While “Call of Duty” seems to have become complacent over the years, almost afraid of innovation, the Battlefield franchise has taken pride in its ability to push boundaries for first person shooters.
This strive for greatness has resulted in both positive and negative qualities. Players have been graced with a large scale 32-person multiplayer shooter with fully destructible environments and levelations while also suffering from extreme multiplayer issues in both matchmaking and gameplay.
The newest iteration of the Battlefield franchise, “Battlefield Hardline,” is a spinoff of the core Battlefield franchise. The game, which focuses on the conflict between cops and criminals instead of a warzone, is a great improvement from “Battlefield 4” but ultimately still flawed.
The lowest point of the game, which is a common low point for the genre, rests in the game’s single player campaign. The studio behind the “Dead Space” trilogy, Visceral, took over the single player campaign creating a TV episodic character-driven narrative. Although Visceral is a proven talent, “Hardline”’s campaign is nothing more than repetitive gameplay and stereotypical FPS set pieces.
The arrest gameplay mechanic notably stands as the most frustrating mechanic as it is repetitive, frustrating and unnatural. This repeated mechanic coupled with some broken stealth based gameplay creates a gimmicky and unnatural gameplay experience that is disjointed and un-immersive for the gamer. The narrative itself is forgettable due to uninteresting characters, though the episodic approach to gameplay feels fresh compared to other more cinematic like campaign structures.
Moving beyond the campaign we come to the multiplayer, which is the real selling point for the “Battlefield” games. While the multiplayer is fun, and definitely fresh in comparison to the competition, the game is still crippled with issues.
The best parts of “Hardline” are its maps and game engine. Hardline delivers a diverse assortment of multiplayer maps that provide fresh experiences. Maps vary from large towns and downtown cities to tight and close quartered slum and bank brawls. On the smaller maps (Bank Job or The Block) “Hardline” can get a bit too claustrophobic in its 32-man firefights, but it’s these smaller and more intimate locations which allows for the gameplay to shine.
“Hardline” is labeled a half measure in the “Battlefield” franchise, because as a spinoff it takes steps to differentiate itself but doesn’t commit to this change. The game does cut back on certain weapons and vehicles stereotypically found in a “Battlefield” game, but doesn’t completely eliminate them. This results in a militarized police force/robbers, but makes gameplay feel very similar to past “Battlefield” iterations. While completely eliminating the militarized aspects of the weapons arsenal would have been a dramatic change, it would have made the game feel unique and fit with its core ideas. Instead the game takes the appearance of a cop vs. robbers game but feels very similar to the military shooters we have seen before.
“Battlefield Hardline” is a worthwhile experience due to its level design, game engine and unique game modes. Instead of the common deathmatch, capture the flag and conquest, we are robbing bank vaults, escorting hostages and hijacking cars. These creative game modes change the core gameplay and create an experience worth playing. Instead of focusing purely on combat, players are escorting/protecting hostages, collecting and then depositing money or speeding in vehicles across the map just attempting to stay alive.
“Battlefield Hardline” isn’t without faults unfortunately, and although it is a fresh change of pace from the common military multiplayer shooter it doesn’t do enough to differentiate itself. While it takes small steps toward a cop/robber focus core gameplay feels all too similar to standard military shooters.While “Hardline” isn’t a great game, it is definitely a fun twist on the “Battlefield” formula.