I have to let you into a little secret here because I’m not sure how you’re going to take this: I never played Resident Evil. And you can say what you like about that fact but given that I was probably 12/13 when that game came out and my brother was actually quite protective of the things I watched and played, it probably wasn’t going to happen. In the UK, that game was a 15-rated game and I doubt my parents would have let me play it either. But it didn’t bother me. I actually didn’t have much interest in a game like that anyway. I was never and am still not a fan of the horror genre.
And before you get started on anything else: yes I am going to address the drastic innuendo in the game’s title as soon as possible.
But as for Resident Evil, you can go back to eating your Jill sandwiches and mastering lock-picking without me because that’s a boat I’m not boarding until I genuinely have to.
And after playing Hard Edge, I doubt I’ll be getting there any time soon.
Strangely enough, Hard Edge isn’t the game’s stupidest title. That honour goes instead to the US title name T.R.A.G. – or Tactical Rescue Assault Group: Mission of Mercy – I really wish I wish kidding you but I’m genuinely not. Someone in the US department of names, I dunno who the hell names this stuff, thought that Hard Edge wasn’t going to be a good enough name so they called it T.R.A.G. Mission of Mercy and genuinely, GENUINELY thought it was a good idea IT WAS NOT. I suppose they obviously saw the hilarious penis references to the game’s original title or they didn’t understand what a hard edge was.
There’s a joke in there somewhere. Two if you count that shitty title they gave to this game. ANYWAY.
Let’s put Hard Edge into perspective for a moment and explain what the game is.
IT’S RESIDENT EVIL. IN A BUILDING.
No, no, no. You can bandy it about all you like. It’s Resident Evil set inside a high-rise skyscraper building. Only… without the zombies and with mutants – I am not fucking kidding you – and robots – I am still not fucking kidding you.
IT’S RESIDENT EVIL IN A BUILDING, PEOPLE.
And therein lies the reason as to why I really, really don’t want to play Resident Evil straight away after playing this piece of garbage. Because essentially this game is trying to emulate what the Playstation’s premier zombie franchise did, it showcases to me what I really won’t like in that game…
NEVER have I ever had the pleasure of playing a game with tank controls and HOLY SHIT I really, really do not want to subject myself to that ever again because it’s almost physically painful to the point where you turn your character SO SLOWLY and in that space and time, you think to yourself “I could be doing something much more fun right now like breaking my own wrist with the controller” and you would actually not be too far off.
TANK CONTROLS… ARE THE WORST. I can think of a few things that are AS bad as them… death traps in Sonic games, flies, my love life, the fact I don’t own a dog, the whole of Toshinden 3… yeah. Those things all suck.
STORY TIME, PEOPLE! So the Togusa building has been taken over by some terrorists and the Tactical Rescue Assault Group – hooooooly shit that name – have been sent in to try and defeat them without… y’know… letting everything blow up and all that. Only two operatives have survived the deadly traps laid out for them and those two are your main characters! Because if they were dead, we’d have a different game entirely. Like Resident Evil.
And as well as this, you discover that one of the city’s leading scientists has been taken hostage by the terrorists so you sorta have to save him as well… but at least you also get the help of ridiculously cocky brute Burns Byford – that is his name – and the scientist’s schoolgirl daughter character Rachel, who fights with tonfas and has the worst voice acting you could currently fathom. Her voice acting comes up regularly on bad voice acting lists and with good reason. It’s atrocious. And she has a cybernetic brain.
It’s trying to be a combination of lots of different films all rolled into Die Hard, isn’t it? All we need is for one of the main characters to yell ‘yippee-ki-yay motherfucker’ and we’ll basically have Die Hard in vidya game form. Only worse. Well of course it’ll worse. It’s fucking Die Hard, what film is better than Die Hard – DO NOT ANSWER THAT OR MY BROTHER WILL KILL YOU.
We’ve been down this road before. Just go with it.
So we’re introduced to our plucky duo of characters Alex and Michelle and early on in the game’s introduction, you get the choice of which of the two you’d like to play as and both of them have their own unique ways of going about things. Michelle uses a knife to slash at enemies and skitters back and forth out of the way of them or towards them, while Alex uses infra-red goggles to be able to see in dark rooms and uses both his fists for fighting or a gun.
Which I would normally say makes the fist-fighting redundant but it really, really doesn’t. Aiming with the gun is abysmally over-accurate. You don’t get auto-aiming (at least I’m not sure if you do or not because the CONTROLS ARE SO SHIT) and you have to be directly facing them without any tiny deviations to hit something. The level of exactness in aiming is nigh-on maniacal from the developers, in much the same way as their dreadful scripting and atrocious voice acting choices are.
At the start of the game, the characters are separated by a bomb blast annihilating the stairs so the character you choose has to find another way out and this is where the first problem with the game occurs.
What the fuck are you supposed to do?
I mean… whatthefuck? Thefuckamidoing? Thfuck? Whamido?
THIS GAME MAKES NO SENSE.
There is absolutely no sense of direction in the game in that you end up wandering round corridors aimlessly until you just happen to do something that just so happens to… do something else. You walk into a room and wander around it. There could be absolutely bugger all happening in this room but you’ll walk into it. It could activate something, give you something or you might find NOTHING. It doesn’t matter.
BUT IT SHOULD MATTER.
The amount of traversing the game makes you do on the first level alone is genuinely baffling. What are you looking for? You’re looking to find another way down the building. You find a lift at one point but it doesn’t work… and it won’t work… apparently. Because it never did. Lift ex machina. Or not. I dunno. IT’S A USELESS LIFT.
And in order to power the lift you are GOING to use – because it’s not this one – you have to go through door A to get to room B to find item C in order to go through door D because if you try to go through door E, you’ll find item F and actually you don’t even need that and after passing through door G to get to room H, you’ll find the item you need… in order to get through to room I and find item J… which will help you pass through door K into room M and corridor N and NONE OF THIS FUCKING MAKES ANY LOGICAL SENSE!!!
THERE’S NOTHING HERE THAT GIVES YOU THIS EXPOSITION. YOU ARE TOLD NOTHING. YOU ARE EXPECTED TO GET ON WITH THINGS. EXPLORING THINGS DOES NOT ALWAYS GIVE YOU THE LOGICAL SOLUTION. There’s a dart board with a note on it – WHY IS THERE A DART BOARD WITH A NOTE ON IT? WHO PUTS A NOTE ON A DART BOARD? IN FACT: WHO PUTS THE SOLUTION TO A DOOR SECURITY CODE ON A NOTE AND PINS IT ON A DART BOARD?
There aren’t any people around in this building – for the obvious reason that most of them are either dead or hostages – and as such, progression through the game feels incredibly tedious and forced. It doesn’t really lead you in the right direction and when you do happen to find what to do, you’ll have to go from one end of the floor to the other through silly amounts of doors in order to do the thing you’re meant to do to progress to the next part and it’s… so, so dull, it doesn’t even conjure up any real feelings other than sleep. And sleep isn’t a feeling. THAT IS THE LEVEL OF INCOHERENT BOBBINS WE’RE DEALING WITH HERE.
Looking past the gameplay – because it’s bothering me far more than is duly necessary, the game is quite clearly modelling itself on Resident Evil in a slightly more urban way. The characters are very ordinary looking with enormous eyes and move around in standard 3D model ways. They’re so perfunctory-looking that it’s difficult to be mean without basically saying that the PS1 polygon models mostly sucked. The major issue is that this game came out in 1999 and yet we got Tekken 3 in 1998 and that game looked ten times better. Even the original character models from Resident Evil, AND I KNOW I HAVE MENTIONED THIS A DOZEN TIMES BEFORE ALREADY BUT REMEMBER THAT HARD EDGE IS BASICALLY THAT GAME IN A BUILDING, are better than these and they’re from 1996.
The backgrounds too are pre-rendered and pretty much follow the same suit as that other game. You know… the one this is based off. But in a building. Die Hard. That’s the one. The problem is that it’s kind of not fair to say that the game itself looks awful when it doesn’t really. It looks reasonable enough. You don’t get washed out in a seas of dark colours, you can see the characters well enough and MOST things stick out so that you can see them.
It’s when things in the pre-rendered backgrounds fade into the background – PUN INTENDED – that we add fuel to the fire in terms of what the game is essentially trying to do. What it wants to do is provide you with a challenge and tries to give you the tools to do it. What it ends up doing is making you want to smash your own wrist with the controller because you haven’t spotted the slightly lighter coloured piece of texture on the table which shows where you’re supposed to go next…
In the end, Hard Edge tries to be a really campy, yet gritty and urban version of a game that already was quite urban and gritty… I mean… if anything, Resident Evil 2, a game that came out before this, was set in the city and that’s pretty urban and gritty… I dunno. I really don’t know what the developers were trying to achieve with this game. The fact that some of the enemies are mutants doesn’t mean it’s NOT Resident Evil.
“WE HAVE MUTANTS, THEY HAVE ZOMBIES!”
“NO ONE WILL TELL THE DIFFERENCE!”
“WE ARE GENIUSES!”
No. You’re really not.
And as such, Hard Evil… I mean Resident Edge…
This game sucks.