corps features a standard "arcade mode" which plays like standard Contra (characters have preset skills, limited number of lives and continues, and health), there is also a new mode called "Rising Mode" which is for anyone who doesn't want to have as much of a challenge.

Basically in Rising Mode, every point you score during the level is turned into cash. You can freely play any levels you have already completed (to either find the hidden medals or shoot for a higher score), and the game doesn't really force you to do anything you don't want to do.

After you have played for awhile and racked up enough points, you can then go into the shop to upgrade your characters to make the game easier! You can buy power ups that make weapons stronger, you can increase your health and extra life count, or you can even unlock new abilities or increase your movement speed. Basically if you ever have a problem with a stage, you can simply "farm" points, go buy a new upgrade, and then go back through and destroy it.

Still if you're the type of person who actually wants a challenge, you really don't have to make this mode easier if you don't want to! Every power up you buy in the shop can be turned on or off, and every character has their own shop. Even if you do buy every power up as one character, there's still the others to do the very same for. This really helps add to the replay value of the game.

The Arc System Works Style:

This is something I can't pass up talking about. While other Contra games are dark and gritty, Hard Corps uses a nice new fresh style, one that I'm sure you've seen before if you have ever played an Arc System Works game. Yep that's right! Conta has gone anime styled!

The game uses nice and bright anime styled HD sprites, in a 3Dish cell shaded world! Just like with games like BlazBlue, everything really pops, and the entire game is just filled with eye candy. Besides all of that, the game's musical score was actually created by the very same team that did BlazBlue's outstanding music, and it is filled with songs you are sure to remember. Everything just really fits the game well, and you'll find yourself enjoying its style just as much as its gameplay. The anime opening is pretty cool as well!

The Good and the Bad:

Hard Corps: Uprising does a lot right. It captures the Contra style fans know and love, it returns to the Contra III style of play (with two weapon slots), it adds in its own new features to mix up the gameplay, it's got a nice simple story, the graphics are amazing, the music is amazing, the Konami code is used in a nice way (I won't spoil it for anyone), and the Rising mode is a VERY much welcomed addition. The game also really pushes you to get better, and the entire game does in fact rely on skill so you won't ever feel like you were cheated either. There's actually only ONE real downside to it...

If you want to play as anyone else other than the original two main characters (Bahamut and Krystal), you'll have to pay extra. While the game itself is only around $15, the DLC characters are a few bucks extra if you want to use them. Although you really don't have to buy them if you don't want to, it's really too bad that you couldn't just unlock them. On top of that, the samurai actually makes the game MUCH easier, and basically breaks the gameplay. In short, she is the easy way out character...

Other than that, there really isn't much to complain about. If you like Contra games, you should check it out for sure; if you don't, then you may want to go download that free demo and try it out for yourself.
Either way, Hard Corps: Uprising, gets a solid 10/10. You can't get any more old school than this!


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