There are many battlefields in life.
However, in the Battlefield series of video games, these battles always took place in a military setting in some far-flung theater of war.
But with Battlefield Hardline, the focus shifts from military strategy to something a little closer to home – the war between the keepers of the domestic peace and the breakers of the law. It’s cops and robbers this time around.
The game’s single-player mode tells the story of police detectives seeking to eliminate the scourge of drug runners and bank robbers, all the while trying to determine the dirty cops from the good ones. The mode plays out in the style of a cop show, replete with narrated recaps of past missions and previews of the coming battles.
As police detective Nick Mendoza, you are charged with finding criminals and clues, with the aid of a scanner that can locate enemies through body heat, listen in on conversations and detect clues along the way.
How a mission plays out involves a certain degree of flexibility. You have the option to order enemies to freeze, allowing you to disarm and arrest them. However, sometimes a gun battle is inevitable. Since the focus has moved away from military action, stealth and patient gameplay becomes increasingly important in Hardline.
As with previous Battlefield games, the multiplayer action is the heart and soul of the game, with Hardline bringing some new gameplay modes tailored to the cops and robbers theme. The game offers up five new game modes:
Hotwire puts both teams behind the wheels of fast, powerful vehicles for some high-speed battles.
Heist tasks the criminal side with the mission of stealing and then safely transporting cash while the cops attempt to thwart them.
There is also a hostage rescue mode (Rescue); an “eliminate the high value target” mode (Crosshair) and a “gather more money than the other side” mode (Blood Money).
In addition, good old Team Deathmatch returns, as well as two flavors of Conquest, in which both teams seek to control points on the map, depleting the tickets of the other team. Conquest is offered in small or large team matches, with vehicles such as helicopters, air boats and motorcycles to aid in navigating the sometimes expansive terrain.
Battlefield Hardline multiplayer also features a “Hacker” mode, which allows one player on either team to aid in battling the opposition. They can do that in a variety of ways, such as enabling fast deploy of players; inhibiting the opposition GPS or enhancing friendly GPS; and emphasizing points of interest for teammates. There are a total of nine options for the hacker on your team.
Starting with basic weapons and gadgets, you earn cash and rank up as you play. This money can then be used to purchase better weapons and gadgets and to incorporate improved add-ons to your weapon to further hone your skills.
Joining a multiplayer match is quick and easy. As with recent Battlefield games, you join a squad and can spawn with your squadmates.
There are four playable factions, two police (SWAT, Street Cops) and two bad guys (Thieves, Criminals). Players can choose from four classes: Operator, Mechanic, Enforcer and Professional. Each corresponds to what were previously military classes:
The Operator is the medic of the group. He can offer up health packs and revive fallen teammates, although new to the series is the ability of players to grab health for themselves, rather than wait for it to be offered by Operators.
Mechanics are engineers. They can repair friendly vehicles and destroy enemy vehicles.
The Enforcer is support, providing cover fire and resupplying teammates with ammunition. Again, new to the series is the ability for players to just take ammo when needed.
The Professional is the sniper class, relaying surveillance intel and sniper cover fire.
Battlefield Hardline, despite the turn away from the military focus, retains the Battlefield feel. Whether you’re fighting foreign insurgents or neighborhood gang bangers, the goals are essentially the same.
And like other recent Battlefield games, Hardline can be a blast or it can make you want to tear your hair out. The action is fast-paced and non-stop but can be really frustrating as you find yourself dying over and over – killed by players that always seem to have better weapons and quicker reflexes.
But it’s a tribute to the franchise that despite the frustration, Battlefield Hardline pulls you back in for just one more match. And then another. And another until you finally see your skills improve and you’re hooked.
Platform: Xbox One
Manufacturer: Electronic Arts
Score: 9.0 “cops ‘n robbers” chilies
Review Statement: An Xbox One retail copy of this game was provided by Electronic Arts for the purpose of this review.