Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Battlefield: Hardline

Rating: 8.8

Happy Price: 49.99


Hardline takes all the elements Battlefield players are used to and compresses them into more colorful and urban environments. The color palette is similar to GTA V but infuses tight FPS mechanics along with a frame rate of 60fps which is a noticeable upgrade. It makes for quick online gameplay and a satisfying single player campaign

Online: EA did a wonderful job marketing the online play with awesome shootouts, explosions, and unique experiences never seen in games before. Even though all these are possible, its rare any of it happens online. I've put 20 hours of online play in, and have never been side by side with an enemy vehicle in an epic shootout with 6 players. Typically what happens online is a chase will occur, the opponent will crash, you will zoom past them while shooting, the driver of your vehicle will stop and turn around, and the opponents have gotten out of their vehicle and are hiding in a building. That said, online play is still great and I'm not done playing. Combining the vehicles and destructible environments make for an endless amount of variables and each session feels different.

I prefer the gameplay over Call of Duty, but the progression system is slightly frustrating. There are two build outs for the players profile, cops and criminals, then the class loadouts creating a total of 8 different profile builds. Cash acquired during gameplay goes to one central player account, so you have to decide which side you'd like to build. Criminals and Police have access to different weapons, so buying a shotgun may not apply to your police build. Acquiring cash is not easy and you must perform well to make any substantial money, so it can be annoying when you enter a session as the police but most of your weapons were purchased on the criminal side. You essentially have to do everything twice. This gets deeper when you purchase items that apply to classes of that side. A scope for the assault class of your criminal build will make a dent in your pocket and will only apply to a class you may use 20% of the time. I would much prefer to have one repository of weapons that are class specific, so I can clearly invest in something and not feel so constrained. Thats what real life is for. 

The new online game modes are a fresh twist on the series. Dealing mainly with one team trying to steal loot from a location, and the police trying to prevent it. Sometimes this is one location, the loot is actually in vehicles resulting in chases, or can be in multiple locations. At first they are refreshing and new, but I find myself playing classic conquest more than anything else. It enables you to play battlefield for what it is designed for, vehicular mayhem and everything that comes with it. Flying a helicopter, parachuting out of it onto a vantage point, and setting up for sniping is incredibly fun. As the player you feel that you have found something unique and that is what makes this game great. Maps are generally smaller and more urban than previous games, so you get a better sense of where players are and the flow of action, similar to the Call of Duty series.

Single Player: HIGH PRODUCTION VALUE. Since the protagonist is a police officer, you are encouraged not to shoot all your enemies in sight. You can if you'd like, but the game becomes much harder and EXP is not gained by killing enemies. Instead you must flash your badge and arrest them or tase them. Half points given to tased enemies, but its actually more effective than shooting with a silenced pistol. Flashing the badge in front of three men equipped with body armor, shotguns, bad attitudes, and then arresting all three does not seem like a likely scenario. Especially after you just snuck into a drug compound. These are supposed to be dangerous people. That part seemed off and its a core mechanic of the campaign. It doesn't take away that its fun though, if you are spotted from a distance doing this, you will be shot. 

However the acting, cinematics, and level design is great. You participate in high speed chases, overwhelming shootouts, and environmental hazards that are done very well. The campaign plays like an episodic series so when an episode is complete, its followed by "Next time on Hardline" if you decide to take a break. It shows the highlights of that next episode and get you excited to play. I was surprised how good the single player story was. I would not prefer it over Destiny or Halo, but they did a great job introducing a new character, the supporting players, and progressing the story in a believable way. During the cinematics the expressions of all the characters are perfectly on point and each character's personality is clearly defined by facial expressions alone. The writers and animators at Visceral did a great job and I'm looking forward to their next project. This is one of the first stories in gaming that did not feel like there were cheesy moments.


Highly recommend. This game does not feel like it was pieced together in one year. The story and attention to detail makes it feel like a very high quality production. There are multiple moments like the clip I posted above where the building falls apart in the hurricane and you have to react to avoid death. These things keep you engaged and wanting more. Online play is super fun, but not something I ever got addicted to or woke up wanting to do. It satisfies a need though when I want to shoot something or blow some stuff up. 

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