The Battlefield franchise has always been about grand military operations and mindless shoot-them-all gameplay. But its latest iteration takes a different approach.
Moving from the battlefield to the street, Battlefield Hardline concentrates on the eternal struggle between cops and criminals.
In the single-player campaign, you play policeman Nick Mendoza who is framed by dirty cops in Miami for a crime he did not commit. Now, it is payback time.
Like a TV series, the campaign plays out in 10 episodes, with a storyline that would make Jack Bauer proud.
You will be aided by interesting characters, including your partner, Khai, played by American actress Kelly Hu of Martial Law and Scorpion King fame.
Each character's facial animation and voice acting is top-notch. You really feel in character when playing Nick, as you watch him interact with friend and foe alike.
The storyline is rather linear, but the gameplay is not. You can opt for stealth to knock out your foes and handcuff them. You disable alarms to make sure that they are of no use should you be discovered.
At times, I moved so stealthily to eliminate my enemies, that I managed to go without firing a single shot for nearly an entire mission.
But you can do it the "normal" Battlefield way and charge into a mission, emptying the magazine of your gun in the blink of an eye.
Each weapon handles and sounds different. You can immediately tell the difference in the recoil and firing sounds between a Glock G17 pistol and a Heckler & Koch MP5K submachine gun.
You are not always firing a weapon or knocking down enemies. At times, you get behind the wheel for a high-speed car chase or zoom around the Everglades in an airboat to follow leads and gather evidence.
The single-player campaign will probably take you only 10 hours or less to complete, depending on the degree of difficulty you choose.
There are also minor quirks, such as characters standing in mid-air or auto save points that put you back in the firing line of an enemy where you had died in the first place.
I wish the campaign could have lasted longer. Hopefully, an expansion is in the works.
There is plenty of replay value in the multiplayer realm. Hardline offers you eight different multiplayer modes: Heist, Hotwire, Blood Money, Rescue, Crosshair, Conquest Small, Conquest Large and Team Deathmatch, which you can play as cop or criminal.
Heist, Blood Money and Hotwire are new. Heist mode requires the criminals to break into a cash-filled vault and move the cash to an extraction point. The cops have to stop them.
Blood Money requires both cops and criminals to take control of a huge stack of cash. You can steal money from the opposing team's vault and defend it till the time expires. The first team to deposit $5 million into the vault, or the team with the most money after the time limit expires, wins.
If you are a better driver than a first-person shooter, you can opt for the Hotwire mode. You steal cars and drive them at high speed to deplete your opposing team's reinforcement tickets. The first team with zero tickets loses. Or the team with the most tickets wins after the time limit expires. It might sound easy, but constantly driving at high speed in a confined area with enemies firing at you is no mean feat.
For those who prefer the more traditional multiplayer modes, there are the Conquest and Team Deathmatch modes to play.
Battlefield Hardline may not be the game of the year, but it is entertainingly refreshing for a franchise which is in danger of getting stale.
$79.90 (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One, version tested)
This article was first published on Apr 8, 2015.
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