BY KYLE VAN DEN HEUVEL
“Battlefield Hardline” takes the phrase “Militarizing the Police” way too literally
The “Battlefield” series of first-person shooters is one of Electronic Arts’ current big franchises and stands toe-to-toe with the “Call of Duty” series of video games in terms of popularity. Both franchises have had complaints of becoming too stale due to covering similar subject material that is also covered by many other competitors. Both “Call of Duty” and “Battlefield” have tried to deviate from the norm with “Call of Duty” going into the future and “Battlefield” looking at cops vs. robbers in “Battlefield Hardline.”
Transitioning from the military to the police has led to some changes in the normal “Battlefield” formula, like the removal of rocket launchers and light machine guns from the player’s arsenal and their replacement with more “civilian” style gadgets like tasers, gas masks and Molotov cocktails. Another nice touch is that the weapons available use their civilian instead of military versions, like the Remington 700 replacing the M40A1 or the SOCOM16 replacing the Mk14 EBR. There are some oddities like criminals using the overly exotic L85A2 of the British Army or police forces using the incredibly dated M/45.
The single player component of the game is also shown in an episodic format that makes the campaign feel like an interactive version of the show “CSI.” Game modes in the multi-player component also properly reflect the cops vs. crooks theme, with most game modes involving taking money from a vault or stealing cars. This does give a bit of variety to the game compared to the not-as-diverse modes in previous “Battlefield” games.
A problem arises in that while the game has the appearance of a cops and robbers game, it still plays like a military game. While players no longer have access to things like rocket launchers, somehow police SUVs are naturally equipped with miniguns and heavy machine guns, weapons not even military vehicles outside of tanks have. The game also gives little incentive for you to take down opponents non-lethally or follow anything resembling due process. For comparison, the 2004 game “SWAT 4” was more tactical and authentic to actual policing and it penalized the player for straying from police protocol. “Battlefield Hardline” lets you spray people down without a care. This might be because they did not want to slow down the gameplay at all, but, given recent events, I’m surprised they did not do something about that.
The main problem this game has is that even with all the changes made to make it a police game, it still feels like every other “Battlefield” game. This game’s original content is not great and its great content is not original. The single player, while novel, is overshadowed by its multiplayer and can be skipped if you just want to play multiplayer. The game’s multiplayer mode has so far not experienced the launch issues “Battlefield 4” gained notoriety for, but on PC there are barely any servers on which to actually experience launch issues. If you were not particularly impressed with “Battlefield” games before and were hoping this would be a fresh start, you might want to skip this one. However, if you are a fan of other “Battlefield” games, you might want to pick it up if the price goes down.
“Battlefield Hardline” is available for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PC for $59.99.