By now, you know that Battlefield Hardline steps outside the comfort zone of the original series, swapping military warfare for street gangs and cops vs robbers action.
The campaign plays out like a TV show, split into different episodes that catch you up with the action at the beginning of each one. The story focuses on Nick Mendoza, a Miami cop who has been framed for corruption. The episodes reveal what led to that point, uncovering some difficult truths along the way.
It verges on cheesy at times, and there are a few plot holes, but what TV show doesn’t suffer from that from time to time?
Instead of going in all guns blazing, Hardline rewards you for stealth. Take down gang members without raising the alert and you gain points. In this game, points mean prizes, in the form of new weapons. Distracting targets before taking down their partners requires some skillful aiming, but it's ultimately rewarding. Yes, you can up the body count if you wish, but your progression is much more satisfying if you at least try to stay out of sight.
You’re also equipped with a scanner, a useful tool for discovering the criminals around you and if they have outstanding arrest warrants, and for helping you to locate evidence. When you are near something of interest to the case, there’s a vibration; whip out the scanner and it will locate the important object, scan it and throw some information into the case file for you to review.
It’s not all action and evidence-hunting though. There are long sequences of driving places and listening to conversations play out between your character and others, when all you can do is look around and wait till you get to the end. That gets old quickly.
Despite its flaws, the campaign is enjoyable, and breaking it down into episodes makes it a bit less of a time suck than it could otherwise be.
The multiplayer is a bit less structured, and resembles all-out warfare at times. There are several different options: ‘Hotwire’ pits police against thieves, with each team trying to gain possession of cars and wrack up their points before the game ends. ‘Heist’ brings the battle to a bank, where a gang is trying to get access to a vault and the police are trying to prevent their getaway. ‘Blood Money’ moves the action to stealing from armoured vans, and ‘Rescue’ pits teams of five police against criminals holding hostages. There’s enough to keep you busy for a while, even if you do get mown down repeatedly by out-of-control cars. It’s chaotic at times, but fun.
Overall, Battlefield Hardline does well with graphics. Cut scenes look polished and facial models, while not perfect, are pretty good. There are some odd moments in the campaign. In a drugs bust gone wrong, while you're marvelling at the detail where a shotgun blast took out a wall beside your head, there's a pile of intertwined bodies that have somehow melted into each other.
Hardline is an interesting diversion away from the traditional Battlefield fare.