Battlefield Hardline Review

The Battlefield series has always been one of my favourite fps experiences. The destructible environments and addition of vehicles and strategy elements has always felt a more complete experience than run of the mill fps titles that restrict multi player to foot soldier combat. The series however has seemingly hit severe stumbling blocks with the last two releases. Major server issues have crippled the multi-player experience to a point where the series feels irrelevant. The single player campaign is average and feels tacked on, with frustration reaching boiling point among long-time fans EA had no choice but to introduce something that feels fresh and hopefully reignite the interest. Enter Battlefield Hardline, an entry where the Battlefield is not a war torn country, but the streets of Miami.

The setting is not the only change that Hardline introduces. Visceral Games is now in charge of the single player campaign. One would possibly be excited by this considering these guys made the excellent Dead Space series and decent Dante’s Inferno but one would also be wise to remember Army of Two: The Devils Cartel and that Dead Space 3 was average at best. The single player campaign puts you into the shoes of Nick Mendoza, a fresh faced detective whose main cases involve a drug cartel and the possibility of police corruption within his precinct.

In an interesting move the story is broken into chapters, or episodes that make the game feel like a season series of a high budget crime television show. This works really well and when returning to the game you are greeted with a rundown of what has happened in previous episodes the same way in which many shows do on a weekly basis. Mendoza isn’t the deepest of characters written into a game, an honest guy, trying to do good and walk the straight line. The story is based primarily on a drug syndicate that includes some prominent figures, and Mendoza and his partner Khai taking down said syndicate with any means possible. Presenting a police story seems like a radical change for the Battlefield series but it doesn’t take long for Hardline to feel like the previous campaigns within the Battlefield series, only with police skins and arrests. If you were hoping for a gritty crime story alike to True Detective or The Wire, you will be disappointed. Think more along the lines of Bad Boys or the new Hawaii 5-0 and you’ll realise what to expect.

So with the single player campaign barely feels different apart from police skins I was left thinking that the multi-player was going to feel like Battlefield, I was right. This is not entirely a bad thing. Yes it is bad when I experienced unstable servers, inability to connect and some lag issues, but realistically these were only experienced in the first week of release. The servers seem to be more stable this time round, with minimal issues. Perhaps EA has finally realised previous problems and how to finally fix them which gives me hope for the incoming Star Wars Battlefront title. Then again I don’t think sales are matching anywhere near those of Battlefield three or four so perhaps less stress is the saviour, not exactly something that will be probable for the Star Wars title! Also bad, or rather bizarre,is the fact that modes such as conquest still feels like a warzone, again with police versus criminals skins employed. It feels strange, I have never read a paper or seen a news article in which police and criminals are battling with machine guns, rocket launches and helicopters for of all things, a flag? Yes this is a video game but it just feels stupidly out of place.

The good things though do outweigh the bad within the multi-player. Due to feeling like Battlefield, you get those crazy situations that are only experienced with the series. Can’t kill a guy on the roof of a building? Take the entire building down. The environments don’t seem to be as destructible, possibly due to most maps being within the city with large sky scrapers but there are plenty of opportunities to use destruction to your advantage. Also the tight mechanics that have seemingly been perfected over the years is present.

What makes Hardline feel a little different, more so than the use of police/criminal skins, is the new modes available for multi-player. Heist involves criminals needing to bust into cash filled vaults and extract cash to extraction points, with the police obviously needing to stop this. Blood Money sees both teams extracting money from points on maps and returning it to their own vaults in a race to gain $5,000,000. Each can also raid their opponents vaults, there is a time limit and if reached the team with the most funds wins. Hotwire is similar to conquest, only this time round the objectives (flags) are mobile in being vehicles that are constantly in motion. There are also two 5 V 5 modes in Rescue and Crosshair. Each run for three minutes and Rescue sees two hostages needed to be rescued by police with Crosshair having police guide a VIP, or snitch to an extraction point with the criminals needing to kill him. These modes have permadeath so once you are killed you wait it out watching the game continue. Each side can also win by eliminating the five opposition players. These modes felt akin to Counter Strike and I really, really enjoyed them.

Overall Hardline is very similar to playing any previous Battlefield entry with a different skin and a few, quite enjoyable new modes given to the multi-player. Battlefield veterans and fans will feel right at home here but it is somewhat disappointing that the change of subject matter has not changed the feel substantially. Even more disappointing is the fact that Visceral had the chance to introduce something special into the single player campaign but the end result was mediocre and predictable within the series. The new modes and surprisingly smooth servers is a major bonus but most games that are being held are still conquest which is a little disappointing. Also graphically the game is a little average. I was hoping for a step in a new direction but what he have here is a half-step, or perhaps more of a stumble.

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