I gave myself a challenge for this review: I’m going to try and get the whole thing done without once using the cliché “cops and robbers” when talking about Battlefield: Hardline. It’ll be difficult, no doubt about it, but I’ll do my best to stand apart from the rest of the gaming scrum and…oh wait, I just used it, didn’t I? Crap. Oh well, on with the show.
Let’s begin with something I never thought I’d say: the single-player mode of the latest Battlefield game is good. Really good, actually. The story of Detective Nick Mendoza and his fights against both drug dealers and the concept of responsible police work is basically the best cop show you can imagine with you in the driver’s seat.
While you can arrest people and you’ll earn slightly better rewards for doing so, SWAT 4 this is not; it’s a lot dumber and more explode-y than that, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s great stuff, and I think it might imply an attempt on the devs’ part to compete against the Call of Duty series’ equally impressive single-player offerings.
Still, that’s not what most of you came for, is it? Battlefield isn’t about the single-player mode (even though this one kind of is); it’s about hopping on a server and shooting people. Well, let me assure you that you can totally do that here. I have to assure you because if you remember Battlefield 4, you’ll remember that it mostly didn’t work. Not so here! Since launch day it’s been entirely possible to log on and start killin’ right away.
As for how it plays, I’m not exactly a pro Battlefielder but it feels right enough. It’s got all the military shooter trappings we’ve come to expect from this sort of game: very short time-to-kill, very quick respawn rates, plenty of guns that feel pretty similar to one another and gun attachments to perform barely-noticeable tweaks to those guns. You’ll earn the many available guns via the traditional very slow leveling and unlock system. The basics are all here and executed as well as one might expect, so if you know what you’re going to get coming in there’ll be no complaints.
Naturally, since this is a cop game rather than a soldier game, there’s some new cop-flavored game modes to shake things up. Highlights include Hotwire, which is where you play keep-away with a car against the other team, and the Blood Money, where you rob each other. Yes, even if you’re playing as the cops…for some reason.
As always, the proceedings are absolutely insane, with completely meaningless deaths inflicted on you or by you every few seconds or so. There’s a method to the madness but you’re under no real pressure to discern it – instead, kill everything! Shoot everyone! Drive this car! Blow that up! It’s cathartic if you’re in the right mood for it. If you want a more deliberate title that makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something big and permanent, well, Dragon Age: Inquisition is also on Origin, maybe give that a shot?
Oh, right, the graphics and sound: they’re amazing, of course. Everyone still looks like they’re made of plastic because this is a video game and we haven’t gotten past that for over a decade now, but the environments are insanely gorgeous. The reflections from the interior of a car window alone are jaw-dropping, as silly as that might sound. The voice acting is AAA-quality as well, so no complaints. The console versions look great, but if you’ve got a solid gaming PC this one will make it sing.
So if you want something dumb, loud and pretty, Battlefield: Hardline is your game. You most likely do, by the way, even if you don’t know it yet. No matter how many identikit indie art games you’ve tweeted about this week, there’s a primal sliver of your deepest, darkest insides that will enjoy – and probably need – to experience Battlefield: Hardline.