Hardware: Rivals is going through a round of beta testing on the PS4, and all who have an up to date PlayStation Plus membership are free to jump in and have a go. So we did, well, more specifically, I did.
I never actually played the original Hardware: Rivals back in the days of the PS2, but I’ve looked over a couple of videos as part of my research for this article and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d probably not be all that interested in it. However, the next-gen shiny blighter that I’ve been playing over the past couple of days has got me hooked, so much so that I’ve been forgetting to eat, ignoring the phone and – rather foolishly – ignoring the missus’ requests to do dishes. Yes, it’s really that good that I’m willing to take an ear-lashing.
First off, it’s not a looker. In fact, when I first booted up the Hardware: Rivals beta on PS4, I thought it was another indie game made using Unity, but this is in fact a Sony-made product by an internal studio.
It looks pretty nice and it’s bright and colourful, unlike the original. I’m a sucker for all things bright and beautiful, so the art design gets a thumbs up from me. Not everything needs to be ultra-realistic, you know.
Now, I’m not the best when it comes to online multiplayer games, namely because my reflexes just aren’t what they used to be (I’m only 25!) and I have a tendency to shout at the TV and throw a controller if I’m angry. Yeah, I broke a couple of Xbox One controllers during the launch of Halo: The Master Chief Collection and I think I cracked a PS Vita screen when playing Ridge Racer on the system. Actually, with the latter I think I was just annoyed that the game was a total sham. Still, I’ve proven myself to be a bit of a loose cannon at times, so my DualShock 4’s life was definitely on the line.
Thankfully, then, Hardware: Rivals isn’t really all that hard to pick up and play. It’s sort of like Call of Duty: Cars and Tanks, but instead of everything relying on split-second responses, you’ve actually got a bit of time on your side. Vehicles aren’t as agile as people, it would seem, even in the digital space.
Usually, my go-to online gaming consists of a bit of Pro Evo 2016 (review here) and Awesomenauts (review here, too) purely because I picked them up and instantly knew what the heck was going on. Hardware: Rivals looks like it’ll be the third game to enter my online diet. Getting into a game is easy as clicking the ‘x’ button a couple of times and waiting in a lobby. Once you’re in the game everything else is self-explanatory.
Oh, it does help that there’s a lengthy tutorial on offer, too, something I found most useful, so I highly recommend it. Or you can just dive in with your balls out and hope for the best, you brave bastards.
Once you’re in a game, there’s no looking around while hiding in a corner to figure out what the deal is: you go forth, you pick up weapon upgrades, maybe a bit of additional armour and you find your would-be victim. Easy.
Or it would be if everyone else wasn’t doing the same, but that’s the name of the game I suppose. Combat is fun and fast and there’s a bit of depth to it, too. You can always fire your main machine gun, but for maximum damage you’ll want to hunt down some of the pickups that are scattered around the colourful arenas. It’s not enough to just drive over one, though, as it’s probably not going to do the trick against an opponent with full health. You’re much better off picking an upgrade then driving around to find more of the same ammo, that way you’ve got a better chance of facing off against an enemy tank without ending up firing your pea-shooter machine gun. It’s just embarrassing to see.
Surprisingly I wasn’t too bad at it; I was actually rather good. Seriously, on my first online game I got a bunch of kills to steer my team towards victory in the classic ‘Team Deathmatch’, I also helped by not dying – not even once. Go me!
There’s a video below showing the initial training sequence and then some gameplay where I stumble around pretending to know what I’m doing. Still win, though.
Unfortunately I soon found myself sitting at the bottom of the in-match scoreboard. The next couple of games I played were against a bunch of people who were obviously friends as they stuck in the same teams over the course of two games. Like a ginger kid in the playground, I was soon cornered by the hulking bullies and kicked around until the bell rang to signal the end of the game.
Still, I didn’t back out or rage quit. That’s something, right?
If you’ve got an active PS Plus sub and a spare few gigs on your hard drive, I highly recommend getting in on the beta. It’s a good laugh and it’s free, so why not?