Game review: Battlefield Hardline

Hardline moves away from a military setting  to a cops and robbers theme. Picture: Contributed
Hardline moves away from a military setting to a cops and robbers theme. Picture: Contributed
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A reinvention of Battlefield that largely works well and breathes new life into the series

Game review: Battlefield Hardline

Platform: Xbox One (reviewed) / Playstation 4 / Xbox 360 / Playstation 3 / PC

Score: 7/10

THE latest Battlefield game comes at a time of change of the franchise. It is developed not by DICE, but Visceral Games - perhaps best known for the Dead Space series - and turns its back on the field of war for a cops versus robbers style setting. What is more, a shift in the mechanics means that stealth is now just as important as spraying bullets every which way. Will the overhaul make up for the botched launch of Battlefield 4?

There are elements that almost make the campaign work. The new premise, which revolves around a Miami detective’s descent in the murky underworld of the Florida drugs trade, provides a reprise from the tired narratives surrounding perpetual war. It is presented in the style of a television series, with the episodic structure making it feel like you are playing an interactive box set. Granted, the stilted dialogue will not give David Simon sleepless nights, but the shake up of the formula is to be welcomed and Visceral provide enough absurd twists and set pieces to make a serviceable if superfluous single player experience.

The gameplay is less gung ho and introduces interesting if short-lived new mechanics

The gameplay itself is less gung ho than Battlefield veterans may be used to. Sneaking into an area quietly and disabling alarms leads to less trouble than going in all guns blazing, while a new arrest mechanic allows you to force perps to drop their weapons. However fun it is at first, this ability to arrest foes rather than shoot them soon loses its appeal, and the submissive nature of the enemies reveals some halfhearted AI at work, an accusation that can also be levelled at your cack handed partner.

The cops and robbers idea comes into its own in multiplayer, thankfully, where a slew of modes exploit the dynamic well. With no room for the occasionally awkward drama of the campaign, this is Battlefield at its best, with compact maps and imaginative new ways to play. One of the highlights is the Hotwire mode, a capture the flag-style diversion but with cars; players must make off in a marked vehicle and drive at high speed, while their opponents try to gun them down, an especially enjoyable variation for relative novices to Battlefield’s twitchy gunplay.

It does not have its faults to seek but this is by and large a successful reboot

Hardline, then, is a largely successful reboot of the Battlefield series. Like its predecessors, it does not have its faults to seek, but the move away from the overwrought military setting is enough to keep things interesting. The decision to bring Visceral into the mix has reaped dividends and while there is work to be done, hopefully Hardline has helped save the franchise from itself.

TIPS AND TRICKS:

Hackers can be a vital part of your squad if exploited correctly. Use them to find high value targets and priority missions.

In Hotwire mode, a mechanic is an invaluable companion, given how they can repair your vehicle even when it is travelling at speed.

Keep an eye out for sabotaged areas of the map. You can disarm these traps using the repair tool.