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Battlefield Hardline!

The latest in the critically acclaimed Battlefield franchise has arrived to much hype, but will the latest in the series be able to change things up enough to satisfy eager gamers?

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Damn You, Coppers: Taking a break from the military focused narrative of past Battlefield installments, Hardline shifts the focus to an urban setting that revolves around cops and robbers, primarily in Florida. The main protagonist is Nick Mendoza, a Cuban immigrant and a fairly new addition to the police department.

Generally taking many queues from TV cop-dramas and movies, Hardline spins the tale of Mendozas interactions with his first partner, his next, the police chief and their hunts for justice in Florida.

At the heart of it all is a typical storyline that sees a new drug being leaked onto the streets, with the source being a difficult man to find. While that may seem to be a laughably rudimentary, basic plotline, there are an abundance of twists and turns in the narrative that showcase the many other factors at work beyond simply a new drug being distributed to the populace.

Without giving anything away, it is safe to say that the story is turned on its head often enough to keep the player interested, and over the course of the campaign you will undoubtedly be waiting to see what comes next. Now, the biggest issue with the single player is not necessarily the storyline itself, but rather the gameplay and overall length of it.

The Short Bus: On a fairly slow paced run, I was able to see the credits roll in under six hours, and I feel a speed run of the campaign could force the culmination of the story is under five hours easily. That being said, there is some motivation to go through the storyline at a slower pace, in the form of collecting evidence.

Throughout each of the 10 chapters that the story is broken up into, you will utilize a handy scanner that you can use to survey the areas you currently inhabit. With the scanner, you will find and analyze evidence that gives a slight backstory on what your current investigations are, and your underlying thoughts on the events transpiring.

It is, to be fair, a somewhat cheap way to extend the campaign by precious minutes when you are scanning your environment for small clues and additions to the case files (that culminate nicely in the form of a cinematic synopsis when you collect all of the available evidence for that particular case).

In terms of gameplay, the single player could not be much further away from what is experienced in multiplayer exploits. With a quick flash of your badge, or a menacing point of your finger (I am not even joking), as well as a shout of Freeze! you will be able to force the surrender of up to three enemies at once.

The laughably simple system carries throughout the campaign without any alteration, and from the Prologue all the way to Chapter 10, you will continually be holding up enemies at badge-point in order to arrest them. The only reason to do so is a higher amount of points added to your overall Mastery rank, which, as it is leveled up, will provide you with a loftier array of armaments.

However, the system is flawed in the sense that it is easy to attain the maximum Mastery rank of 15 well before the final chapter even begins, if only by doing something so simple as arresting two or three enemies out of every small group.

Go Where the Action Is: The multiplayer, naturally, is where the most entertainment value is found. With traditional modes such as Conquest (essentially Domination, of Call of Duty fame) and Team Deathmatch, the modes are stirred up by the inclusion of Hotline, essentially heists, and Blood Money.

While the traditional modes are self-explanatory - albeit aided greatly by the inclusion of hardcore versions that remove the HUD, mini map and reticles Hotline and Blood Money are the new additions to the family that are receiving a lot of attention from gamers.

Blood Money takes a page out of nearly every bank heist and dramatic robbery scene in entertainment history, as you find two factions (the cops and robbers, of course) battling over a single vault in the middle of the map. Both factions are raiding the money within and are tasked with bringing the loot back to their own vault on respective sides of the map.

Simple at its core, the action is heightened when you realize how important teammates are in this mode. With a wheelman required to drive the van that will escort, ideally, the entire team back to your own vault, dependence on your fellow looters is something you become quickly aware of.

While you very well can load up handfuls of cash and bolt out of the center vault, it serves the entire team well to coordinate their exit and leave simultaneously in the same vehicles. Rather, novice teams will often abandon each other in timeless bouts of greed and cowardice; it is not uncommon to see one person drive away with a couple fistfuls of cash, leaving the rest of his team to scramble and die attempting to escape.

Hotline is a bit less dependent on the gracious nature of your teammates, as vehicles act as moving capture points that amass score for your team. The mobility of the vehicles make them a difficult target to stifle on foot, and in a way similar to the Decryption mode showcased in Watch Dogs, you will often find the drivers skirting around the outer rims of the map limits.

The mode can be fun and planning out the potential path of your targets is exciting, particularly if your suspicions are validated and you happen to blow up their mobile capture point. However, the majority of time is still spent in Conquest, Blood Money and Team Deathmatch, with Hotline acting as the most neglected of the modes.

Once again, in all modes the vehicles are a potentially large turning point for any match. With helicopters, motorcycles, armored vans and SUVs at your disposal, a fully loaded vehicle with a decent driver and focused gunmen can easily shift a match in your favor. The instances in which competent drivers are found are few and far between, but when everything comes together in a strong, coherent manner there is no doubt that Battlefield is a title that does vehicles in multiplayer right.

Rent vs. Buy: There is much to be said about the excellent, but short lived campaign of Battlefield Hardline. While it is a detriment to the image of perfection that much of Hardline manages to attain, in all honesty it is quite clear that most gamers buy a title like Hardline generally for the multiplayer.

Fortunately, the multiplayer shines and is an utter time-sink for gamers. Simple things such as ranking up, amassing money with which you purchase new equipment and weapons with and learning the subtleties of every map serve as excellent distractions from not only your pathetic life but also the actual exquisite Battlefield gameplay as a whole.

Assuming you are not foolish enough to expect a lengthy campaign that you will replay over and over, there is assuredly very little reason not to pick up what turned out to be one of the best installments in the long running Battlefield series.

Report Card

Assuming you are not foolish enough to expect a lengthy campaign that you will replay over and over, there is assuredly very little reason not to pick up what turned out to be one of the best installments in the long running Battlefield series. (Krakrabbit.com)


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