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Battlefield: Hardline

By NAG3LT16-04-2015

The Defence

Visceral Games
Electronic Arts
Release Date:
US 17-03-2015
EU 19-03-2015

The Prosecution

Intel Core i5 3.0 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce GTX 760
AMD Radeon R9 290
8 GB
60 GB

The Case

Battlefield series are multiplayer games, known for their large-scale military action with both vehicle and infantry combat. The latest major instalment, Battlefield Hardline, attempts a dramatic change of the theme from the military to the heavily armed confrontation between police and criminals. It is the time to see how well such departure from the established formula works for the series.

The Trial

As usual for the recent Battlefield games, there is a single player campaign. To enhance game’s theme, it is presented in a style of an American television cop drama. There is an intro showing select moments as well as the names of actors with their characters. There are previews of the following chapters when exiting the game, as well as recaps of previous events when resuming. As the campaign can take around 10 hours to complete, such reminders are a good idea. Fortunately, for people who do not care about it, the campaign is self-contained and does not unlock anything unique in multiplayer.

Kalashnikov vs the badge – badge wins.

Kalashnikov vs the badge – badge wins.

The player character is a police officer from Miami, Nick Mendoza, who never uses a large supply of zip ties on his vest, but favours an invisible hyperspace arsenal of handcuffs. To fit into a police theme, Hardline has an arrest mechanic, where flashing your badge or finger at up to three unsuspecting enemies will force them to drop the AKs and wait till you handcuff them and knock them out. To balance things a little, you have to keep them at gunpoint, otherwise they will draw another gun and attack you. Game encourages a stealthy approach, showing enemy view cones on minimap, allowing completing many sections this way and giving most experience point for arrest, rather than a non-lethal takedown or stealth. These experience points unlock more deadly weapons you may not use much in a stealthy playthrough. The good old gun-blazing path is still available and is forced in some sections anyway.

The missions themselves are decent enough, with a mix of different locations and experiences. There are linear segments forcing you down a single path, while other areas are wide open, allowing you to choose multiple different approaches. The locations are diverse and provide nice eye-candy. Swamps, downtown, ghetto and others all look very distinct. Additional story background can be viewed by scanning evidence across multiple chapters. Most of the action takes place on foot and vehicular segments are almost exclusively restricted to car chases. A very short ride in a tank and control of a plane turret on the ground are the only times you experience heavier military hardware in the whole game. Hardline’s campaign is not exceptional, but good enough to be worth playing through.

On the multiplayer side, Hardline is instantly recognisable as a Battlefield game, while also offering some new mechanics and game modes. Only Conquest and Team Deathmatch modes remain the same as in the previous games. Heist game mode is similar to Rush, with police defending on unlimited respawn tickets, while criminals must complete their task before their tickets run out. In Heist, there are two caches of loot behind different reinforced doors. Criminals have to blow up the doors and take both caches to escape points to win, while police must stop them and return stolen caches after some time. In Blood Money mode both teams have to bring money from the cache in the centre of the map to their bases. The fighting is not restricted to the centre alone, however, as each team can steal money from the enemy base as well, making base defence necessary and raids on the enemy base – desirable.

The only tank you ever drive in this game.

The only tank you ever drive in this game.

Hotwire mode is a dynamic new take on Conquest. The capture points in it are inside vehicles, such as motorbike, police car, small van and large tanker truck. Points can only be captured and held by driving them at high speed, thus forcing drivers to take risks. Passengers also get points for point capture and can help with repairs and fending off enemy attacks. Meanwhile the enemy team will try to destroy your cars, which are no more durable than ordinary ones. Destroying tanker truck leads to a very large explosion.

Finally, there are two single-life modes, familiar to Counter-Strike players. In Rescue mode, criminals hold two hostages and police must either rescue both of them or kill all criminals. Crosshair mode is known as Assassination/VIP Escort in other games. In it, a single player on one team is VIP only armed with a pistol and he has to reach a rescue point on the other end of the map. His team must protect him, while the other team has to kill only the VIP to win the match.

There are nine different maps in Hardline, with different borders, depending on the game mode. All of them are much smaller compared to the maps in previous titles. While small size is usually not a problem for infantry combat, driving out of boundaries in a car is a constant occurrence. Lack of area is partially compensated for by a bigger emphasis on vertical movement. With both grappling hook and zip line becoming standard gadgets, a good team can get into a building from a different directions and quickly get out with loot if necessary.

That's how I lost my driving license.

That's how I lost my driving license.

When it comes to weapon selection, Hardline feels very stingy. Only the pistols are shared between different classes. All other weapon types are restricted to a single class, so if you want shotguns, you to play as an Enforcer. There are also completely separate loadouts for law enforcement and criminals with different weapons available for each side. To use the same weapon with the other side, you have to get 1000 kills with it first. While having less weapons than in BF4 should not make a drastic difference by itself, such restrictions effectively halve the available choices. The unlocking process has been modified as well. There is no longer a fixed order of unlocking weapons and attachments one by one, but they become available for purchase in large batches. The purchases are made using the in-game cash. This system allows you to get attachments you want faster, while also being clearly ready for future microtransactions.

There are some interesting gameplay elements and improvements present. Battlefield games have always been team based, but unfortunately many people play with little attention to their teammates’ needs. In Hardline when you are near medic or support, you can just press interact to receive health or ammo pack without the other player doing anything. The position of Squad Leader is also up for grabs. If SL does not give orders upon request, the title moves to the squad mate requesting them after some time. With more ordinary cars than military vehicles, passengers’ role has changed as well. They can use their weapons from car and move out of the window to cover a wider angle, but making themselves larger targets.

The commander mode is still present in Hardline, but named “Hacker” mode this time around. Such naming should not confuse anyone, right? Squad orders, GPS spotting and jamming remain the basic tools of the hacker. The timing of the abilities no longer depends on teammates actions, but becomes faster with more experience over time. Maps contain surveillance cameras, electric boxes and gas canisters, which can be hacked. After hack, cameras will automatically spot enemies, while other hackable objects will damage enemies, which get too close. For some weird reason, Hardline’s controls in this mode feel more tablet than PC-oriented, making them uncomfortable, but there is no tablet app.

We have to take several Ferraris as ‘evidence’ as well.

We have to take several Ferraris as ‘evidence’ as well.

On a technical side, Hardline does not try to be a revolution. Graphically it looks very similar to its predecessor, even reusing some of the same assets. It also benefits from all the post-release fixes BF4 has received, thus launching in a very good state, with only few minor bugs present. In the multiplayer everything works well, including “large” scale destruction and weather changes in specific maps. Single player suffers from a very weird technical decision – cutscenes are usually capped at 30 FPS. While noticeable, it is not a big issue in the long story cutscenes, where interaction is limited to turning head around. However, such FPS jumps become jarring when used for few second long scripted interactions in the middle of gameplay.

The Verdict

Battlefield Hardline is an odd Battlefield game, attempting to move action away from military to police vs criminals action. The result is a quite decent alternative take on the series and even manages to bring some new improvements to the basic formula. The main problem is the game’s size – it falls short of major games in the series, but asks for the same full price and doubling it once again with all the upcoming DLCs. If you want to experience modern Battlefield multiplayer, BF4 remains a better choice. In terms of multiplayer population, even BF3 has more players on PC than Hardline. The game is not bad, but it does not justify its price.

Case Review

  • Vertical Combat: Grappling hook and zip line improves infantry mobility.
  • Serve Yourself: New mechanics compensate for the unresponsive teammates.
  • Single Player: A decent implementation and no longer forced to get any MP items.
  • Play it Safe: No graphical leaps, but a stable launch.
  • Small Maps: There are still cars and helicopters crossing them in seconds.
  • Expensive: Less content than in previous games for the same price.
Score: 3.5/5
Decent game, but not on the level of previous Battlefield releases.


Existing in a strange place between the small-scale action of Call of Duty and large combat fields of other Battlefield entries, Hardline gets enough right to call itself a Battlefield title, but not much else. Development this time has been handed to Visceral Games, well known for their work on the Dead Space series, as they try out a new setting: cops and criminals.

The campaign is where, compared to earlier entries, a considerable amount of time has been invested, introducing players to fairly involved gun customization, and also detailing an extremely predictable and unsurprising story of good cops bad cops in Miami, Los Angeles, and beyond. No events in the campaign were thought-provoking nor unexpected, and while Battlefield is known for its lackluster stories, with the amount of focus EA's ad campaign placed on it. Regardless, the facial animations are gorgeous, and, surprisingly, the game rewards smart, stealthy play, though the singular takedown animation does get overplayed.

It's a shame that this smart play doesn't translate into the multiplayer at all. As someone who's played nearly 500 hours of BF4 online, I can safely say that I know BF4's workings fairly well. Comparatively, Hardline's new modes can last for only a few minutes (as in Heist or Blood Money) in some cases, Conquest mode is a joke, and gun battles seem to move much more quickly, resulting in near-instantaneous kills and deaths. Though I can appreciate the new progression and money systems in place, a proper Battlefield title this is not, and it feels as though it were an attempt to tread water for the series.

Score: 3/5


Hardline is a competent game by competent developers, finally proving that the Frostbite engine is capable of actually functioning as intended. Visceral have evidently put a lot of love into the single player portion of the game and it shows in the quality of the textures, environments, acting and so forth but the story is sadly fairly predictable and unskippable cutscenes and walking/passenger sequences make replaying the game a bit of a chore. Replay value is present in collectible weapons, evidence and alternative approaches to missions. Completed case files also provide you with extra battlepacks for multiplayer in addition to extra guns, attachments and camouflage sets in single player.

Sadly multiplayer is where the game gets a little spotty. The majority of the modes are fun but moderate map sizes can be irksome and the amount of weapons present doesn't encourage experimentation, instead nudging you towards the 'best' weapon in a bunch. At least the starting weapons are viable and the gameplay remains hectic but focused across all the modes. Your mileage may vary however; playing by yourself you might decide you've seen it all after a handful of hours but as always, a decent clan or group of friends to play with will boost your enjoyment of virtual cops and robbers.

Hardline's well paced, pretty and most of all it works. It still requires Origin and Battlelog on PC but in-game the action is smooth and stable even with an imperfect ping. Demanding hardware requirements are somewhat smoothed out by the excellent optimisation with graphical performance not only outdoing previous Frostbite engine games but also remaining more consistent even in the most hectic car chases or chopper battles. Besides, there's something to be said for chasing a car crammed to the hilt with criminals, speeding through city streets while you throw a hefty transport chopper around sideways so your gunners can lay into the near helpless vehicle.

Score: 4.5/5
Comments (4)
You must be to post a comment.
Posts: 39

I think a lot of fairly active members of the BF4 community (myself included) wouldn't have minded Hardline being a 20, or possibly even 30 dollar expansion pack. As it stands now though, there's just not enough done differently to warrant buying Hardline over BF4, if you don't own either.

Posts: 3290

Yeah, I thought, right from the beginning, they were stretching it with the Battlefield name for a police game

Posts: 223

Strip away the Battlefield name, Conquest modes and switch it to third person and you have yourself a fucking awesome new franchise.

A Battlefield game this is not. I'm having fun playing online, but EA calling this a "Battlefield" title is just a cheap way of making a lot of money - fast.

Like I said, this could have been the start to a pretty good third person franchise, they could have simply called it "Hardline". Visceral clearly know how to make a great TPS (Dead Space anyone?!) so EA should have let them do something special with Hardline

Posts: 3290

It's times like this I...kinda' miss XiDiO