Hardline isn’t just about mindlessly pulling the trigger… at first.
Fresh on the scene, Detective Nick Mendoza already has his work cut out for him. That’s just the way it is in Miami, where drugs have taken hold and corruption is running rampant in the department, and with Battlefield Hardline you get to see things from both sides of the law.
Battlefield has taken the fight to a more domestic setting, pitting cops against criminals in a drastic war over drugs and control of Miami. The team at Visceral did a fabulous job creating a story full of twists, and EA DICE once again handles things on the multiplayer front.
Whether you’re chasing down suspects on foot or barreling down an alley in a squad car, the controls in Hardline are snappy and responsive throughout. It even introduces a new twist not present in previous Battlefield games: The left shoulder is no longer bound to grenades (in single player), but instead flashes your badge at criminals in order to arrest them — as long as you got the drop on them.
Other than the badge/grenade switch, the controls are essentially identical to previous games in the franchise and very similar to most first-person shooters out there. The d-pad is still used to activate and switch between equipped gadgets, such as a riot shield or a deployable ammunition box. Plus, from time to time you’ll need to get low, so mash circle to go prone or tap it for a crouched position.
Driving is well done (aside from sometimes questionable physics) and is very comfortable as opposed to Battlefield 4. The controls for gas and brake are now bound to the right and left triggers, respectively, whereas in the last game they were both tied to the left stick, which often led to inaccurate driving and cheap deaths.
The mean streets of Miami are chock full of detail and depth, whether you’re in an upper-city ghetto or in the smooth marble corridors of a bank. Hardline handles the chaos extremely well with a smooth frame rate that will only jitter during the most insane moments of multiplayer — and even those short shunts in performance are hard to detect.
One of the more impressive graphical features is that there are real reflections of your environment shown on glass and other reflective surfaces. It only changes the gameplay in a very minute way, but being able to see an opponent around a corner in a polished stone wall behind him is a very cool and rare thing to experience.
Character modelling and facial animation is also top notch, weapon effects are nice and chunky, and the environmental effects, like hurricanes uprooting trees, are a sight to see.
Battlefield Hardline also features some of the best voice work we’ve heard in a game. Every line delivered feels ripped from a buddy cop show and every character gives a gritty, spot-on performance. The soundtrack can be a bit tough to notice amidst the explosions, gunfire and profanity, but when it takes centre stage it steals the show.
Having fun and engaging campaigns haven’t been the franchise’s strong suit, but that isn’t the case with Hardline. Not only does the storyline rope you in by taking you to beautiful and varied locations, but there is also cop work to engage in (like collecting evidence, arresting criminals, etc.) and cleverly disguised collectibles in the form of audio tracks that provide background to the story.
Detective Mendoza has got quite the workload ahead of him because the facts just aren’t adding up. Ultimately, you’ve got to collect enough evidence, and without spoiling too much, justify your actions and clear your name.
Of course, the main dish at the Battlefield table has always been the multiplayer. While Hardline’s campaign is truly fun and fresh, the real chaos begins as soon as you drop into a server. Here’s a short rundown of the current gameplay modes:
Conquest: This is an old-school favourite, capturing and defending points of interest on the map. As of now, the ticket counts are a bit low compared to other Battlefield games, which leads to pretty short games. Due to fan response, however, the amount of tickets is set to increase with an upcoming patch.
Heist: This is essentially the replacement for Rush (in which attackers progressively move up the map destroying objectives). In Heist, cops are tasked with defending various safes and evidence while criminals attempt to breach the defenses and secure an escape route to win.
Blood Money: There’s a big ol’ pile of money in the centre of the map and each team has a truck to defend and transport money to. Too often the cash zone turns into little more than a grenade factory, so tactics often go from trying to grab cash from the pile to flat-out stealing cash from the enemy team’s truck.
Hotwire: This mode simply steals the show. Take the concept of Conquest with capture points, but turn those points into sedans and motorcycles that must be kept up to speed in order to score points. Holy shit! It’s some of the most fun we’ve ever had in a game!
Rescue: Here five cops are pitted against five criminals, and usually about five civilians are caught in the middle. As an officer of the law, you’ll have to snag a civilian and carry them to an evacuation point, whereas criminals will be doing all they can to foil the police department’s plans. With only one life to live in a match, Rescue rewards methodical, smart gameplay.
Crosshair: This mode is similar to Rescue, but one player on the police side gets to assume the role of a VIP with a golden Desert Eagle. The police have three minutes to evacuate the VIP, and the criminals try to make sure this doesn’t happen by either killing the VIP or all the escorting officers. Despite the similarities to Rescue, this still warrants playtime.
Team Deathmatch: Pretty easy to figure this one out, but if you’re that guy this involves two teams shooting, stabbing, slamming and tasering one another until victory is achieved.
Aside from one very annoying single-player mission (which can be loosely described as “on rails”), Battlefield Hardline Serves up a wonderfully pulpy and humorous campaign as well as a deep multiplayer experience that is hard to pass up.