It’s a fair cop…
When sitting around a table and deciding on the setting for the next Battlefield game, EA, DICE and Visceral Games must have had plenty of choices. Battlefields, places where opposing factions have converged for the simple task of wiping each other out, have been around all through history and most likely will remain around way into the future. The Battlefield games have revolved around more recent conflicts, but in the interests of creating something fresh and new for Battlefield players to enjoy, the developers could have traveled both backwards and forwards in time for inspiration.
However, the resulting Battlefield: Hardline stays firmly within the modern realm and chooses a setting which could only loosely be called a battlefield – the urban streets of America. I have no doubt that certain areas can, during particularly bad times, be referred to as battlefields. But they are not battlefields in the traditional sense of the term, and Battlefield: Hardline is not your traditional Battlefield game. Casting the player into the role of a cop, the single player game will see shoot outs, car chases and a whole lot of criminals that the player is encouraged to arrest rather than take out with extreme prejudice. This is perhaps the most difficult aspect of the game to come to terms with as a Battlefield player – the option to just shoot everyone is there for the most part, but the game will reward players who flash their badges and make arrests. After all, you are supposed to be a good guy.
Something as simple as changing the name of the game, dropping the Battlefield from the title, could have helped players adjust their expectations of the campaign, as the most common complaint I have heard is that the game isn’t “Battlefield” enough. Cast aside the expectations, and the single player experience in Battlefield: Hardline is pretty damn great, as long as you enjoy cheesy cop shows.
So, stepping into the shoes of police detective Nick Mendoza, the player will be treated to a campaign which is set up like a TV series, with different episodes moving the core story forward. The episodes even refresh the players memory of what happened last at the beginning of the new episode.
Battlefield: Hardline has some great moments of over the top, cops and robbers action through the ten episodes. A distinct lack of ammunition coupled with rewards for the non-lethal apprehension of criminals gives much of the game a more stealthy nature, with players using their scanner to identify the criminals before sneaking up on them and flashing their badges to make an arrest, all the while being aware of alarms and such that might notify other criminals to their presence. It does seem a bit silly at times, but it is actually really enjoyable.
As the series progresses, things get even more silly with car chases, over the top situations, and even a tank getting involved at one point. The campaign is the kind of high action Hollywood movie, or TV show, that can be enjoyed without too much concentration or emotional investment.
When it comes time to enjoy the multiplayer game, things become a lot more familiar. The multiplayer experience may have smaller maps which are set in more urban locations, the vehicles may be less militaristic and the players may be cast as either cops or robbers, but most of Battlefield: Hardline’s multiplayer remains as comfortably chaotic as the previous games. A lot of the familiar game modes from the previous titles will see players enjoying the game exactly as they would have, and thankfully there is no silly badge flashing.
But Hardline comes with some new modes that change things up and really make the multiplayer shine. I have to admit that the single mode that I spent the majority of my time in is Hotwire which sets vehicles as capture points and will see the player either driving around the map at high speed, or leaning out of the window trying to shoot any threats that could end their time cruising. In a traditional Battlefield manner, the action is chaotic. The vehicle handling is perhaps not quite as sharp as you would expect, but it all adds to the crazy fun.
There are two new modes which offer a more intense, smaller experience, each of which have no respawns so the tension is ramped real high. Crosshair will see the police escorting a VIP from one side of the map to the other, while Rescue has the cops trying to get hostages away from the criminals. They are both tense modes that offer a more intimate experience, perhaps a little less chaotic than the more regular modes.
The Heist mode simply has the criminal players stealing from a vault and then making a get away. Then there is Blood Money, a mode in which cash is left in the middle of the map and players from both sides have to grab as much as they can and make it back to their own vault, all the while aware that the opposing team can steal the money from both the player carrying it and the opposing teams vault. Blood Money is a gloriously greedy mode, and a huge amount of fun.
Battlefield: Hardline features a reasonably good single player mode, which really feels nothing like a Battlefield game, and amazingly fun multiplayer which doesn’t pretend to be anything but Battlefield. As a Battlefield game, Hardline only manages mediocrity. However, taken on its own merits, Battlefield: Hardline is a fun single player and highly enjoyable multiplayer title.