Review

Battlefield Hardline continues a long line of Battlefield games by Electronic Arts. Previous Battlefield games were war centric, either creating new world conflict scenarios or centering on previous wars. Battlefield Hardline begins a new era of Battlefield games by focusing on the Miami police force in their battle against corruption and drugs. In the single player campaign, you play as Nick Mendoza, a Miami detective who has Cuban ties. He is initially partnered with Carl Stoddard to take down a drug dealer, then with Khai Minh Dao to take down another drug dealer named Tyson Latchford. Their captain is Julian Dawes, a no nonsense kind of guy who is looking into corruption in the Miami police department. Eventually both Dawes and Khai betray Mendoza by setting him up with drug money and sentencing him to prison. Dawes eventually betrays Khai as well, so Khai and Tyson (who apparently were an item at one time) work together to break Mendoza out of prison in order to enact revenge on Dawes and Stoddard.

Graphics

I played the Xbox One version of Battlefield: Hardline, as well as the Xbox 360 version. Graphically, this is one of the best looking shooters I’ve played to date on the Xbox One. There is plenty of detail, the environments are well lit and detailed, and the main characters are extremely realistic looking, though slightly plastic looking. It’s not nearly as bad as Kevin Spacey’s plastic face though. There is no real substantive difference between the Xbox One and PS4 version, except for the PS4 version has slightly more detail. The Xbox 360 version is obviously less detailed than the Xbox One version, but still contains enough detail and graphical quality to make the game enjoyable.

Side by side comparisons (such as above) between the PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PS3 are fairly similar. The 360 and PS3 versions are notably grainier and less detailed, which is obviously to be expected. The 360 version does not have anywhere close to the detail of the Xbox One version. The faces, in particular, lack detail and depth.

Story

Battlefield: Hardline shifts away from the traditional shooter game associated with military campaigns/war to the war on drugs and a cops and robbers story. The single player portion of the game plays out in ten separate episodes. There is an obvious homage to the old cop shows of the 1980s, especially Miami Vice. There is a break between each episode, even though they are obviously related both in terms of the story progression. If you stop playing and save, you get a ‘next time on Hardline’ vignette. The same applies when you reenter the single player campaign, you get a recap just like you would in a television show.

The story, which moves at a good pace, is disjointed at times. It’s fairly easy to follow, simplistic in plot, and not complicated. However, it is inconsistent in terms of character development. You play as a good guy going after a bad guy, working with good guys who become bad guys, who work with the bad guys, who become good guys. It’s all very confusing.

I think I just saw something disturbing

I think I just saw something disturbing

There are a number of additions to the storyline that, while not mandatory, add a lot of depth to the story. One of those elements is cold case files. You go around the various locales, collecting and scanning evidence when your scanner (a.k.a. cell phone) buzzes. They add information to the story, but not a whole lot. Another element added is warrants that you can use to take down bad guys. You have the opportunity to sneak around and, either using a taser or a knock on the head, subdue the bad guys. The warrants add additional experience to your character. It is amusing that you can still subdue and arrest these perpetrators for their warrant, even after your character loses his job as a cop.

The end of the game (which I will not give away) was disappointing to me. After playing through the entire game and switching sides with characters who do not know their affiliation, you find out that you have inherited something which is confusing. It was rather abrupt, somewhat formulaic, and clichéd.

The single player campaign takes around 7 ½ hours to play through, pretty typical for this type of game. For those who are achievement/trophy hunters, you can attain around half of the achievements/trophies in the single player campaign while playing on easy. There are only three multiplayer achievements/trophies. I found that to be unusual.

Gameplay

The gameplay for Hardline is typical of nearly every first person shooter, at least for the shooter mechanics. The shooting mechanics are solid. Sneaking around, which is important in several of the missions, is easy to accomplish, primarily because most of the bad guys appear to be both deaf and blind. Occasionally, they do notice you sneaking around and become aggressive. Equally amusing is that you can flash your badge, even after you lose your job, to take down groups of bad guys, even though they normally outnumber you by a three to one margin. If you look away and take one down, the others might try to attack you, but only if you don’t get the jump on them first. It’s a bit wonky and unrealistic. At least there aren’t any asinine quick time events like some other shooters, aside from a goofy, formulaic, and corny quick time event you have to play through while embracing a Florida crocodile.

There are several scenes in which you need to drive some sort of vehicle. Most of the driving is done in a car, though there is one episode where you need to drive an airboat around the Everglades. The driving mechanics are extremely wonky (though I am admittedly not good at driving games). The controls are not intuitive and don’t match most driving games. You use the left stick to steer instead of the right stick. The car mechanics are like driving a tank with square wheels. The airboat scenes drive like you are sliding on ice while pounding vodka shots. Even stranger, you can drive right over land with the stupid airboat.

The negatives

Though I did not play through the multiplayer, it was initially buggy, though this was primarily to a DDoS attack. Compared to Battlefield 4 (which was buggier than a Virginia summer), Hardline is outstanding in terms of stability and a lack of problems. There are some audio and video bugs throughout the game. The audio ones are mostly syncing issues such as dialogue not properly synced to the character’s mouth and bullet sounds cutting in and out.

Another problem I have with the game are the crime scene parameters. On the minimap, you have a location that you have to stay within, depicted by a light gray area. If you stray outside of that area for more than 10 seconds, you will suffer a mysterious death and have to restart the checkpoint again. Speaking of restarting, this gets really annoying, especially in the car chase scenes. It’s pretty easy to accidentally drive off the scene, into an aqueduct, or any impediment in the way because the driving controls are not very good.

It’s pretty easy to accidentally drive off the scene, into an aqueduct, or any impediment in the way because the driving controls are not very good.