It's an interesting mechanic that basically lets you play the game however you'd like, but clearly favors players who put in the effort to be a "Good Officer" and make arrests — similar to Deus Ex or Dishonored. I think I only got in two non-essential shootouts in the entire game, because I found the stealth side of things so much more satisfying.
The whole "Do what you want" idea culminates in the last level, which is (I kid you not) Far Cry. Or like very small Far Cry. You're on an island, there are enemy outposts, and you can either skirt around them entirely or go in stealthy and arrest the whole crew (with your apparently infinite supply of handcuffs) or just run in guns blazing and blow everything to bits.
Another fun aspect is the evidence collection mechanic, used to solve Case Files. Each mission in Hardline has documents or other items scattered around that pertain to different backstory elements. It's not hard — your scanner will lead you right to each piece of evidence, if you just pay attention to it. It's definitely not as involved as even LA Noire's simplistic evidence-gathering. But it's a great, actually-interesting implementation of collectibles. I ended up snagging all of them.
Plus, this enemy is playing Dead Space:
You know what? It's not at all what I was expecting from a game with Battlefield in the title, especially since the multiplayer side of things is so focused on shooting.
Hardline's campaign is a great stealth-lite game packaged with the big-budget presentation of a prime-time TV show — including some incredible musical moments that rival anything Rockstar's done with Grand Theft Auto/Red Dead Redemption. It's a weird mix that for some reason worked perfectly on me, though I admit it's probably not for everyone. if you go into this wanting a Battlefield game? I guarantee you're probably going to come away disappointed. A shooter, this is not, and if you try to play it as a shooter you're going to find a pretty short, boring campaign.
I'd urge you to give it a try though, and engage with it on its terms — especially if you're buying Hardline for the multiplayer component anyway. And that's not something I say about many shooter campaigns.
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