Daily Egyptian

‘Hardline’ is more good cop than bad cop

By Austin Miller, @AMiller_DE

“Woop woop, that’s the sound of da police! Woop woop, that’s the sound of the beast!”

KRS-One’s anti-police song begins playing when gamers start up “Battlefield Hardline” for the first time.

In an interesting change, the “Battlefield” franchise has traded its camouflage for a police badge. The open deserts of Afghanistan have given way to the poor neighborhoods of drug-riddled Miami.

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Players take control of Nick Mendoza, a Cuban immigrant who has just been promoted to detective. Mendoza soon learns there are no good cops in his precinct, as all are accepting big bucks to let drug lords continue their businesses.

The story itself is as cliché as it gets and has as much cheese as a Kraft factory. Bad cops taking bribes and unnecessary explosions have all been done to death in games, but “Hardline” is still an enjoyable ride.

While organized as a TV show—having levels dubbed episodes and a “previously on Hardline” cinematic preview before each level—“Hardline” comes off as a good Michael Bay movie.

“Battlefield” has had traditionally bad, boring campaigns, so I would regard “Hardline” as the best.

Speaking of Michael Bay’s filmography, “Hardline” is reminiscent of “The Rock,” with both being TNT-laced diamonds in miles of rough.

Even though “Battlefield” has always been based on large environments and lots of players, “Hardline” lowers the scale, for the most part.

The second half of the game jumps the shark quite a bit. Mendoza can still arrest criminals, even though he should not be, which the opening of the game explains. Large set pieces veer away from the small scale the game started with.

One scene near the end has players blow up a water tank used to stabilize skyscrapers during hurricanes to flood an elevator shaft and swim to the top.

By the end, the game evolves into a James Bond action movie rather than the “CSI”-esque crime drama it begins as.

A cop cannot open fire in large crowds with a rocket launcher, so Mendoza is equipped with a pistol and stun gun instead. Cops also cannot just kill people as they see fit, so players have the option of flashing the badge and arresting criminals. These stealth-prioritizing, non-lethal takedowns put a muzzle on a series known for being loud.

Long-time fans may not enjoy the changes, but as someone who loves stealth games like “Far Cry” and “Metal Gear,” I really dig them.

Even with a solid campaign, multiplayer has always been the calling card for “Battlefield.”

Conquest, the 64 player mode, has always delivered one-of-a-kind experiences. Players have loved the vehicle-based combat, with tanks and jets as focal points of every match. But most police stations don’t have those, so Conquest does not make much sense for this game.

Instead of Conquest, a new mode takes center stage.

Hotwire takes the large battles and capturing and holding points of Conquest, and adds a twist. Instead of stationary locations being captured, players must seize vehicles and stay above a minimum speed limit to score points.

Each match of Hotwire feels like “Smokey and the Bandit” on steroids.

Heist is another new mode that, as you might guess, involves robbing banks. It is a fresh take on the capture modes prevalent in first-person-shooters, but games like “Payday” and “Grand Theft Auto 5” do heists much better.

But in the ongoing battle of “Battlefield” vs. “Call of Duty,” “Hardline” is better than 2014’s “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.”

I thought I would hate this game when it was announced last summer.

The first trailer showed the worst cops of all time having an all-out assault on a group of bank robbers in a big city. It was a small war over some green paper. But after giving the new modes some time, and playing the campaign, “Hardline” is more than meets the eye, as Optimus Prime would say.

The campaign is so different from previous games, that I feel like developer Visceral Games, known for the “Dead Space” franchise, was working on a cop game, and publisher Electronic Arts thought it would be a good idea to attach the Battlefield moniker.

If the game was just called “Hardline,” it might not have sold as well. But it would have been a truer statement to fans, because this is not, and should not have been, a “Battlefield” game.

With that said, it is the best game named “Battlefield” in some time.

3.5 stars out of 5

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