Truth be told, it was a mixed bag of feelings when I inserted the Battlefield Hardline disc into my trusty Playstation 4 and watch the game boot up. The previous beta was rather patchy and in programming terms, felt more like a 1st alpha than a beta. Yet the game had lots of promise and this is where I find out if developers Visceral Games has gotten their act together.
Jumping into single-player mode, I had little to no expectations seeing how the other Battlefield single-player modes are. Linear, expectable and sometimes cliche are terms I have discussed with my fellow tech writers about Battlefield single player modes. Which is fine in a way, as most of us play the game for the multiplayer mode rather than single-player.
Yet what awaited me was actually a fun 7-9 hours single-player game in Battlefield Hardline. Sure the settings felt like something you watch on Fox Crime and even had a tint of CSI Miami. Even more so for me who has been watching the likes of the various CSI series and just completed my digital forensics course with a trainer who spent quite a bit of time entertaining us with his stories during break time. But ultimately I will admit the single-player is decent and the many characters actually grew onto me that I found it hard to “save and quit” as I wanted to find out what happens next. Just remember to turn the volume down if you have children around as the language can get a little bit “harsh”.
Without spoiling the story for you, the single-player puts you in the role of a freshly promoted cop, full of idealistic ideas, which has to deal with the real crime world. At his disposal are the usual big flashy Battlefield inspired guns that would clear any room with a few clips or you can use your badge and handcuffs. Yes, you can actually complete majority of the levels just by arresting the bad guys which ironically net you the most points to unlock bigger guns. Oh and he has this really cool device that lets you scan the area like a page out of a spy novel, only thing is I do wonder how on earth did the police have the funding to get one of those.
Moving onto the multiplayer, Battlefield Hardline feels like the good old classic counter-strike meets the updated Battlefield engine. Battlefield players will feel right at home here just that they got to get used to seeing more urbanised cityscapes and less military hardware. I am also pleased to say that servers on launch day were lots better compared to Battlefield 4 where I remember crashing the skyscraper would crash the server.
I have to also highlight that some of the unique maps that classic counter-strike players have loved do make an appearance in “same same but different” form. Escort the VIP where one lucky (or unlucky) player turns into the VIP, armed only with a handgun while the rest of the cops have to help him escape from the bad guys. Or my personal favourite rescue the hostage mode. Sadly you can’t really bunny hop here but hey, I am sure Battlefield veterans would have other tricks up their sleeves.
The progression model also seems to work here where you use hard earned cash from matches to buy what you want instead of XP grinding a linear path, getting unwanted stuff in-between till you reach the ones you want. The various items are also not class specific so you don’t have to stereotype yourself into a particular class type to equip what you want. Oh and the ability to save different loadouts is a very welcome thing.
Overall Battlefield Hardline is a welcome surprise into the Battlefield series with a single-player that I can actually tell people to try out and not feel guilty about. One major downside is that even on the Playstation 4 and its superior hardware in the console universe, Battlefield Hardline plays at 900p instead of 1080p. Though not perfect with an overall feel that developers are still trying to play safe, Visceral Games did a good job with parts that they ventured out of the safe Battlefield mould. I do hope they will continue to develop the series and that we will see a Battlefield Hardline 2 (with 1080p 60fps pretty please?).
Ratings: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
By Kenneth Wong
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