The Battlefield series has achieved quite a legacy for themselves recently. Whether via the single player campaign or online multiplayer mode, players love the realistic feel of the Battlefield games. Battlefield Hardline mixes up the original style of Army warfare and puts gamers in the roles of cops and robbers. Visceral, the studio best known for the Dead Space series, has complete control over Battlefield Hardline, but can their ability to tell a good story be enough for Hardline to have an edge over previous Battlefields?
You play as Detective Nicholas Mendoza, a cop from Miami, Florida, in the midst of a huge drug war. The way Visceral approaches the story mode is like an episodic game series where each mission is broken down in an episodic format, leaving players excited for the next episode. Mendoza is a play-by-the-book cop until he is betrayed by some of his closets friends and ends up in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. Trying to redeem himself, players will have to find out what really happened and more importantly how to stop the main villain of the game. Visceral does an excellent job of making this corrupt cop story very interesting and refreshing. We never see a cops vs robbers game done like this before and it’s nice to see a respected developer like Visceral taking some risks and hoping for the best.
Battlefield Hardline follows the tried and true formula of many other first person shooter games. At first it will hold your hand and guide you through tutorials, such as giving you an opportunity to throw a rock to distract the guards or tag some enemies through some kind of camera. But soon enough you will realize that Hardline isn’t your typical Battlefield game. This is more of a stealth game than an all out action one. There is still plenty of action scenes in Hardline, but for the most part you will have to go through set pieces flashing your badge and making arrests. The good thing is that Visercal allows players to choose the play style that best fits them, so if you want to run and gun your way through you can do that with no penalties, but if you rely on stealth to make arrests you will gain more experience points, which leads to new weapons and gadgets. The irony about this system though is that when you play stealthy, you will get rewarded with weapons that don’t fit the stealth play-style, but instead get rewarded with loud open fire guns. If the reward system was smart enough, it would reward you with appropriate items to match your play style.
After tagging enemies you will see their cone of vision, similar to the Metal Gear Solid games. You could now strategically plan your route to take out each guard. Once flashing your badge, enemies will drop their guns and surrender, but if you wait too long they will resist and start shooting. You could easily take out a room full of guards without evening alerting one and as rewarding as that is the first time, you will soon get tired of flashing your badge to make arrests.
Now for the multiplayer portion of the game, which is why most people want to play this game, I have been hearing a lot of people complaining that “this is 20$ DLC pack charged for 60$“, and I would like to say that is totally not true. Hardline is very different from Battlefield 4. There are some brilliant brand new modes in Hardline. Heists and Blood Money are the most popular modes by far. Heists will have robbers stealing and extracting loot as cops try to hold them off until time runs out and Blood Money is where both cops and robbers return money back to their base and the one who reaches the limit wins. Both of these modes are extremely fun and offers a refreshing take from the typical team death match and Domination modes that we’re used to. It’s a bummer that they took out domination though. The most interesting modes are Rescue and Crosshair, wherein the game goes on until all players die or until the mission is successfully finished. Otherwise, the match won’t end. In Rescue, cops will try to reach and secure the hostages without dying in their attempts to extract the hostages. In Crosshair, cops are tasked with escorting a V.I.P to an extraction point while robbers are commissioned to eliminate the V.I.P on site. In both of these modes, there are plenty of tension with some really cool cooperative play, but only if played correctly. Certain weapons and vehicles from previous Battlefields are no longer at your disposal because it would make no sense for tanks or fighter jets fighting in the middle of Downtown LA. Guns also have been scaled back a significant amount, where now you will have a fewer selection to choose from. However, we still have the 4 different classes though.
Hardline also has the pay for new equipment system we have seen in other games like Call of Duty, where you could pay from the get-go to purchase certain guns and equipment that you would otherwise have to level up to obtain. You get cash from essentially killing other players and completing various game mode objectives. You could switch between playing as cops and robbers in each game mode, and once the match is over you can switch sides and play the same map over again. The money you gain from playing as a cop will be shared with your robber character as well and vice versa. This does have its downside especially when you’ve spent $23,000 on a gun for your cop character only to be left with no money to upgrade your robber character. However, the gadgets are transferrable. For example if you buy the defibrillators for the cops, your robber character will get a reviving ejection pen. But it still gets frustrating and the game should allow for separate money piles for your cop and robber characters.
Players that are used to the Battlefield online gameplay will feel right at home with Hardline as the gunplay feels tight and solid. The maps in Hardline are also quite impressive. Battlefield games usually have these HUGE maps in multiplayer mode, but the maps in Hardline have been reduced in size. There is a total of 9 maps, all of which are different from one another. The confined areas in these smaller maps do raise the tension and intensity of the fights and along with that, some campy gameplay. We still have big game modes like Conquest Large which holds 64 players, and team death match, which was amped up to 64 players. But if you’re looking for change, you’ll be happy to know that there are some excellent new modes to try out. A big thing to note is the improvement in server connections in Hardline. Im happy to report that it’s not atrocious like it was with Battlefield 4. It will connect you quickly and you won’t be kicked out from the servers until you decide to leave. It’s really great to see a new multiplayer game launch with minimal problems.
EA’s Frostbite engine is still pretty impressive. The lifelikeness of the characters is imperative for players to feel immersed in the story, and Hardline understands that. I’ve played both the PS4 and Xbox One versions of Hardline. PS4 runs at 900p 60fps and Xbox One runs at 720p 60fps, and there is a slight difference between the two versions. Both plays great and looks amazing but on the Xbox One version you can see that the graphics aren’t as crisp as they are on the PS4. Cutscenes are a little different this time around as well. Usually cutscenes will take place in first person, but since the developers are going for that cinematic approach, cutscenes in Hardline are presented in 3rd person.
Visceral added some really pumped up rap and rock music in the game that suits the theme and scenes in the game perfectly. Regardless if you’re playing the multiplayer or single player mode, having the music on loud really intensify the gameplay experience. Not only is the music good but so are the voice acting and sound effects. Battlefield is renowned for their realistic gun sounds and every weapon sounds like they should.
Visceral has obviously taken some risks with Hardline and it does feel like this game pays off in the end. Battlefield players and new comers alike will very likely enjoy this cops versus robbers theme. It gives players new environments, gadgets and modes which will keep you hooked for a while. Plus if you’re not into the online multiplayer mode, the single player campaign is also a good enough reason to buy the game alone. Visceral is interested in making more Battlefield games like Hardline if sales do well, and I hope they do because this is exactly what games nowadays need – a studio to take some risks and churn out refreshing titles that people will enjoy and talk about for years. Did any of you guys pick up Hardline this week? How do you feel about it? Let me know in the comments below and for all your latest gaming reviews, keep it locked to FGE!