Battlefield Hardline, a cops vs. robbers spin on the military shoot 'em ups, actually shakes up the series' tried-and-true formula so much that it barely even feels like Battlefield anymore.
At least in singleplayer.
A bit of bookkeeping up front: We were invited to attend a Battlefield Hardline review event at EA's offices in Redwood City last week, but as a rule we don't attend gaming review events. As such, we waited until we got a review code that I could play in the comfort of my own apartment.
And we did get that code! Unfortunately, the PC multiplayer servers were deserted the entire weekend, so I have played 0.0 hours of review-ready Battlefield Hardline multiplayer (though you can read my beta impressions here). It's not really a huge deal because after the complete mess that was Battlefield 4 at launch, we wouldn't have felt comfortable slapping a score on this thing anyway until we saw how the servers held up.
I did play Hardline's singleplayer campaign though, and I enjoyed it. Here are my thoughts, if you're interested in the solo side of the game.
My biggest problem with the Hardline multiplayer beta was that it felt like scaled-back Battlefield. You can cover the military's olive drab with as much blue and black paint as you want, but at the end of the day Hardline's multiplayer still felt like I was storming compounds in Fallujah or at the very best reenacting the chaos of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3's US-invasion storyline. Just, you know, without tanks.
Hardline's singleplayer campaign is an entirely different beast. You play the part of Nick Mendoza, a rookie cop who lands in Miami's Vice department. Yes, like the TV show. And that's important, because Hardline is itself taking cues from TV. The entire campaign is set up like an episodic TV show, right down to a Netflix-style "Next Episode" overlay in between missions.
It's a clever conceit to an ever-so-slightly-clever game — probably the best (or at least most dedicated) use of the episodic format I've seen since Alan Wake's American Nightmare.
Mendoza quickly discovers that not everything in his department is entirely on-the-level. A name keeps cropping up: Stoddard a.k.a. Sergeant Stoddard a.k.a. your former/temporary partner upon arriving in Vice. Stoddard is a brash hothead who's quick to go for his gun, but is he dirty? And is anyone else dirty?
Look, it's not the greatest, most original police story ever told this side of The Thin Blue Line. It's not going to win awards for its amazing, prescient look at the state of the country's police force or anything along those lines. This isn't The Wire. This isn't Breaking Bad.
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