William Shakespeare once wrote, “What’s in a name?” And while flowers may smell just as sweet with any other name, a name can lead to an air of expectation. Unlike other titles in the franchise, Battlefield Hardline concentrates on the war on the streets between law enforcement and drug dealers.
Let’s look at the single player experience to start. Miami is plagued by a drug called hot shot, gangs taking control of the streets, and crooked cops. The shining light in all this grime is you, Nick Mendoza. He and his partner, Khai, must follow the drug supply chain to the top in an attempt to clean up the city. But of course, there is resistance at every turn and it soon becomes clear that power can breed corruption.
Gameplay shifts the focus from the traditional kill-everything-in-sight to a more thoughtful approach. As you’re an officer of the law, you’re rewarded for doing things by the book. Players can survey the area ahead, tag enemies to keep an eye on them, distract them by pinging shell casings around, and arrest them by flashing the badge and taking them down. And, for the most part, they’ll go willingly…and without causing a fuss that might alert their buddies.
Of course, when the bullets do start flying, it feels more like Battlefield. You’ll have to choose your cover carefully, as some of it is prone to breaking in front of your eyes, minimize the number of bullets that hit you, and seek out a quiet spot if you have been taking damage. But if you want to rack up points and play the game the way we feel the developers intended, you should fire your gun as infrequently as possible.
Strangely, the unlocks you earn tend to be bigger and louder guns, which is in contradiction to the way you’re rewarded for playing. But then again, there are times when force is required, so you’ll be glad to have unlocked some beefier weaponry when things go south.
The story is presented well and features excellent performances from the likes of Nicholas Gonzalez, Kelly Hu, Travis Willingham, Benito Martinez, and Adam J. Harrington. No doubt, you’ll have seen the plot before, but the characters and animation work make it more engaging.
But any shackles on gun-toting that the single player experience may wear are well and truly cast aside for multiplayer. The two sides of this coin are very different. Hardline implements five new game modes, the most notable of which is Hotwire. This involves teams stealing vehicles and driving them around above a minimum speed to hold them and rack up points. It’s the equivalent of Conquest, except on wheels and with mobile control points.
Other new additions include Blood Money, in which teams try to fill their bank from a central money pile; a VIP protection mode called Crossfire, which is similar to the classic Team Fortress mode where you try to escort a VIP to a drop off point; and Rescue, where cops try to extract hostages from the grips of the criminals. There are seven modes in total, which should appeal to new and experienced Battlefield players alike. It is essentially a best-of game modes from other titles, wrapped up in Battlefield’s presentation and mechanics.
When approaching the single player, you’re better off ignoring the Battlefield name attached to it. By the same token, once you enter multiplayer, you should forget that it’s cops versus criminals. Otherwise you may find it quite disconcerting to see cops running around toting grenade launchers. Instead, just think of it as Team A versus Team B, or the good old Red versus Blue.
The multiplayer experience is just as tight as you’d expect at this stage from something bearing the Battlefield name. Perhaps that’s why they stuck with it…And, like other titles in the franchise, there is quite a bit of fun to be had.
BattlefieldHardline as a whole may have deviated significantly from what the series is known for, but it’s still quite entertaining. Its story, while familiar at this stage, is probably one of the better ones in recent memory thanks to the performances and base-level mechanics. The multiplayer is goofy and chaotic, but quite a bit of fun with some varied game modes that should keep you occupied for a while.