This article contains spoilers of the prologue of Battlefield Hardline—
viewer discretion is advised reading forward
Battlefield Hardline‘s prologue starts out as an opening cutscene with Detective Nicholas Mendoza, played by Nicholas Gonzalez, who has starred in several crime dramas like Dirty, Scenes of the Crime, Spun, Down for Life, and S.W.A.T.: Firefight. Nicholas Mendoza, accused of being a dirty cop, is being transported in an orange jumpsuit on a prison bus through an unknown location— which looks to be a desert. Cut back three years, now you are in Miami, Florida, playing as Detective Mendoza, who is part of fictional Miami-Dade Police Department’s Vice unit. Yourself and Detective Stoddard come up across a room in a hotel to conduct a drug bust… but it goes wrong.
Between the prologue and mission one, Visceral Games created an introduction that plays along very similar to the Law and Order crime drama series, with a musical replacement of Jamie Commons’ “Karma” instead of “dun dun duh duh dun dun dunnnnnnn“. Battlefield Hardline presents itself like a crime drama series placing all-star cast names, video shorts, and photo snapshots in a 30-second introduction after a very short and limited-in-interaction mission.
GOLDEN, BUT STILL A FEW BUMPS
Hardline is set to release the 17th of March and the game trialed on EA Access has the full multiplayer experience, including the first two campaign missions. The graphics, gameplay, sound, and so on are that of what will be in the retail disk and marketplace download copies. Basically, it represents the full game. While in the prologue mission, multiple instances of game lag and sound cuts are present while conducting the drug bust in the Miami hotel. Throughout the pursuit following the drug bust gone wrong, the traffic interaction with the police car you are in is very awkward. If you accidentally crash into a car, it seems like the car you crash into is a building and you come instantly to a complete stop. The impact does not cause either car to move with proper physics. In fact, neither car will move due to the impact. Understandably the map is restricted during the pursuit, but it feels too scripted and does not allow you to end the pursuit on your terms, though when you get to the scripted end, the sound levels go crazy with a 0 to 100 mph change; enough to make myself and anyone else in the room uncomfortable.
To make up for it’s small shortcomings, the graphics (even on Xbox’s limited 720p render) are stunning for DICE’s outdated Frostbite 3 engine, which has been previously used on a one [Battlefield] game basis, now working on it’s second game. The lighting in the hotel is very realistic, including shadows and reflections. Lighting from the exit signage and the overhead lights reflect off the hotel doors, which seem interestingly shiny. Though the uncomfortable sound spikes, the sounds of accidents and other vibrant sounds are very realistic and make the emotion of the scene come together. After being sabotaged by a female “crackhead” in the room’s bathroom and a pursuing fire fight, the sound of screams from people staying in rooms below and around the room you raided and the sirens of police (which seem to be almost instant after the shootout) sound like they are coming from behind walls and floors; a sound, known as flutter echo, that is very hard to accurately record.
LAW AND DISORDER
Breaking away from the typical war series, Visceral Games brings viewers to a homefront war between criminals and police with a hybrid style of most television crime dramas. Influences of Law and Order, The Shield, and even hints of Blue Bloods and Hawaii Five-0 can be spotted in the first part of the game and from other previously shared missions. The challenge presented is to create a campaign that seems authentic and doesn’t veer off the gritty and dark aura of crime, thrill, and good ‘ol police work. The community interest in “play as police” is high, and modification of already made games to accustom the play style, like Grand Theft Auto 4’s LCPD:FR modification that allows you to openly play as police officer, initiate traffic stops, respond to crimes in progress, and so on, are popular and in demand to become full games. Visceral introduces multiplayer modes Hotwire, Heists, Rescue, Blood Money, and Crosshair to the multiplayer experience changing the normal Battlefield playlist up to accompany the cops versus robbers style gameplay and give it that certain police / organized crime feel. Unfortunately staying with the series is the Team Deathmatch and Conquest game modes which gives an awkward feel to the Hardline game. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Conquest game mode; [and even though I never had too much interest in the Team Deathmatch mode] they are are still part of the Battlefield series and make it different than Call of Duty. The only issue is when you replace the US armed forces versus the Russians with Police and SRT (Special Response Teams) versus criminals, you rarely see a citywide firefight [in real life], which is what these two game modes bring on.
It’s very difficult to cultivate a game that was designed to be a war game to become a police crime drama, and expect the people to love it for what it is. Would it be easier to make an entirely separate game series for the police storyline? Probably. Would it pick up as quickly as the Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises without the Battlefield name on the box. Unfortunately no, unless proper marketing for the game was done. But here’s what we do know. Visceral Games rose to the challenge of evolving the Battlefield series into something new and exciting, just like DICE did with the Battlefield breakoff series of Bad Company and Bad Company 2. I’m excited to see where this game goes and if it has the public backing to become the next “Bad Company”, it certainly has the humor element as seen in the cuban food scene between the two detective in the prologue mission.
Cuban? Jesus Christ, Nick, you’re in Vice now. You can afford better than beans and rice.
Look for our review, which will be posted under the Battlefield Hardline page after the games release on March 17th. Keep up to date on all things Battlefield Hardline through our Facebook and Twitter as well. You can also follow the Battlefield Hardline page to receive daily updates on your LevelSave account. Until then, pick up a controller and game!