Battlefield Hardline: The Best Battlefield Campaign
This is a guest post: by Heath Dettwiller who you can find on twitter @HDeCo_27
To be up front about my bias on any Battlefield game, I am a HUGE fan. My love began on Battlefield 2 on PC and continues to Battlefield 1 today as the huge battles and tactical teamwork strike something deep at my gaming core that I simply can not get away from. Another thing I would like to address before we dive into this review is the fact that I did not spend dozens of hours in the multiplayer of Battlefield HardLine. The main reason for this I will touch on later in the review but the main focus of this review will remain on the single player campaign and why I think I it is the best in the series (spoiler warning).
Simple Plot for a Simple Man
For those who think I’m absolutely insane for saying Hardline has the best Campaign of the series, hear me out. The narrative that Hardline presents to the player is one that everyone saw coming from a mile away. You play as the good cop who is naive about the rest of his department being corrupt psychopaths that support and protect drug dealers in Miami, Florida (duh), good cop gets in trouble with current partner for sloppy shootout with drug dealers (duh), good cop gets badass partner who he gets to know trying to stop the corrupt ex partner (duh), Lastly good cop discovers everyone he works with is corrupt and he is framed and sent to jail (duh). Now that we have the weakest part of the game out of the way we can break down why I think that even though this straightforward episodic campaign that is completely predictable, is very well done. The arch of this story and where it takes the main character is something that I really appreciate as you start a straight cop and creep into a dark revenge story where you see what is coming but do not expect the polish that you see in characters and in gameplay.
Character is Important
I am sure that everyone can agree that the narrative is simple indeed. What this game does right is it’s characters. While their names are very generic and forgettable plus the things they do are very easy to see coming all of their jokes hit. Now when I mean hit well, I literally laughed out loud at least once every episode. The jokes just fit the characters perfectly and even though I don’t remember their names I love the fact that they are all so different and when they each speak I generally cared about what they had to say. Cut scenes are something that I pay attention to in every game and in this game I think full advantage was taken to show off the visual appeal of this game and gave the superb voice actors flex their vocal chords. Yes , I know, the game was released over two years ago when this review is done but I think as an early Xbox One game (what I played the game on) this game looks and sounds fantastic. Speaking of looks the final piece of character I would like to touch on before moving on is the locations. Miami is an easy place to make look beautiful in my opinion. Between beaches, buildings, and plenty of water to show off, the game really is easy on the eyes. I think this is especially apparent later in the game.Throughout the middle of the game you are in huge outside compounds in broad daylight to tight mansion settings set at night, Both are equally interesting and well designed to allow choice. My favorite location in the game is the last episode on an unexpected island landscape where there are multiple paths to take to your final objective.
Location, Location, Location, and Gameplay
As we just discussed, the locations are beautiful, But where I think Battlefield Hardline beats out all other Battlefield’s as far as the single player campaign goes is the level design. Hardline introduces very basic stealth mechanics that let you use these locations to your advantage. The stealth in this game is stable and consistent which I can appreciate. It has the vision cones you see in every simple stealth game which I am a fan of. I hate when I am playing a game with stealth sections that do not tell you when or where you can be spotted. Some may say this is trial and error and the learning curve that comes with playing a game. In my opinion, I think that stealth must be consistent with the ability to make it more difficult if you want by turning the cones off and using your “feel” for the game.
I played on the hardest difficulty from the start and found it imperative that I was able to manipulate the enemy AI with being quiet and tossing my unused bullets behind and enemy to draw their attention away from me while I snuck up behind them and knocked them out or flashed my badge and arrest hem for some extra points to add to my progression for unlocking gear and other weapons. Every episode starts with you being unseen by the enemy letting you pick your battles and even before that the game gives you options to pick what type of weapons and attachments for those weapons you would like use, whether it be a silencer on the pistol that keeps you approach quiet or a automatic rifle with an extended clip letting you take down more bad guys before having to reload. Earlier I mentioned an island was my favorite location and the reason being the same for most levels but just the options this level allows for the play to explore different scenarios whether it be going in guns blazing with a desert eagle on your hip, or using a silenced sniper rifle to pick off enemies one at a time, or getting close and arresting each enemy one at a time to gain the most xp possible. This was also the first mission that I found myself using the gear like the grapple hook that I did not realize I could use until I stumbled across the secret entrance to the Main compound on the island, after which I thought of all the places that it could have been used earlier. I found immediately after completing this episode I played it twice more a completely different way. Even after playing through most of the campaign stealthily I had not used much of the gear that I did not notice was available like the grapple and zipline.
At that moment for the first time in any Battlefield Campaign I went back and immediately started over. Not for the story, characters, or even the always tight Battlefield shooting mechanics it was the gear and locations that I instantly could traverse differently than I had before changing my outlook on how to get around some key levels in the game completely. While it did not change every one there is a level that I failed several times before getting just right where you start outside and must go from ground to rooftop back to ground and then back to another rooftop to reach your objective. With several enemies on several different stories to either pick off or try to avoid completely. The second time through it was so much fun to see where my grapple would reach and how far I could use the zip line to race in between buildings over enemy AI and land softly right outside my objective door. There is not a more satisfying feeling in games than using end game equipment and knowledge on an earlier that I really enjoyed.
Conclusion Too Obvious?
I hope it was not too obvious how I felt about this game but it is true, I do love this game’s single player. As I said earlier this did not have a heavy focus on multiplayer as it is kind of dead. There are not near as many players playing the several different game modes that I would want to try and be able to review properly. I would consider myself a very good Battlefield player but being so far beyond anyone that is still playing this game just was not worth it. I wanted to make that clear as I think it was probably very solid early upon release but the servers are currently littered with the hardcore Hardline players that mostly consist of clans and lone wolves that do not communicate.
With beautiful locations that give players like me the chance to experiment with several different types of gameplay on specific missions this game is a ton of fun and at a used price of $10 at gamestop this game turns a simple 7.5 hour campaign into a 20 hours of creative fun. I would recommend playing this game at the hardest difficulty so there is a real sense of tension trying to stay stealthy throughout a mission and real punishment for being discovered. I do think that the highest difficulty is fair even in all out gunfights. After being discovered, careful movement and some quick shooting can get you out of just about any situation. Due to checkpoints that reset the next section of enemies back to not knowing your sneaking around gives you the feeling that it’s ok to get discovered sometimes and have a “back to the wall” gunfight before you move to the next room. This game provides fun that is made by the player. It is not a technical masterpiece and won’t blow any minds but if you missed this game it is definitely worth your $10 for the single player alone.