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Operation Hardcore (Steam) Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Despite getting the basics right, I wish there was more of a hook to Operation Hardcore. The action is fast and the gameplay is solid, but this brand new action game covers a lot of familiar ground. The good news is that it's cheap, retailing for no more than $6. That's a good price for what you get, and I can't imagine fans of this style of run-and-gun experience will be disappointed. Operation Hardcore is far from essential, but certainly not a bad way to kill a couple hours. Rating: 64%
Operation Hardcore (Steam)
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Operation Hardcore (Steam) Operation Hardcore (Steam) Operation Hardcore (Steam) Operation Hardcore (Steam)
  • Review Score:

  • B-
You don't mess with the 1980s. Be it aliens, drug lords or communists, the decade had an almost unlimited supply of muscular macho men ready to step up and stop the intruders right in their tracks. And it wasn't just in a steady stream of violent movies starring prominent body builders, but also some of the most popular video games. We loved the idea of seeing the manliest men defy both physics and logic to preserve the American way of life.

All of those old 1980s cliches are back in Operation Hardcore, a brand new action game inspired by the likes of Contra and Metal Slug. You play one of four badass soldiers who become completely outraged after catching wind of an alien invasion. Instead of waiting for the world's armies to devise a plan of attack, we grab our guns, cigars and whiskey and set out on an adventure to show the galaxy why you don't mess with the human race.


If you've played a run-and-gun action game before, then you already know what to expect from Operation Hardcore. This is a simple 2D shooter where you're basically limited to racing around the small levels gunning down enemies and double jumping to hard-to-reach platforms. You fight through a dozen locations that are filled with nasty bosses and good, old-fashioned fun. It's not especially original, but it's a winning formula that has worked for more than three decades.

Of course, it helps that Operation Hardcore gets all of the basics right. We're given a choice between four compelling characters, we fight through a wide range of diverse stages and you can even upgrade the heroes between rounds. I also like that you can hold the trigger buttons to lock in your shot's direction or stand in one place and shoot in 360 degrees. It's clear the developers spent a lot of time playing run-and-gun shooters in the lead-up to making this game.

Operation Hardcore (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Despite all of this, I found that Operation Hardcore lacked the same kind of urgency you found in games like Gunstar Heroes and Midnight Resistance. There just isn't that much happening in each stage, and it often feels like you can stroll through the battlefield at your own leisurely pace. It doesn't help that there aren't many enemies to fight or bullets to dodge. In fact, most of the challenge comes from the wildly inconsistent damage you take from each hit. Some shots will take a quarter of your life, while others will kill you on the spot.

I was also disappointed by the lack of firepower. You start out with the basic pea-shooter and can pick up a couple different weapons, including a short-range flamethrower and a powerful laser gun that requires a brief charge. None of these weapons are especially interesting to use and the paltry selection feels like a step back when compared to other games in the genre. The same goes for the ending, which is both abrupt and forgettable.

Operation Hardcore (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

To Operation Hardcore's credit, I like that the developers thought about breaking up the action with fun little flying sections. These brief levels are a lot closer to Gradius than Contra, even though the basic gameplay remains the same. It's also worth pointing out that some levels have secret exits, giving players a lot of incentive to replay the game in order find all of the hidden stages.

Despite getting the basics right, I wish there was more of a hook to Operation Hardcore. The action is fast and the gameplay is solid, but this brand new action game covers a lot of familiar ground. The good news is that it's cheap, retailing for no more than $6. That's a good price for what you get, and I can't imagine fans of this style of run-and-gun experience will be disappointed. Operation Hardcore is far from essential, but certainly not a bad way to kill a couple hours.
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