Hearing the gunshots whiz across my ears, I steadily crawled towards the source. All of them were hunkered down at the veranda, suppressing anyone with an intention to go across. Inch by inch, I managed to get near with the help of a well-groomed hedge. As I was about to sneak a bullet between their eyes, I died, killed by a cop who spawned behind me.

Hardline’s multiplayer is a mix of heartaches, joys, and disappointments. The new game from the Battlefield franchise runs amiss, confused with its identity and how it tackles it. It solidly conforms with the dirt-soiled shoes left with its precursor. Lamentably, the shoes are too big to fill.

Check out our singleplayer review, here.

Character Customization

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The best way to start this review is to go directly to one’s online avatar. Battlefield is known for having customizations that are complex and intricate enough to bog down a real life gun. And such quality shows here, albeit in a very limited span. There’re no perks involved and players differ only because of their roles and loadout.

In Battlefield Hardline, we have four classes to choose from: Operator (Medic-Assault), Mechanic (Engineer), Enforcer (Heavy), and Professional (Marksman). Each class has its own unique equipment. Meaning that you can’t equip a Mechanic’s SMG for your Enforcer even if it’s already unlocked. Both cops and criminals have weapons that are exclusive to them, so your Police avatar can only handle guns that are statistically different from your Criminal loadout. Also, there are two slots for special equipment such as riot shields, grappling hooks, med kits, and other unique gear.

Primary guns can be loaded with up to three attachments. Each tool category has to meet a certain number of kills in order for you to unlock them. For example, if you wish to acquire that stubby grip for your M16, you first have to kill 90 players. Colors can also be coated for personal preference given that you have acquired them through ‘Battlepacks’.

Battlepacks are akin to ‘bundles of joy’ in online games. It contains random items such as temporary boosters, gun color, and attachments. The player can acquire them as reward from the singleplayer campaign or buy them via cash earned in Hardline’s multiplayer. We have yet to see the Battlepacks or the game itself employ real-life currency in its economy.

Game Modes

Sticking to the theme, Hardline offers players with a number of distinct Game Modes that make use of the cops and robbers setting.

Heist warrants the police to defend a vault full of cash against the marauding robbers. If cracked, the contents of the vault must be delivered to specific points across the map for the robbers to gain victory. For the police to win, they must whittle down the robbers’ tickets.

Blood Money forces both teams to fight for a cash puddle located in the middle of the map. The team with the most number of cash wins the match.

Hotwire is like a mobile King of the Hill. Points rack up whenever a target vehicle is revved up and driven at full-speed. As of this writing, this game mode is often times exploited by players aiming to get more in-game cash. The longer you stay in the vehicle, the more cash you gain. In that kind of setting, some players have already created servers where killing is banned/discouraged. All you have to do is drive around and get some cash.

For more engaging and compact sessions, Hardline has Rescue and Crosshair for that. Rescue is a hostage-taking scenario where the police must retrieve hostages guarded by the criminals. Crosshair is similar to CS’s VIP maps where the cops must defend the VIP while the criminals plan and execute assassination.

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Hardline also offers the beloved Conquest and Team Deathmatch game modes.

Level Design

The smaller scope of Hardline drives it for a more compact gameplay. It differs from the rolling hills and large battlegrounds that we’re used to with its military-themed siblings. As such, Hardline has that arcade-ish feel in fast-paced shooters. Blend Battlefield 4 and CS:GO and you get something like this game. Just don’t expect expansive plains and hills for tank warfare and huge airspaces for aerial combat.

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Most of the maps feature fully furnished and explorable interiors and at times, can also be destroyed. The offering is not limited to very concise ones as there still exist some maps that require vehicular transportation. This is due to the game focusing more on intimate encounters rather than distant engagements.

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Since this is a Battlefield game, vehicles are a typical mainstay. Again, due to its smaller nature, Hardline does away with tanks and jet planes, replacing them with inferior counterparts, rehauling them if need be, or completely removing them. Instead of having tanks, we now have armored cars with mini-guns and slow-moving helicopters as the kings of the sky.

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“Viva la LLLLevvvvvoollluuutiiooonnn!!!”

 

Hardline also has the ‘Levolution’ feature which transforms levels after satisfying conditions or time durations. I’ve encountered visually awesome ones such as sandstorms and unimpressive ones like hurricanes. Some have adverse effects to visibility and at times, also affect physics.

Why It Sucks (A bit)

Battlefield Hardline is not all glamour and fame. Things do work with its unproblematic launch and staple features. But it does have skeletons that require improvement and attention from the developers. Spawning is an undeniably faulty mechanic and I often times find myself getting killed after spawning at my own base. My next gripe is the limited arsenal. Sure, the setting holds little sway over large cannons and rifles, but the diminished number of choices is still hard to wrap one’s head around. Lastly, unbalanced guns. I recently found out that a certain gun has a very large damage output in close quarters. And surprise, Battlefield Hardline is mostly about face-to-face combat, and the gun does a splendid job of racking kills.

Oh, and one more thing: the looping soundtrack sucks. Everytime you get into a vehicle, a soundtrack composed of pop rock, hip-hop, among others, blare out to violate your eardrums. They were cool at first. But continuous exposure transformed it into a nuisance that nobody wants to come across.

Conclusion

Battlefield Hardline is a game that manages to do things right but suffers from the shadows of its predecessors. It keeps to the Battlefield theme of epic and spectacular matches but fumbles under the lightness of its design. One cannot deny that it is a strong game with a solid foundation. It is simple, it works, and there’s value in it. But I guess it’s still not good enough. And that is what makes it stick out like a sore thumb.

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Like how that crane failed.

 

Unsurprisingly, comparing it with Battlefield 4 is an uphill match. From a consumer’s standpoint, it is very hard to recommend Hardline. Given that BF4 has more content than this game makes it a very hard option, if it is at all. BF4 Premium Edition even costs less than Hardline! And you get more content, a polished game, and a larger player base to play with. If neck to neck, Hardline would undoubtedly lose. There’s no visual improvement, the guns are fewer, the servers are lacking, and to complete the package– intermittent bugs. If you’re planning on riding this wagon and leaving BF4, as of the moment, I don’t recommend it. You might be ajar as I’ve been comparing a two year old game versus one released a couple of months back, and admittedly, it is quite unfair. But if you have the cash to buy just one game, then go for the better investment.

Hardline may suck in the campaign part but the multiplayer has undeniably provided me enjoyment. It’s a fun ride, but one that needs more polish, more paint, and a better soundtrack.

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