I'm having a strange issue with this mod, somehow similar to Kelios' one.
I installed it with Bootleg 0038, using the "multi-mode" option.
So, I started BootLoaded and started a new game with the "Hardcore" option selected. But the game was normal (Cloud starting at lv06 and the normal weak enemies in the reactor). So, I saved, closed the game and restarted.
The encouters were strange: I met red panthers and other enemies I'm pretty sure I shouldn't have found until later. I assumed the higher difficulty was part of the mod, but they still felt "off" (the enemies models were completely differen from the ones you normally find: even the first scripted encounter with the two soldiers somehow turned into a fight against four red panthers).
Then, I suddenly met Air Buster as a random encounter.
I closed the game and started a new one, and again it's completely normal, as if I didn't select this mod.
I don't know if it's an issue with the hardcore mod or bootleg, so I'm posting this here hoping the problem has already been found and resolved by someone else...