When it was announced that Visceral would be working alongside DICE and EA to work on the new Battlefield game, people didn’t know what to expect. All we had was a very impressive E3 announcement and the premise: an edgy take on the job of a police officer made like a Battlefield game. In a perfect world this game would be a very fresh take on the starting-to-get-stale Battlefield franchise and a first look at a gritty cop game which we really haven’t had. You might argue that L.A. Noire was that game but the two are completely different, apples and oranges as they say. Upon release I can safely say that the campaign of Battlefield Hardline and the way it was set up was excellent. The cop drama-esque feel that the campaign carried from level to level was very enjoyable and is one that will be remembered down the road. The multiplayer on the other hand…we’ll get to that later.
Upon loading up the game and getting to the main menu, the first thing you’ll notice is that the first option isn’t to jump into the campaign, it’s the multiplayer. Now, I know that the online components of games like Battlefield and Call of Duty are the main reason most people pick up those games but it’s still odd to see ‘multiplayer’ at the top of the main menu and leads me to believe that the focus during development wasn’t the campaign but rather the multiplayer. Whether or not that was the case, I wasn’t able to tell because the campaign was incredibly fun, albeit a bit short, but still a full and complete experience.
Players take control of Nick Mendoza, the latest addition to the Miami PD. Mendoza and his new partner Khai Dao team up to take down the worst of criminals; from dirty cops to drug lords, the two have seen it all. I don’t want to give too much away but overall I thought the story was surprisingly good. It had its ups and downs like every game and there were certainly parts that completely blindsided me. The campaign is set up like a TV cop drama, in the pilot episode there’s even an intro with theme song and all. When an episode concludes and the credits roll the screen changes to look eerily identical to that of a “next episode” screen on Netflix. Upon saving and exiting the game you will be met with a “next time on Battlefield Hardline” video displaying upcoming events, and upon loading your save will be met with a “previously on Battlefield Hardline” to get you caught up on any details you may have forgotten. I really liked those touches. It certainly made the game feel more like the cop drama that they were going for. While at the end of the campaign I was left wanting more, I think the length was exactly where it needed to be but I would still like to see a Season 2 of Hardline.
Hardline’s campaign plays very differently then the Battlefield games you’ve played in the past. There is no crazy war with the middle east happening and there’s no power hungry dictators to take down. The only enemies you’ll be coming across are just low cut criminals with some big firearms. Because of the change of scenery and story, the game is given a completely fresh feel which it was desperately needing. There’s multiple ways to go about every fight in the game. Whether you want to go in guns-a-blazing or take the stealthy route and take out enemies in a large group one by one. Being a cop this time around, you have the power to walk up to criminals before they know you’re there and with the tap of a button tell them to freeze. Upon taunting them, enemies will drop their weapons and surrender, allowing you to walk up to them and detain them with handcuffs. If there are multiple enemies you surprise, you must make sure you juggle which one you’re aiming at and make sure that none of them try to pull a move and shoot at you. The whole freeze mechanic never got old throughout the game and I ended up playing a majority of the game choosing the stealth route.
Being a cop also grants you access to all the high tech cop equipment such as your scanner. The scanner allows you to view the environment and target enemies and alarms etc, very similar to Far Cry’s binoculars. The scanner was also useful in that it could highlight enemies with warrants placed on them. If you were able to get to the wanted enemy without setting off an alarm you could arrest them and get bonus experience. During the campaign while you’re solving your overarching case there are other, smaller cases to be solved. Using the scanner Mendoza can find highlighted clues throughout the levels that go towards the multiple side cases that can be solved. The clues for each case are scattered throughout the main missions and once completed offer XP rewards and new weapons.
Graphically this game took a bit of a dive. From the beautiful graphics of Battlefield 4 and even 3, Hardline has a completely different look. Possibly due to the collaboration with Visceral, but I felt as though the character models were very reminiscent of those of the Dead Space games. While the graphics weren’t on par with those of previous Battlefield games, the game by no means looked bad, in fact, it looked alright for the style they went with. Something else of note was the amount of small particles and environmental damage was definitely impressive and something we hadn’t really seen since the older titles in the franchise.
Then there’s the multiplayer. Back when Battlefield 4 was released I was excited to jump into the multiplayer of the game due to how much I enjoyed it in Battlefield 3. I was severely disappointed upon playing it and even more disappointed with Hardline’s. Almost all of the things I didn’t like about Battlefield 4’s online carried over to Hardline’s. None of the objective-based game modes interested me. When I play a Battlefield game online I like it to be deathmatch style. While there is a Team Deathmatch mode, it’s god awful. The maps are entirely too small and the rounds at 32 v 32. Yes you read that right, 64 people are running around mercilessly killing you the minute you respawn. There are multiple and very easy fixes for this (i.e. bigger maps, less people in games, etc) but I don’t see them ever being implemented. While I may not like the online game modes it doesn’t mean at all that they are bad. For someone who enjoys them they are very well done, and each of the different modes offers different challenges and maps to explore. From a typical cops vs robbers mode called Heist where the criminals are dead set on stealing a large amount of money and it’s the cop’s duty to stop them, to Hotwire, a high-speed, high-tension car gamemode where players must drive select cars throughout the city to earn points for their team. The game certainly earns points for being unique with their game modes but like I said they don’t interest me. While it’s nowhere near being my favorite Battlefield online experience, it’s not a bad one and offers a variety of ways to play.
Overall I think Hardline was a big success for all of the people involved in the making of it. Visceral and DICE wanted to set this game apart from the previous entries and I think they definitely succeeded. Battlefield Hardline is a Battlefield game I will definitely remember and will be up there with Bad Company and 1942 and a very unique and enjoyable experience. While it didn’t have my favorite online experience, it wasn’t enough to ruin the entire game for me, it had a rich and unique story and succeeded in doing something new which is always an impressive feat.