On October 29th, 2013, EA and DICE released the last installment in their popular Battlefield franchise. While Battlefield 4 benefitted from being a launch title on both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the overall game failed to meet high expectations due largely in part to several technical issues that stifled the online experience for everybody.
Nearly a year and a few months later, we are now presented with possibly one of the best entries in the series to date in Battlefield Hardline. Here are a few more reasons why this is one first-person shooter that is definitely worthy of both your time and money.
With Visceral Games at the helm of this year’s release, Hardline takes the signature Battlefield experience we’ve all grown accustomed to and adds the dynamics of cops and robbers to the equation. This bold new direction wasn’t really quite as noticeable when the multiplayer was first revealed to the masses last year prior to E3 2014. However, the same doesn’t apply to this game’s intriguing single-player campaign, which is arguably already the best campaign in the entire history of the series.
The premise of Battlefield Hardline revolves around newly promoted Detective Nick Mendoza and the ongoing trials and tribulations he faces while walking between the lines of right and wrong. The storyline is presented as a TV stylized 10-episode crime drama with plenty of twists and turns to keep the player on the edge of his or her seat every step of the way.
To further emphasize this format, the developers added the talent of greats like Justified Director Bill Johnson and CSI Actress Kelly Hu into the mix. This painstaking attention to detail and commitment to the craft is exactly why this format works and I’ll be surprised if other developers don’t try to integrate some of these elements into their own games.
One of the biggest differences between this Battlefield and others lies solely in the single-player gameplay experience. As a police officer, you have to navigate through several stages in which either stealth and/or public confrontation methods can be utilized. You start by surveying each area with a mobile scanning device that tracks the number of enemies that are present. If you then decide to use the stealthy approach in encounters, you’ll be able to flash your badge at gunpoint and arrest up to 3 perks at a time onsite.
This is actually the preferred method because it helps you unlock additional weapons and level up your ranking faster. If however you do decide to take the more aggressive approach, you aren’t ever penalized for it. Regardless of which action you take, it’s worth noting that the AI can be aggressive as well and therefore you have to be able to adjust on the fly to whatever they may do.
The same scanning device described above also helps you locate evidence and additional weapons that are scattered throughout various sections of each stage. This clever tool adds the detective element to the game and progresses the storyline forward by helping to close cases that are exposed throughout the entire campaign.
One other bonus to using this device is that you can locate high tier criminals who have active warrants and attempt to arrest them and unlock bonuses. Each episode is replayable and includes at least a few of these criminals and evidence you can always go back to in case you might have missed it on your first playthrough.
Graphically, Battlefield Hardline’s campaign is visually stunning from start to finish. Through the power of the Frostbite 3 engine, players can expect several reimagined settings including Miami, Los Angeles, and the gator filled Florida Everglades. The weather and particle effects also take center stage in certain levels, while destruction, animation, and physics are constantly pushed throughout each episode. When it comes to the actors and actresses, the use of motion capture technology really brings out the vibrancy and personality that they have within. All of these elements combined succeed in making the game as realistic and surprisingly believable as it can be.
For those who are heavily concerned about resolution, it’s worth noting that the game runs 720p 60fps on the Xbox One and 900p 60fps on the PS4. I can honestly say that at no point in this experience was I ever turned off by the appearance of the game and the resolution numbers are just that, numbers. This is a perfect example of why we should only be concerned about gameplay because, above all else, that really is and should be the single best element of this and every other game on the market.
Switching over to the multiplayer side of things, Hardline offers five new game modes, four new factions, nine new maps, and over 50 different and modified weapons to use. Here is a brief overview of each new mode:
Hotwire – Participate in high-speed car chases with adversaries.
Heist– Work in factions to either complete heists or stop them.
Blood Money – Participate in an all out war of cops vs. criminals.
Crosshair – Aid or derail the escape of a group member from the opposing team.
Rescue – Successfully rescue hostages from dangerous situations.
Of all of the modes listed above, Blood Money and Heist are the two that standout the most as making use of the new cops vs robbers aesthetic. Hotwire can be both chaotic and fun at the same times depending on how well you react to each situation. Crossfire and Rescue are nice additions but have also appeared in other multiplayer games before under different titles. Team Deathmatch and Conquest have also been added to the game and Levolution is still an intricate part of the overall experience.
With so much to say of the single-player campaign and less about the multiplayer, therein lies the one noticeable problem I had with this game.
While the multiplayer is probably what the diehard Battlefield fan cares about most, it doesn’t do enough to elevate the series into a higher direction. When you have a story driven campaign as new and different as this one, the multiplayer aspects should also undergo some significant changes as well. I would make the argument that if EA released only the multiplayer portion of this game then it would serve better as an add-on to Battlefield 4 instead of a full priced release. With that said though, the campaign is essentially the saving grace in all of this and solid proof that the previous delay was justified.
Minor gripes aside, Battlefield Hardline is definitely one shooter that I would absolutely recommend checking out. If you’re looking for an action-packed single player mode or just the typical multiplayer experience you’re already familiar with, then you definitely can’t go wrong with this.
This review was based on a physical review copy of Battlefield Hardline for the Xbox One provided by Electronic Arts.