Review: Battlefield Hardline (Xbox One)
- Release Date (NA): March 17, 2015
- Release Date (EU): March 19, 2015
- Publisher: Electronic Arts
- Developer: Visceral Games
- Genres: FPS
- ESRB Rating: Mature
- PEGI Rating: Sixteen years and older
- Also For: Computer, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
Let’s be fair here, most people buy a game like Battlefield strictly to play multiplayer. However, Hardline’s campaign was a surprising treat to jump into and play.
The way the campaign is set up is actually rather interesting. It takes on an episodic feel, but doesn’t actually require you to download any episodes to play. The UI is an almost Netflix lay-out that allows you to choose the episode (level) of the game. Finishing an episode takes you to a results screen, and starts counting down to the next episode to play. You can of course, just hit A and move right on to the next episode, but I thought the lay-out was rather clever.
But aside from witty level choice design, the actual gameplay of the campaign is the most interesting part of the game.
You play as detective Nick Mendoza, a rookie Miami detective with heroic intentions. The story isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, but it’s told so well that I actually got really immersed in what I was playing. Conspiracies, wise cracks, betrayal; all it lacked was sunglasses and one liners from David Caruso.
Now oddly enough, going into battlefield I expected to spend the whole game running and gunning my way as some badass heroic cop with no remorse for shooting every drug dealer in sight. And don’t get me wrong, if that’s your thing, you can ABSOULTELY play that way. But for someone looking for a stealthier, by the books gameplay style that doesn’t involve getting blasted every few seconds, you can play that way as well!
You’re rewarded more heavily for playing stealthy and by the books as well. To start off, Hardline introduces a mechanic of being able to force enemies to “freeze”, by flashing your detective badge at them, then by holding them at gun-point. Rather than shooting them however, you can instead move up to them and, with a click of the right stick, force them to the ground and handcuff them. Doing so gives you more experience points, which allow you to rank up in the campaign and unlock new weapons, attachments, and equipment.
Playing this way allows you to avoid heated encounters with hordes of enemies, and instead stealthily take down everyone in strategic bursts through arrests. Rest assured, apparently Mendoza carries 6 million pairs of handcuffs with him at all times, so you can arrest as many enemies as you like!
Most levels are designed to give you plenty of cover to allow you to stealth your way through, or provide a nice little shield to duck under after you mow down enemies with gunfire. Either way, most levels are relatively linear and don’t provide a lot of alternative routes. They’re very straightforward and to the point though, and allow for a lot of versatility for your playstyle.
In order to keep track of enemies, you are given a scanner that allows you to see an AR display of enemies in the room, which you can use to scan and mark enemies on the map, find evidence to scan for unlockables and bonus points, as well as scan for higher profile enemies that may have warrants for their arrest. Taking these enemies down provide a large exp bonus, and other rewards. Keep in mind though, they want the guy alive, so killing everyone in sight may not always yield you the best rewards.
There’s a lot of strategy that can be used to play through Hardline's campaign, and your playstyle makes all the difference in length and enjoyment. Playing guns blazing is by no means, any less fun than playing stealthy, and it’s a breath of fresh air to have more options in a high octane action game like the Battlefield franchise.
Not that the game doesn't keep its over the top explosive action going. You’re still going to get to hop in a tank and blast up a crazy militant outpost, have turbo charged police chases, and be faced with situations where hordes of enemies aren’t going to wait for your badge and handcuffs to come out and stop them. Hardline had a very interesting campaign balance that I really enjoyed, and while it’s only about a 7 hour experience, I feel it was well worth the inclusion and playthrough of the game.
The character line-up for the game is also worth mentioning, as each character's portrayal and acting was phenomenal. There were very few real cheesy moments to the characters or story, and I actually laughed a lot, hated a few smug pricks, and loved the “don’t give a crap” attitude the characters so naturally portrayed. Everything in the game can be over-the-top and goofy, but considering how the game is presented as a nighttime Netflix cop-action-drama, I think it was the perfect fit.
Graphically the game looks astounding. As I said before, the characters look phenomenal, environments are gorgeous and alive, from concaving cities, to the Floridian swamps filled with dangerous wildlife and beautiful but murky waters. Everything runs at a smooth 720p, 60FPS on the Xbox One version, with the frames never dropping even in the most explosive of instances. Visceral also made sure to throw in some pretty funny Easter eggs that you should keep an eye out for!
Playing the game with headphones was a real treat as well, as the environments boasted sounds from simple cars driving by, to passerby conversations and flies buzzing around you. The soundtrack of the game is really something too, I think every song fit every situation in the game. Rock and Roll blasting during huge action scenes, to R&B music bumping while you take down bad guys in a club, it only adds more to the game.
Now while I gush about the game to this extent, I do have to admit there were some strange instances while playing as well. First of all, going back on the arrest mechanics I mentioned above, it feels a little broken when actually utilizing it to its full extent. When flashing your badge, you can freeze up to 3 enemies at a time, and as long as you keep your gun trained on all of them, you can move in and arrest them all. Now, you can do this rather quickly, but it’s a little tedious at the same time. You’re going to watch that animation A LOT if you play stealthily, and not to mention that using it feels kind of arbitrary after a while. I mean, you’re freezing 3 people at once, and arresting one of them while the other two just kind of stand there and wait to be arrested.
You won’t always have an AI partner with you, so it doesn't make sense that while you’re busy handcuffing one guy, the other two don’t even try to attack you. And as long as you are quick in the draw of flashing your badge, you can get through the entirety of some levels without having to fire a single shot. Granted it’s meant to emphasize the stealthy game mechanics but come on, we’re fighting a bunch of criminals here, are they really that respectable to a police badge that they won’t make a move once it’s been flashed in their eyes?
Either way, I think the overall campaign experience was very enjoyable, and is absolutely worth checking out. But aside from the campaign, there’s also a LOT more to play outside of it. Like, oh maybe… Multiplayer?
Hardline's multiplayer was an interesting play. To start off, the games are still just as huge as you’d come to expect from a battlefield game, with multiplayer matches ranging from 48-66 people all driving, flying, zip-lining, and raining bullets from all directions. And the best part of it all is there’s a gamemode for everybody!
Feel like gunning down bad guys with little to no rules, scoring points, and straight annihilating the enemy? Conquest mode still exists from its previous battlefield iterations, and has all of the above for you, as well as vehicular combat and massive 66 player matches.
Do you want to play a more supportive role and disrupt enemies, support the team, and strategize your way to victory? The now dubbed “Hacker mode,” lets you disrupt enemy equipment, hijack cameras for hacking abilities and give you a multitude of ways to support the team without ever having to fire a shot, all the while working together to clear objectives or get the highest score.
Have an itch for sheer mayhem pumped full of adrenaline and fast paced gameplay? The new Hotwire mode brings in old concepts like capture the flag or conquest, and applies them to a vehicular level. What does this mean for you? It means holding onto a vehicle as long as possible and driving it around with a crew of teammates providing support from within it.
The goal is to stay in the car and keep it running as long as possible. The enemy of course has the same goal, which means there is constant car chases, volleys of grenades and bullets, and explosives like it’s the 4th of July.
And don’t think you can just camp somewhere under a bridge with your car. Hotwire is all about speed, which is the only way to rack up points for your team. You don’t have to worry too much about never being able to catch the speeding cars either. Battlefield offers plenty of ways to take on the vehicles, ranging from faraway precision sniping the driver out of the seat, to taking the car head on with explosives or packs of bullets. Did I mention there are also some conveniently placed helicopters for you to fly around and gatling gun the mess out of the ground below you? You won’t be suffering from boredom anytime soon in Hotwire mode.
Other game modes include Rescue, a 5v5 team based strategy gametype that pits 5 criminals against 5 officers in the attempt to guard/rescue a hostage from the opposing team. These gametypes can last seconds, or be drawn out to the wire depending on the team you play with. These game types emphasize teamwork and strategy in order to get the job done. Oh also, you cannot respawn. This puts the pressure to the maximum to stay alive and work together to the very end. The fun thing about this game mode is the fact that there can be multiple outcomes, from just eliminating the whole team, to actually completing the objective. And fortunately for Battlefield, it provides enough versatility and options to avoid the gamemode being too short by just having the enemies run in and shoot the entire team without even thinking about the objective. It’s the kind of options like these that keep the experience lasting, and enjoyable.
Blood Money was probably my second favorite mode to Hotwire. Blood Money puts two big teams on either side of the map; and in the middle of the map? A big vault of money with your teams name on it. Blood Money has you attempting to steal as many 100 dollar bills as you can carry and rushing them back to your team’s base to raise your money cap. To make things even more interesting though, you can also steal money from the other team’s base to completely change the overall score and keep the game as competitive as it can possibly be.
Overall, Hardline's multiplayer had a lot of options of play for me to choose from. If I was in the mood to shoot with no questions asked, or if I felt like playing it risky and strategic, I had those options, and it was great.
Of course, this isn’t all without its own share of issues. The first couple days of launch featured DDOS attacks, lagging matches, and sometimes perilously unbalanced teams from people dropping out all at once. These are small issues that continue to be actively worked on, but it is enough to really disappoint anyone with a small amount of time that they want to burn on some multiplayer sessions.
Also the fact that the game only boasts 9 multiplayer maps is a bit of a letdown. While they change immensely due to what you’re playing, the environments themselves suffer from a repetitive nature much more quickly when you’re getting bumped into the same maps over and over.
+ Great Campaign
+ Fast paced non-stop action
+ Controls great
+ Multiple options of playstyle
- Lack of multiplayer maps
- Semi-broken freeze system
- Simple enemy AI
Hardlines lived up to the fast paced non-stop action presentation it was going for.
The campaign was a treat, the multiplayer has something for everyone, controls are tight, and aside from a few silly AI and odd freezing mechanics, the gameplay overall was fantastic.
While the campaign may not last long, Multiplayer offers plenty to do for a long time to come. That is, if it can continue to survive DDOS attacks and server load.
out of 10
(not an average)
Battlefield Hardline was a fantastic entry in the franchise. It was fresh, new, stealthy, comedic, and overall a damn good time to play. There's a little something for everyone here.