You get betrayed, and you get betrayed, and you get betrayed! Everyone gets betrayed! Welcome to the campaign of Battlefield Hardline, a game with enough back stabbings and betrayals to rival a giveaway on the Oprah Winfrey show. It’s not all bad though in South Beach Miami, where the majority of the story takes place, as there are some (loose) friendships to be found in, at first, seemingly unlikely places. While the overall story line is fairly enjoyable, and certainly has continuity, things do become kind of predictable toward the end, and the surprises become less and less common.
In Battlefield Hardline, you play as the protagonist Nick Mendoza, a freshly made detective, and the game starts the game off with a bang (or several bangs), putting you right into the actions by working a drug bust with your partner, Carl Stoddard. A quick meeting with your police captain, Julian Dawes, follows the hectic drug bust, as it reveals that the drugs you found had a new identifier on them, revealing a new drug lord is in town and already putting product on the streets. The captain wants you to determine who this new drug supplier is, and immediately teams you up with a new partner, veteran Khai Minh Dao, and what seemingly starts as routine police work quickly becomes an ever increasing series “off the books” investigations, occasional arrests, and lots of shootouts.
Things get interesting fast, and what originally starts out as a simple drug bust, turns into something far more elaborate and complicated than Mendoza could have ever imagined. As you dig deeper into who this new drug lord is, you start finding out it’s not just the bad guys you need to look out for. Betrayal comes from all sides and directions, and by the end of it all, it’s hard to tell who was not screwed over. Covering any more details on the plot at this point would only serve to ruin the game for those that are interested in playing it.
Betrayal comes from all sides and directions, and by the end of it all, it’s hard to tell who was not screwed over.
What stands out most to me about Battlefield Hardline, and what I thoroughly enjoyed, is the options in how I’m able to complete each mission. The game is hardly unique in this aspect, but I love having the option to either stealth my way through without touching a single person, stealth through while quietly taking down everyone along the way, or shooting my way through in a blaze of glory. Variety is the spice of life, and thankfully, Hardline doesn’t disappoint there.
Although I didn’t play the campaign on Battlefield 4, the scars of the BF4 launch for multiplayer still run deep, and it made me very leery of Hardline’s campaign. The good news is that I experienced no issues with any mechanics in Hardline’s campaign. At times I would go for a stealth takedown, and instead of getting the takedown animation, I’d just club them in the back of the head, but I put that down to my own terrible timing before anything else. Everything felt solid from start to finish.
The main characters, as well as the voice acting, were enjoyable, but certainly not stand out quality. Most importantly, nothing with the characters themselves felt too overblown or awkward. Who they were and how they develop through the story was well enough to draw me into the story, and had me trying to guess the outcome of each episode based on what I was learning about everyone. I also appreciated the additional effort put into the “background characters”, as they would actually talk to you, or at least react to your presence, instead of just being a completely useless person to fill in the background. It may seem inconsequential, but that added layer of depth to the game helps up the immersion factor.
Having most recently played the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare campaign, it was refreshing to play a story line that had continuity to it. From beginning to end, the story was fluid, and progressed along smoothly. The AI certainly isn’t mindless, but it also didn’t take much to get past them, so if you’re the type of person that really likes to challenge yourself, I recommend the highest difficulty setting. I played through on the mid level difficulty setting, and though I’m not the greatest of gamers, even I found it to be pretty easy overall. However, what it made up for in continuity, it more than lacked in longevity. At a measly 5 hours and 17 minutes to complete the game, which included about half a dozen screw ups that added at least an additional 30 minutes to my playtime, I felt that there was a lot of wasted opportunity.
Graphics and audio were very impressive (excluding the voice quality, but more on that later) which did not come as a surprise. Given that this is the second game to utilize the Frostbyte 3 engine, for a campaign, it’s well optimized at this point. I played the campaign on PC, with all settings on Ultra, and I was regularly hitting 100 FPS (frames per second) while recording at 30 FPS. Even in the most intense points in the game, I didn’t see any significant drops in frame rate. The game looked phenomenal, and the audio was fantastic. I would have loved a more realistic American Muscle sound to the cars, with that deep, throaty rumble, but we can’t have everything. Explosions and gunshots rang loud, clear, and believable through my Sennheiser HD558 headphones (a “must buy” I might add).
For the impatient players that are chomping at the bit to just get into the game and play it, Hardline doesn’t disappoint. There’s little in the way of cutscenes to set the stage before you’re thrust right into action. It balances out from there, but at least you’re not stuck in a 5 minute long, unskippable opening cinematic before you can play the game. There’s a variety of weapons to be used throughout the game, which can be picked up off of any dead body along the way, and you can unlock attachments for them as you go along as well. To reiterate a few previous points, the storyline is fluid from start to finish, the mechanics felt and looked solid throughout, and the character development was enjoyable.
The standout weakness of Hardline is its inability to capitalize and expand upon a fairly solid story line, that had so much potential to be a much bigger, and far more in depth adventure. Also, having the campaign already split into 10 defined episodes really killed the “what’s next?!” factor of the game. At a point, it went from trying to predict what would happen next, to actually being able to predict what would happen next. The first four episodes seemed to have a lot more depth to them than the remaining six episodes. From episode five and on, it felt as if they had a grander vision for the game, and either ran out of time or money to finish it up, and condensed it down with cheap filler gameplay to wrap it up. It all still made sense along the way, but it had a watered down feeling toward the end. Visceral had a chance to potentially achieve a level of greatness that most AAA campaigns are falling short of recently, and they passed on the opportunity.
The final episode, which most would assume would be the most difficult part of the game as it led to the penultimate “boss fight”, was both enjoyable and disappointing. I have mixed feelings because I was able to completely stealth my way around what very well could have been two large fights. Instead of creating a forced choke point for me to travel through, the map was left more open, allowing me to bypass a large group of enemies, without detection or firing a single bullet. Twice. The final section required only taking out a few baddies, getting creative with a few jumps, and before I knew it, I was at the “boss” finale, and it was all over. It was enjoyable because it’s nice not to have to sit through some forced grand finale. It wasn’t overblown. It was quick, to the point, and highly satisfying. I felt disappointed because after all I went through, the final episode was one of the least challenging of them all, and the very ending was slightly anti-climactic. They certainly left themselves open for a sequel…
Visceral had a chance to potentially achieve a level of greatness that most AAA campaigns are falling short of recently, and they passed on the opportunity.
Battlefield Hardline should be taken for what it is: a multiplayer game. The campaign is good at best, but you don’t buy a title like this for the campaign. It’s a nice option to have for those that enjoy the game, but want to experience a story, and a change of pace from the multiplayer. Given Visceral’s background, there was hope that this Battlefield campaign would be a lot better, and be something really worth playing. Suffice it to say, it fell well short of that mark, and can easily be lumped in with the rest of the big multiplayer games that also have a campaign mode on them. But maybe you can put this one closer to the top of that pile.
Good not great, buy for multiplayer
A fluid storyline that is fairly engaging
Fell well short of its potential
Main interest in the campaign? Wait for a sale
For details on release dates and other related info, head to Battlefield Hardline’s game page.
** When is it worth the price? — In lieu of review scores, we opt to give our opinion on whether the game is worthy of it’s release day price, or if you should wait for a patch or a sale. **