It would be a mistake to approach Hardline’s campaign in the same way as the amazing multiplayer modes it offers. Hardline’s story features a complicated world where stealth is necessary to survive the hostility of the ridiculous amount of criminals that are yet to be arrested. Staying hidden means you can distract enemies by throwing shell casings and arrest them one by one yelling Freeze!.
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Unfortunately, the world falls apart when you realize fully armed criminals protected with bulletproofs that outnumbers you 3 to 1 react in the very same way instead of simply killing you for being such a naive cop. Instead of that, you will need to stop aiming them so they can reach their weapons and start attacking. This converts the otherwise good TV Action-Drama campaign into a merely act of competence in studying their field-of-vision cones on the mini map and arresting them one by one, or simply being faster in showing your badge.
Excuse sir, but why can’t I simply rush and shoot everyone in the head? Well, you can certainly do this. Even the higher level of difficulty won’t provide a challenge for experienced gamers, but the progression system is based on arresting criminals. We have a very cool and handy scanner that we can use to match the enemies to a database and, if they are in the “wanted” list, you will gain a good amount of notoriety and respect. This, and scanning for evidence and solving cases will reward you with battlepacks and guns to blow everything away. But yeah, don’t do that, or you will stop making progress.
From time to time you will be spotted. Most of the outposts you infiltrate are wired with alarm systems that will call reinforcements, but this doesn’t mean you should restart the level. As stated earlier, enemies won’t provide a hard challenge but they won’t stay frozen either, and this means you can and you will die. Enemies react to the last known locations and maps are wide enough to try multiple flanking spots. The shootouts are fun enough to be a Battlefield experience, and this means the campaign feels sometimes unnecessary, but playing it at least once is a fun experience.
Hardline’s campaign is intended to be appreciated as a TV action drama and is structured in chapters, 10 of them to be more precise (plus a prologue). Chapters are presented with recaps and coming-soon montages like you have seen in Alan Wake’s story 5 years ago. Fortunately, the protagonist, Nick Mendoza, is not as forgettable as Alan. Nick is an incorruptible, straight-and-narrow cop that you will eventually like, and the rest of the crew is also interesting.
But what about the multiplayer?
The online experience is everything you can ask from a Battlefield title, and more. You have 8 modes right now, and while some of them could -and should- be revamped, the others are a blast and will keep you hooked for many, many hours. The modes can be played with up to 4 classes: The operator, the enforcer, the mechanic and the professional. As you can guess, those are the typical roles for the close-combat shotgun guy, the sniper, the jack-of-all-trades assault rifle soldier and the gadget guy. If this is not enough for you, you can also be the hacker, similar to Battlefield 4’s commander mode.
In Heist, the criminals try to steal valuable assets while the cops attempt to stop them. The law offenders must crack into one or more vaults, steal the bags and take them to the escape helicopter to secure the loot. On the other side, law enforcement has sanctioned lethal force and is their job to stop them by killing every single one of the criminals. If you have played Payday and enjoyed the different modes but you felt like something was missing, then the answer is all the vehicles, weapons and action an AAA title like Battlefield can provide.
In Hotwire, vehicles are no longer merely death dealers. Now they function as mobile capture points to the players who manage to get them. In order to get points, you must travel a huge speeds. Not being able to get points by hiding your car, this is the only mode where you will feel maps could be a little larger. Specially when the enemy knows tactical spots to wait for you with some rocket-propelled grenades or missiles.
In Blood Money both the cops and robbers are looting an evidence vault of cash at the center of the map. This mode asks and begs for tactical decisions and good team mates able to divide themselves in multiple roles, like looting the stash, waiting outside with getaway vehicles, snipers to cover members, you name it. This is by far the mode I enjoyed the most. Blood Money is not a race to see who can collect the most – you are given the ability to raid the opposition’s vault as well. Running back to your vault to deposit some money only to find an enemy with a bullet with your name is FUN. You won’t curse your teammates for not providing coverage – you will smile.
Team Deathmatch, Conquest and Conquest Large, are options so common that need no introduction at all. Conquest and Conquest Large are typical Battlefield point control while Team Deathmatch is a no vehicle and close quarters infantry combat where the objective is to simply kill the enemy.
In Rescue and Crosshair, on the other hand, there is some fresh air mixed with e-sports. Both modes offer multiple conditions for victory, and this means a well communicated team with a well planned and specific strategy is key. You can’t respawn either, so the typical Battlefield rush approach is not an option if you want to win. In Rescue mode the police is tasked with retrieving one of two hostages, so the criminals must divide themselves to stop the police, while in Crosshair the VIP must escape while the criminals must hunt the snitch.
Battlefield Hardline TV Action-Drama singleplayer campaign is a great shooter that features a fresh arresting tool and a stealth mode. But as you can expect, it is just an extra to taste before jumping to the soul of the game: multiplayer. And with so many different modes it can please several audiences at once. If you ever happen to get tired of spawning in a chopper, destroy a few cars, jump in right to the action using a parachute and escape in a marked vehicle in Hotwire mode, then you can continue enjoying the online experience doing some Heists or trying to recover the evidence -or taking the money for yourself- in Blood Money.