After dying for the third time in a row stepping out of the elevator on the top floor of the skyscraper, I knew I needed to take a new approach. The enemy team had at least half a dozen players staring at those elevator doors, protecting the outpost on the top of the highest building on the map. I made my way over to the adjacent building and rode the elevator to the roof. I set up my sniper rifle and aimed across the gap between buildings. I could see the enemies guarding the elevator in my scope. They were standing still making for easy targets. I was able to take our two of them before anyone noticed, and I hit a third, but he quickly dove behind cover. With perfect timing, the elevator doors opened to reveal five players on my team bursting out guns at the ready. They now outnumbered the enemy and they over powered them. I took a quick moment to relax as I watched the second elevator doors open revealing more of my team to storm the floor. I was content with my team never knowing how I helped. After all, it was just a small victory in a long match that was far from over.
Battlefield: Hardline couldn’t be further from the Battlefield series in almost every way, but there are some instances (like the one above) where it shines brightly for what Battlefield has become famous for. I need to be very clear saying this: you cannot play Hardline expecting it to be like Battlefield. Besides the shallowest core gaming mechanics and the graphics, everything feels very different when it comes to Hardline. In fact, I will do my utmost to not even compare it to a previous Battlefield title in this review. Hardline tries to be something new in the series, and I respect that, even if some of their ideas fall short. That being said, the time I have spent with Hardline has been nothing but fantastic.
The campaign is composed of 10 episodes and is definitely worth experiencing, even with its flaws. The characters snap out witty lines and some may earn a chuckle. The characters feel very real, and are all well-voiced. You play as Nick Mendoza, a new officer in the VICE department, and it doesn’t take long to realize a major drug war is taking place. Surprise, surprise, there are some corrupt cops involved. Every twist and turn is seen miles away, but that doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining when they occur. Instead of trying to think of this as a realistic cop drama, it’s better to think of it as a cliché 80’s cop show.
You may have guessed, but Hardline’s campaign is a little different than the previous games. Being a cop means you aren’t trying to shoot everything that moves. You’re supposed to make arrests. I’ll leave the obvious pop culture commentary possibilities aside, and just assume good cops don’t shoot a lot of people.
Most levels start with a big open area, an objective to reach, and a plethora of guys in your way. You can mark the enemies with a scanner and then determine how you want to reach your objective. You can open fire right away if that’s what you want, or you can go around silently arresting people. The best way I can describe the feeling of Hardline’s campaign is comparing it to Far Cry. It’s almost identical. The enemies can even become aware of you if spotted, and if you disappear from sight long enough they will have to search for you. I’m not complaining about the blatant Far Cry rip-off, because it’s a great system. The problem is how this same system can be great in one game, ends up being boring, easy, and downright silly at times.
As bad as it sounds, you play Battlefield to shoot people, not arrest them. Hardline tries hard to steer you in this morally correct direction by only giving you points for being nonviolent. The points unlock new equipment…like guns…guns that the game doesn’t want you to use. Shooting people will generally reward you with zero points, and even knocking an unaware enemy out will net you less points than arresting him. I completed an entire area without shooting a single person, leveled up, and was given a shotgun. It’s a mixed message to say the least.
In fairness, there are moments when firing a weapon is the only option, and having those better guns are nice. However, you can certainly see the problem. When I get a nice, shiny sniper rifle, I want to use it. Yet, Hardline continues to push me in the direction of nonviolence, while teasing me with all the possibility of violent fun.
I played through the campaign the way it constantly pushed me in the direction of. I snuck around the levels, arresting people as much as possible, only taking lethal action when necessary. Hardline made a nice attempt at playing in a new way, but it feels awkward. Almost like you aren’t actually supposed to be playing this way, and unloading an entire clip into an enemy force is the proper way to play.
Take arresting people for example. You can hold up your badge, tell a person to freeze, and then handcuff them. Ignoring the impossible amount of handcuffs Mendoza carries on him, this does work great with one person, because it makes sense. You can arrest up to three people at once, and then things are a little quirky. As you take the couple seconds to toss the handcuffs on one suspect, the other two stand there patiently waiting to be handcuffed as well.
Now if a fourth person happens to stumble up on you in the process of arresting three people, suddenly they all pull out guns and shoot you. You have to ignore the obvious question of why the two people waiting patiently to be arrested don’t pull out their weapons without the fourth person. I can happily ignore that. What annoys me, as bloodthirsty as it sounds, is not being able to shoot the people you have told to freeze.
This is important because there were times I was in the process of arresting three people when another enemy was walking towards us. I wanted to put a bullet in the people who were standing with their hands up, but it doesn’t let you. If I turn my back, they will pull out their guns and shoot. So I stood there and waited until the fourth person saw us so the game would unlock my gun. It’s these strange instances that shows Hardline’s true colors.
It pretends that you decide your moral compass, but in reality, it’s only if you follow their strict guidelines. It tries so hard to push you in a direction not to be violent, but at every turn, Hardline’s brilliance is in the violence. The best parts of the campaign were being in firefights in close-quarters. Walls bursting into pieces, cover being shredded apart, windows shattering, and many, many explosions. The sound of the weapons firing is still music to my ears and hearing the difference of a gun shooting inside compared to outside is always more important to me than I care to admit. Hardline tries hard to be different, and it made a good attempt, but no matter how hard it tries. It’s still a Battlefield game, and most of Battlefield’s fun comes from getting to shoot people.
The other main issue with the slower paced campaign is how easily it can show the issues with the A.I. They feel very stiff and formulaic. When you are spotted, you can run away and hide. They still know exactly where you are, until a certain time has passed. Five guys slowly walked towards my exact spot, and they were only feet away on the other side of a wall. Suddenly, they all stopped, claimed they lost me, and walked away. They never checked the area where they last saw me. Also, not that it matters, your teammates are completely useless. I don’t think I saw them kill a single person, but don’t worry, you can do it all yourself anyways.
Hardline may be Battlefield in some ways, like the fun gunplay, but it is still very different. Nothing shows this more than the multiplayer. The classic game mode Conquest will give you the best Battlefield experience, but don’t ignore the other modes. There are some pretty clever additions that have entertained me greatly, which is good, because they have taken away my favorite mode Rush.
Luckily, they have added a new favorite mode called Hotwire. The premise is the same as any domination type game mode. There are posts you need to capture and whoever holds onto these points will win the game. The one twist is these points are actually cars, and the only way to “capture” them is by driving fast. Your teammates ride with you, and can lean out the window to protect you from the enemies. Needless to say, there are plenty of high speed chases that will provide you with plenty of thrills. Of course, teamwork is imperative, and three cars riding together as a convoy will fight off pursuers more easily. Make no mistake, even if you don’t use teamwork and it’s all chaos—it’s the best kind of chaos.
My second favorite mode is Blood Money, where both teams have to steal cash from a crate in the middle of the map, run back to their vault, and safely deposit it. It has a great feeling like capture the flag, but only more chaos with multiple bags of loot being carried by different people. You can steal from the other team’s vault, which also means you need to protect your own. It’s best played on short maps, while Hotwire is best played on large maps.
There are even a few modes that only give you one life, something totally new to Battlefield. These games are tense and surprisingly fast paced. They only last a couple minutes long at most, usually with an objective to rescue a hostage or guide a NPC through the map. These modes are made to be played with friends and concise teamwork. So if you don’t like giant 32 vs 32 player matches, these one still offer plenty of thrills in a totally different manner.
Overall, the multiplayer doesn’t satisfy me as much as previous Battlefield games, but as I stated earlier, I’m trying my best not to compare Hardline to the other entries in the series. Hardline technically plays the same, but overall it feels very different. The battles don’t feel as big, the weapons don’t feel as heavy, you have less health (it seems), aiming is easier, and numerous other small differences that only Battlefield veterans will care about. This is not a negative, but definitely worth stating for all you longtime Battlefield fans out there. Hardline has a great multiplayer, and that’s understating it. Make no mistake, if you are looking for a solid FPS to lose days of time logged in online, Hardline is your answer.
The best way to play Hardline is not taking it seriously, and understanding from the get-go it isn’t the usual Battlefield game you’re used to playing. Its campaign pushes you down a morally righteous path, but the fun rests with going the sinful route. Sneaking around is certainly fun, but sometimes you just want to use all the firepower you are rewarded with for being good. The idiotic and formulaic A.I. only decrease the tension that being stealthy should give you. Truly, the most fun is when the bullets start flying and everything is bursting into pieces around you.
On a multiplayer standpoint you are still going to have riotous amounts of fun. That’s practically guaranteed. The jets, tanks, attack helicopters, and various other vehicles are certainly missed, but the gunplay is still top-notch. The new modes are welcomed additions that will entertain you for hours, and you’re sure to walk away with plenty of absurd stories. Hardline may not be my favorite Battlefield, but riding in a car with three armed men hanging out the window, chasing down another car while a helicopter bears down on us, and blasting hip-hop on the in-game radio has never felt so good.
This review is based off a retail copy of the Playstation 4 version of Battlefield: Hardline developed by Visceral Games and distributed by Electronic Arts.
- Campaign Offers Player Options
- New Multiplaye Modes Are A Blast
- Tries To Be Different...
- ...But Nothing Revolutionary
- Weak Campaign Story
- Mixed Reward System