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“Battlefield Hardline” : Game Review

By Kamel Benyahia

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After the much maligned launch of “Battlefield 4,” Dice and Visceral Studios had to make sure “Battlefield Hardline” launched with a stable online multiplayer component. It certainly hit the mark on that note for the most part, but what about the rest of the game?

“Battlefield Hardline” takes the series away from the war zones on foreign soil and brings it back home to the streets of America with a “cops versus criminals” setting. The timing of this game couldn’t be any more coincidental considering the spotlight on law enforcement and their “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality that has been all too prevalent lately. The game’s campaign follows a police officer who gets sucked into a vice squad police unit that isn’t what it seems. The story is a bit predictable, but the acting keeps it interesting enough between levels. Some veteran actors like Benito Martinez from “The Shield,” Mark Rolston from “Shawshank Redemption” and “The Departed,” and Kelly Hu from “The Arrow” series and “X2” all lend their acting talents giving Hardline cut-scenes gravitas.

The campaign offers two ways to approach the same goal. You can either go in like Chow Yun Fat in a John Woo flick, or sneak around and arrest each criminal – reducing fatalities to only criminals you are forced to kill in the context of the story. This offers an interesting dynamic in choice, but the points favor the stealth play-style by sneaking around and telling criminals to freeze as you cuff them. Flashing a badge and having criminals surrender is laughably easy and gets stale pretty quick. It is still fun though, especially on some of the later levels where you have to manage several guards at once.

The story is split up into episodes, but it felt like it was shoehorned in. Aside from the “on the next episode” blurb that fills the load screen between levels, there is nothing to indicate that this is a TV show. It could have been left out and the game would not have suffered from it. There are ten episodes and each episode is a new level featuring hidden evidence scattered around to encourage exploration. The hidden evidence allows you to solve the cases as protagonist Nicholas Mendoza, played by Nicholas Gonzalez. It is not mandatory, but it will help you if you’re a trophy/ achievement hunter. I enjoyed the maps on each level and they provided a familiar feel as opposed to the Battlefields of past that were in war-torn countries and unfamiliar cities. The story will take you from the swamps of the Everglades to the streets of Los Angeles and mansions of criminal kingpins. Some of these maps are adapted well to the multiplayer as well.BaTTLEFIELD hARDLINE

“Battlefield Hardline” multiplayer is where the meat and potatoes are and they got it right this time. As mentioned before, “Battlefield 4” came out with a litany of problems, especially the online multiplayer component. Hardline has had a pretty stable launch and that has redeemed Dice and Visceral studios in some people’s eyes. For old fans of Battlefield, conquest mode makes its comeback with several new game-modes tailor made for Hardline’s style of combat. Unlike the campaign, the multiplayer is a high speed shooting frenzy. The first of the new game modes is Heist, which shares similarities to Rush mode and Capture the Flag of previous Battlefield games. The cops are tasked with defending two packages located in one or two locations. The criminals must fight through the cops defending the vaults, break in and deliver the two packages to two predetermined rendezvous locations. This creates an intense push-pull dynamic as teams try to work together and stop the opponents.

The most unique and fun multiplayer mode is Hotwire. Imagine Conquest where each team must control certain points on the map. Now imagine each point of control is a vehicle and to earn points the vehicle must be driven at high-speeds. This is the gist of Hotwire mode and it can be insane sometimes, but it can also be really boring if the other team is too dominant or weak. It certainly works better with two equal teams. This game mode is definitely the most nerve-wracking since you’re either trying to get to an objective car or shoot the opposing team out of objective cars. If you’re the lucky driver of an objective car then watch out for snipers, helicopters with a machine gun on each side, enforcers with breach charges on the road setting up ambushes, engineers with grenade launchers, opponents in other cars rolling up on you and shooting everyone in a drive-by. All of that just scratches the surface of ways to die in this hectic game mode, which is by far my favorite.

There is also Blood Money which is like Capture the Flag with a twist. There is a money pile in the middle of the map and each team has to go to the money pile, collect money and return it to their vault. Since both teams are taking money from the same money pile it gets hectic around the center of the map, but more sneaky players may go all the way to the enemies vault and steal directly from the stash the opposing team is trying to build. The first team to 150,000 dollars or 150 points (1000 dollars is ten points) wins. The sneaky players going to the enemy vault are actually reducing their score while increasing their score for a double whammy. This certainly creates an interesting dynamic, favoring teamwork.

The Hostage Rescue operates similar to Heist mode, except there are no re-spawns and the maps are much smaller. The same applies to VIP mode; however this mode is fun if you have a full squad. One person is the VIP criminal who is prepared to snitch, so the cops must deliver them to a rendezvous point. The VIP is equipped with a Bald Eagle (Desert Eagle) while the bodyguards run standard kits. The criminals must only kill the VIP to win the match. This is also a nerve-wracking game mode that is really fun.

Overall this game is much better than “Battlefield 4.” I really enjoyed the familiar feeling maps and condensed action. It feels more focused and more fun at the same time. Each multiplayer mode offers a unique experience and the campaign is solid. This game is graphically on par with ”Battlefield 4,” but the sound is amazing thanks to Visceral’s unique sound studio. I would strongly recommend this game to veterans of Battlefield and newcomers alike.

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