You may have read Hardware: Rivals is a lot like Rocket League, and I understand why. Both were free upon release for PSN members and feature cars, but that’s about where the similarities end, confusing the two past that is like mistaking a Rob Schneider film for something fit for human consumption. Rocket League was one of my favourite games of the year in 2015, and I can say safely now Hardware: Rivals won’t be making my list for 2016.
Hardware: Rivals, which was released on January 5, is the successor to the 2002 Playstation 2 game Hardware: Online Area in which cars battle it out with weapons they pick up including missiles, rail guns, lasers and EMPs. For the most part Hardware: Rivals is chaotic fun where teams face against each other amongst some cool cartoon style graphics.
When I say for the most part I mean the game is fun when you can actually get a game where people don’t leave. It may be because the game is new, or some weird mass phobia of it, but in a majority of the few rounds I have played everyone left almost immediately, and there was even one round where I was pitted against only one other guy (I totally crushed that chump).
When you do manage to get a game people stay in it’s a pretty fun game, albeit one with very little staying power. Racing around shooting into other cars is satisfying, but the lack of variety and a serious balancing issue makes the fun short lived.
Certain weapons need to be repeatedly pumped into your enemies, yet one variety of missile (which respawns in the same spots on each map) can take out vehicles in one shot. I get that the placement of these missiles is intended to create battles for supremacy in certain spots, but in reality it’s near impossible to move around whilst accurately shooting, meaning these battlegrounds end up being a parking lot of stationary cars shooting chunks out of one another and raising their insurance premiums.
There are are two varieties of vehicles that you can drive in Hardware: Rivals, heavy vehicles which look like tanks and fast attack vehicles which look like 4x4s. There are currently two types of each variety, with multiple skins available. Throughout the short tutorial the difference in types wasn’t really explained and there are no stats next to the four vehicles, so it seems the differences are solely speed/strength, which is a shame because some noticeable class differences would have been cool.
Overall Hardware: Rivals is worth a download if you’re a PSN member as it’s currently free, but I wouldn’t be too compelled to spend anything more than a few dollars on it and definitely not the AU$31.95 asking price. You might have some fun for a bit, but there certainly isn’t much making players want to stick around. The lack of content is noticeable considering the very few maps and vehicles available, saying that, it was free… so there’s that going for it. Here’s hoping the developers SCE Connected Content Group pump some more content into it and do something worthwhile with this concept over time, but at launch things aren’t looking good.
Pros: Good concept. Great style of graphics. It was free.
Cons: Not much content. Unpredictable servers. Unbalanced weapons.