Battlefield Hardline is the latest installment in the Battlefield franchise, as you most likely know, it is a first person shooter series that has traditionally focused on large military multiplayer battles, with Battlefield 1942, Battlefield 2 and Bad Company 2 being my favourite iterations. EA has handed this “spinoff” project to Visceral games, the developer behind the Deadspace games, where the setting is the war on crime. Visceral Games have put together a more substantial single-player campaign than what most Battlefield veterans will be used to. On the whole it feels like the game has benefitted from being passed to a new developer other than Dice. Their previous entry, Battlefield 4, felt incredibly rushed and was released in a broken and buggy state, although Dice admirably admitted their mistake and spent the necessary time and resources to fix it.
So Hardline has an expanded single-player campaign, but is it any good? You play as detective Nick Mendoza who with his new partner, Khai (voiced and modelled on Kelly Hu) are investigating and fighting the battle against drug crime in Miami. The plot takes us through many locations; miami ghetto neighbourhoods, swamps, and the more dramatic shopping malls during a hurricane (and the standard warehouses filled with crates). The story tries hard to be a gritty crime tv show, even splitting it into episodes - when you finish an episode and stop playing you get a “next time on hardline…” clip and when resuming a similar “previously on hardline…” clip which is a nice touch. There are aspects of what I assume are pieces lifted from crime shows such as CSI Miami but I often felt like it was trying to be The Shield (fantastic show) to the point where they even have Benito Martinez as the captain.
Hardline’s missions generally involve getting into a location and completing an objective - be it sneaking with stealth or blasting your way in rambo style. The maps are usually large, battlefield-sized(!), which can give multiple paths through the level. I wouldn’t go as far to describe it as open - there are scripted sequences to tie everything together and keep the plot moving forward - and at times it is also very linear, but the game excels when it drops you into these more open situations.
You are rewarded with weapon unlocks for arresting criminals/baddies by getting them to surrender by showing your badge (with a hotkey) and then cuffing them (with another hotkey). The stealth is serviceable, but it is hampered by the original Metal Gear Solid level of enemy artificial intelligence (ie pretty shit for a modern game). You regularly encounter enemies that constantly have their back to you and never move, so are easy to dispatch, or you can throw a shell casing in the vicinity of several enemies but only one is drawn to it. So what usually happened during my playthrough was I would attempt a stealth playthrough of a map, get to a point where it would take me several minutes of waiting to continue, get bored and shoot someone or get spotted and end up finishing all guns blazing. At least the gunplay is very good fun like in all Battlefields and there is a varied arsenal of weaponry to wield with some more police-y weapons added to it - e.g. a non-lethal taser.
The vehicle sections are the weakest part of the single-player campaign, which is weird because I really enjoy using the vehicles in the multiplayer, they just feel very linear and on rails, it was like they contractually had to include these, I wouldn’t have bothered!
So is it any good? Well like any good blockbuster movie it kept me entertained for a good 8 or so hours, but I imagine I will get much more enjoyment out of the fantastic multiplayer. So I cannot recommend the game based entirely on the merits of the single-player campaign but it is a solid action game that is much stronger than previous Battlefield offerings - when coupled with the traditional Battlefield MP, it brings it up to recommended status.