As children we all grew up playing games of Cops and Robbers in our parents gardens. We’d run about shooting from our L-shaped thumbs and index fingers, representing a gun. There’s just something exciting about being a cop. Battlefield Hardline adopts this concept and lets you live out your childhood dreams. But is it a tough battle for the franchise to cross the line?
Battlefield Hardline starts off in typical movie fashion whereby the lead character, Nick Mendoza, is in a bus surrounded by various hardcore criminals and on his way to prison. It’s obvious that he’s a good guy and that something had turned sour leading up to that point. Events move back three years where Nick is an up-and-coming detective on the streets of Miami, along with his partner, Khai Minh Dao. You’re dumped right into your first drug bust that goes south, followed by you driving down and busting a culprit who’s one of the few survivors in the incident. It’s in this short prologue that you realise that this is a very different Battlefield.
Forget the ‘all guns blazing’ recipe that worked for previous Battlefield games. In Hardline you’ll have to use stealth. That’s right, you play nice before zapping a bullet into the criminals pip. Whenever you approach a foe you’ll see a blue marker above his head (there are no criminal ladies apparently). Once that marker appears it’s your ‘awesome styling cop’ moment where you get to flash your badge and shout, “Hands Up!”. The criminal will drop his weapon, put up his hands and you run up to him and click the right analogue stick to arrest him. You can arrest up to three criminals in one group, but you need to keep your wits about yourself.
When there is more than one criminal to detain you’ll have to aim down the sight of your gun and balance your focus between the three criminals. Keep focussed on just one criminal, while walking towards them, and the other two’s alert bars will fill up and they’ll take action. Should you have more than three guards in one position you can lure a guard by pressing the view button and throwing an empty bullet shell to corner an individual. Action, mostly, is best avoided. Bullets will kill you before you know it. Therefore it’s very important to keep an eye on your mini-map at all times, as it shows you all the guards vision cones. In fact, it reminded me very much of Metal Gear Solid, a first-person Metal Gear Solid version, thought these guards are exceptionally daft. If you’re outside of that cone radius, though they should clearly see you, they won’t and you can slip right by.
You’ll also continuously press the RB shoulder button to bring up your scanner to mark off guards and alarm locations on your radar. These alarms can be disabled, and is worth taking the risk as it stops them from calling in backup should things not quite work out for you. It’s also used to search for case files, which is highlighted in bright green. You have access to a zip line to sneak in from rooftops, a grappling hook to climb up to out-of-reach areas (though I barely used it) and you come equipped with a taser gun, should you run out of bullets or if you don’t want to kill anyone.
At least there are preset moments of action that will see you driving cars at breakneck speeds, commandeering a tank and various other set pieces. When bullets start flying you do at the very least have a good number of weapons at hand. Problem is that to exchange weapons you’ll have to keep your eyes open for tactical gear suitcases or cabinets, which is at least marked off on your map. Also, when you die, whereby you die quite often, you’ll get to choose your loadout before tackling the mission again. You can choose between a primary and secondary weapon (which consists of various Pistols, Revolvers, Shotguns, SMG’s, Snipers, Carbines and Assault Rifles). You also have access to one melee weapon – I advise you select the golf club once you unlock it. There’s a catch when it comes to unlocking new weapons. Every time you arrest a criminal (with a stealthy approach) you build points to level up. Levelling up rewards you with new weapons and upgrades (such as silencers, lazer sights, flashlights and so forth). In other words – here are new weapons, but you best be stealthy and not use it if you want more.
The overall story is very predictable in a typical Hollywood fashion and you’ll get to travel throughout various terrains that you’d otherwise never visit in a Battlefield game. I must say that the graphics does not look quite as spectacular as Battlefield 4 did, but there are some standout moments that generally involve one or two beautiful vistas. The weapons sounds are once again exceptionally accurate, which makes for an enjoyable experience when playing this through a decent audio setup. Sometimes your TV speakers just ain’t good enough.
Should you buy Battlefield Hardline? It depends on what type of player you are. If you’re an action junkie you’ll walk away and trip over your own lip after one or two episodes. If you enjoy a stealthy approach to games you’ll find quite a bit of joy in clearing an area without alerting anyone. My recommendation is that if you enjoyed Metal Gear Solid or Splinter Cell that you should consider it, others should cut a hard line in the other direction.