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When you walk through the garden…

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    Battlefield Hardline

    Rating: 4.0 – Great

    When you walk through the garden…

    Visceral Games is known for their Dead Space series, but EA and DICE handed them the reins to the Battlefield franchise to create their own spinoff game in the series. The result is Battlefield Hardline, a game that trades the militaristic nature of the other games for a classic tale of "cops and robbers". Battlefield Hardline has its flaws, but it’s still an immensely satisfying FPS in many ways, and is much better than Battlefield 4.

    Hardline has the best single-player campaign in the series with the exception of Bad Company 2. The campaign is short, but it is still decent fun and has a surprising amount of replayability. It’s a standard modern FPS in many ways, including a few too many "follow me" segments that are boring, but it also lets players tackle situations in a variety of manners, including the classic guns blazing route or going in stealthy.

    Playing the game stealthy results in the most fun. To maintain stealth, players can knock out enemies from behind, take them down with a taser, or even arrest them. Arresting enemies is really cool for the first handful of times, but can get old as you continue to do it constantly. Still, it keeps with the police theme and there’s the option to ignore it completely.

    The story is fairly nonsensical and stupid, which is unfortunate as Visceral has displayed a skill in the past of creating interesting and atmospheric stories. The game’s story feels like a really low rent copycat of The Wire for the most part (complete with a "title sequence" that is a direct ripoff of The Wire’s), with elements yanked from other popular TV shows as well and used throughout. The game tells its story as though it is a TV show, which is a unique way to tell a game story, but the problem is that they seem to be telling a story that we’ve seen on other TV shows before, and done much, much better.

    The characters within this story are actually pretty great, however. They are surprisingly complex and multifaceted characters. No one really seems to be a complete bad guy or a complete good guy, which makes for a few compelling scenes. The voice acting helps brings these characters to life in a superb way, and the soundtrack helps create the vibe Visceral was looking for, too. It’s just a shame that these interesting characters are stuck in such a weak story.

    Earlier I said that the campaign has a surprising amount of replayability, and that is true. The campaign has its own progression system, rewarding players that take the stealthy route and arrest as many enemies as possible. There are collectibles like in any other FPS, plus unique collectibles that allow players to solve cases that run through the missions. Furthermore, there are enemies throughout the missions that have bounties on their heads that, if identified using the scanner, can net even more points for your single-player progression.

    The main selling point of any Battlefield game is the multiplayer. Hardline delivers a competent multiplayer experience that is occasionally brilliant, but ultimately fails to be quite as enjoyable as its competition. The lack of any split-screen or offline mode whatsoever is supremely disappointing as it continues to be the norm not just for Battlefield but for EA games in general. That being said, the online multiplayer experience here can be a lot of fun.

    There are new modes added that build on this cop and robber theme, but for the most part, it is the same Battlefield, except that it actually works properly. It’s ridiculous that so many games have launched with broken online experiences that "it works properly" has to even be said in a review, but it does. I did occasionally run into problems connecting to the servers, but for the most part, the online experience for me in Battlefield Hardline was smooth and fun. That being said, I can’t see myself abandoning my go-to FPS right now, Advanced Warfare, but Hardline has proven to be an interesting distraction for the time being.

    The game is sometimes visually very disappointing, probably due to its status as a cross-gen title, but at other times, it’s gorgeous. The lighting in the Xbox One version along with the smooth frame rate result in a really good looking game. The destructible environments are even more impressive than before, with jaw-dropping results in some cases.

    The voice acting is really well done and I enjoyed the soundtrack as well. The presentation would’ve been damn near perfect if the game just had a compelling story to tell.

    The single player campaign is short, but features a lot of reasons to keep coming back. The multiplayer is exhaustive with the amount of content it brings to the table, and you can easily lose many hours playing this game.

    Battlefield Hardline certainly could’ve been better. The game doesn’t quite reach the levels as some previous titles in the series, but I enjoyed it far more than Battlefield 3 or Battlefield 4. It’s not the best FPS available on Xbox One, but it is a solid contender.

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