First Play: Battlefield Hardline

This time, the war's on the streets. We go hands-on to take a closer look

Introduced during Sony’s E3 2014 PlayStation Press Conference, Battlefield: Hardline is not your usual BF title.

Besides being produced by Visceral Games for a change - the studio that brought us another successful franchise, Dead Space 3 - Hardline literally eschews traditional battlefields for another kind of war. This time, it’s crime.

COPS AND ROBBERS

We can understand why Visceral decided to go in this direction. Between Battlefield and Call of Duty, ideas for military scenarios must be thin on the (battle)ground by now. At least taking it to the streets feels somewhat refreshing, and makes a bit of sense given how heavily armed criminals are becoming in the US, where Hardline is based.

We got the chance to play the game during E3 2014, though it was a short session of around 10 minutes. Publisher Electronic Arts really took the time to sell the premise though. Everyone had to “register” at a police desk and have our mug shots taken, before being led into an office to await instructions. An alarm then went off and we had to take up battle stations instead. In that short span of time we went from cop to robber to SWAT team member, which is somewhat like the roles we can play in the game.

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More after the break...

Paper Chase

My time with the game was spent on a multiplayer session, where I played a policeman in a very fun game mode dubbed Blood Money. This challenge requires teams to grab bags of cash from the middle of the map and bring it back to their respective bases. Yes, it’s essentially capture-the-flag, but in the context of a bank robbery - the criminals want to escape with the money, and the cops need to get it back.

However, there’s a twist - you can steal money back from your opponent’s base, meaning games can actually go on for quite some time. Of course, I only learnt about this after the game ended. Many of us were too busy exploring the sandbox game area of downtown LA to actually try and win (we lost, unsurprisingly). It’s not very large geographically, but there are tons of nooks and crannies you can hide in, such as carparks and back alleys. The depth of the environment was really very engaging.

I elected to zip around the city on a motorbike, which was really quite enjoyable until I got run over and crushed by an armoured vehicle. This prompted me to actually try the combat instead, where you spawn, buy equipment, and run off to try and shoot the other fellow in the face. You can also customise your weapon with accessories to suit your playing style, much like previous Battlefields. I don’t know why, but I actually felt it was slightly reminiscent of CounterStrike in style. Perhaps it was the non-military setting and uniform.

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THE BOTTOM LINE

Hardline might not be what hardcore Battlefield fans are looking for, but it definitely is a breath of fresh air in terms of premise, and heaps of fun. We didn't see much of the single player campaign other than a few trailer shots, but we'd expect it to be at least a few hours of compelling storyline. However, as with all Battlefield games, multiplayer is where the real action is at, and Hardline seems to deliver in that aspect. It's still early days though, so we'll wait for more game time with more than just one mode before proclaiming that you should buy it over Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.  

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