Release Date: 3/17/2015
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The first-person shooter genre hasn’t really advanced over the years. I feel this is one genre that is de-evolving over time. No longer do we have the clever and memorable shooters from the mid to late 90s and early 2000s. Every shooter these days is all about killing as much stuff as you can as fast as you can and Hardline is no exception. The game tries to take a more cerebral approach with the addition of stealth. Remember, though half the game you are a cop and the other half a criminal. You play as a man named Nick Mendoza who is a good cop that gets framed while taking down a drug cartel in Miami. Your partner is a female cop, there are few plot twists, a lot of unrealistic stuff happens, there’s some cheesy dialog, blah blah you get the rest. While I was interested in the story enough to keep playing I forgot about the whole thing once I shut the game off.
Hardline’s stealth gameplay actually isn’t half bad, but it feels pointless in some ways. Sure, you’re rewarded for using stealth and arresting criminals, but I feel this could have been done in a different way. As you sneak around levels you can make people freeze, up to three, and take them down. This rewards weapon and attachment unlocks obviously, what else? It’s fun at first, but after the first level I just wanted to shoot stuff up, but I couldn’t because of the unlocks. Each level pretty much plays out exactly the same: Navigate the extremely linear level, get lost a few times, use the annoying scanner to find evidence for more unlocks, and kill more bad guys. Hardline is literally a leapfrog game from stealth to action and it gets a little tiring after a while. Thankfully the game only lasts about 5 hours and then it’s on to multiplayer. On some levels, I was able to take down all the bad guys and that felt satisfying, but in some areas, you had to enter at the right area or take them down in a certain order to not get spotted and this was so irritating. One level had me trying to sneak out of a prison ground while trying to hide from cops, but for some reason, they constantly spotted me no matter where I hid and it was all about reloading the game 500 times to exploit the mechanics — not fun.
One thing I do like a lot about Hardline, and Battlefield in general, is the overall handling and feel of weapons. They have weight, they feel real, and there’s a lot of feedback and skill required to aim the gun, and with this, you will find your favorites. Hardline is more urban cops vs robbers so you won’t see the military weapons you’re used to. Most missions I went through with a pistol as my main weapon and then a shotgun or SMG as a backup, that’s it. No grenades, no rocket launchers, nothing like that. It’s an interesting change-up for the series, but it just wasn’t done right.
Multiplayer is interesting but still doesn’t top Battlefield 3. Most modes consist of variations of capturing the flag with small maps, but the most interesting is hotwiring. This is a car heist mission where you drive around on maps, but the vehicle handling is some of the worst. Even during the campaign, the car chases felt fake and ridiculous, and completely unbelievable. The janky and over-exaggerated handling doesn’t help either. While the multiplayer is a nice change of urban maps over large military fields, it’s not something to write home about. I got bored after getting to around level 15 and just kind of stopped and went on to better games.
The visuals are quite impressive though, some of the best out there right now with fantastic lighting and extremely high-res textures. While the PC version does look the best, the PS4 and Xbox One versions are nothing to scoff at. However, you will need a fairly new system to run this on PC, nothing over 18 months old.
With that said, Hardline is a nice change of pace for the series, but it just wasn’t executed right. The story is decent albeit cheesy and fake, the levels are more linear than you can imagine, and the leapfrog from stealth to action is just a little nauseating and causes poor pacing issues. The car chases are terribly done and are completely fake feelings and unbelievable. The multiplayer, while interesting, feels too similar to other shooters and doesn’t top Battlefield 3’s excellent maps and balancing; the visuals are also stunning, but this won’t help the game much. What we have here is a slightly above average shooter and a below-average Battlefield game. I really felt this is the series’ low point, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want a sequel that’s more fine-tuned.