Review Price to be confirmed
Battlefield Hardline Single Player PreviewAvailable on PC, Xbox One, PS4 (tested), Xbox 360 and PS3
Battlefield Hardline release date – March 17 2015
Although Battlefield multiplayer is usually the main appeal for the game franchise, I’ve personally always been more interested in the stories being told in the main campaign.
That is even more the case for Battlefield Hardline, where Visceral Games (of Dead Space fame) has got involved to improved the quality of the single-player section of the game. Visceral has changed the format for Hardline, making it more episodical thanks to its police drama focus. Plus, it has also got some big acting names on board for Hardline – although not quite the level of Kevin Spacey for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
Both EA Games and Visceral have kept their cards close to their chest for the single-player campaign, showing off the multiplayer portion of the game at the big gaming shows like E3 and GamesCom.
But finally, I managed to get my hands on two of the Battlefield Hardline single-player episodes – albeit edited down for this preview session.
The first, entitled “Back to School” is meant to act as the game’s tutorial. Visceral claims we saw around 80 per cent of the full level, with only a small middle portion of the level unavailable.
Set in Miami, the first episode sees our hero, Nick Mendoza, still in the police force before whatever events end up turning him over to the dark side. It’s set in Miami and it’s immediately obvious why Visceral Games and EA have chosen this as the opening level.
You started out in a car with your partner, Khai Minh Dao, in a rather extended cutscene where all we could do was look around at the Miami neighbourhoods. The facial animations are exceedingly realistic, only further improved by the attention to details like skin textures. A lot of work has obviously been taken to correctly motion capture the actors for Hardline.
The Miami landscape itself has obviously been given the next-gen treatment too. The lighting effects saw the moonlight pierce through the misty air, while the Christmas lights on some of the houses reflected on the wet pavements and puddles on the ground. Steam could also been seen rising from potholes, which help increase the atmosphere of the opening level.
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Visceral Games has also made sure that the city itself feels alive – well at least in this opening section. All the NPC characters you pass have distinct personalities, and you even pass some of your cop buddies taking a burglar into custody; slamming his head down onto the bonnet of the car to cuff him, sadly with the suspect’s head clipping through the bonnet even in this heavily edited preview section.
It’s in this episode that you get a real feel for the variety of combat options at your disposal. Early on you get a taste of the power of your police badge, which you somehow retain in the later episode even after your days as a cop are long gone.
If you press L1 when approaching a suspect, you’ll whip out your badge. They’ll lower or drop their weapons, letting you then interrogate them as long as you can keep your gun trained on them. Thus starts a slightly irritating mini-game. You must keep those enemies fro reaching for their guns by consistently training your gun on your suspects. A red bar lies above their heads, so you must flick back and forth with your gun so the red bar doesn’t fill up and they’ve had a chance to reach for their gun.
It requires quick movements and reactions, because once they’ve been given a chance to grab their gun, you’re done for. I decided it was a good idea to cuff and floor them before they could take us out by press R3, because their draw speed is far faster than ours.
In the game you can use this “Freeze” tactic to subdue three enemies at a time, and even though I only had two to keep in check, it’s tricky work.
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Next you’re introduced to the extremely valuable Police Scanner. You bring it up by pressing R1 and just as in games like Far Cry 3, you can use the scanner to tag enemies, suspects and other persons of interest. It’ll even let you highlight when one of the enemies has an outstanding warrant, meaning you’ll get extra points if you take them down without killing them.
The scanner is also used to obtain some of the game’s unlockables. It will buzz where there’s a crimescene nearby and evidence to collect. These evidence trails will spread across several episodes, incentivising you to go back and made sure you’ve used the scanner to its best abilities.
As you’ll find out as you progress through the game, there’s a strong emphasis on the plethora of gadgets available to you in Battlefield Hardline. You are positively encouraged to use as many as you can to outfox the enemies.
That became very apparent as we moved onto our second slice of single player campaign, located somewhere in Episode 9 “Independence Day”. This introduced us to the game’s Fortress mechanic, which Visceral said is an important gameplay mechanic for Hardline. In fact, around half of the single-player combat is set up in this way.
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Basically we were tasked with infiltrating the office building of one of the game’s antagonists. Nick and his accomplices are dropped outside the high-rise building and it’s up to you how to tackle the approach.
I scaled a nearby car park to get some height on the main entrance to the building, using the scanner to tag enemies and those with outstanding warrants for non-lethal takedowns. Then came the choice to do the traditional Battlefield entry with all guns blazing or go a little more Metal Gear Solid and take the stealth route.
Heading around the side of the building, I singled out a few guards by throwing a distraction coin with the touch pad and then quietly took them out from behind with a bash on the head. The game rewards you for lethal and non-lethal takedowns, so there is some kind of moral compass in the game to be explored.
As is normal with the Battlefield franchise, there are also a lot of weapons to utilise in your single-player campaign. I kitted out a single-shot rifle with a silencer for my stealth entrance and it worked a treat.
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Once I made it into the locked executive suite lift by scanning the PIN pad and using the fingerprints left behind to work out the code, that’s when things got really interesting. I had to defend my accomplices and the safe we were trying to break into by using as many gadgets and gizmos as I could lay my hands on.
There’s trip mines, night vision scopes, gas masks, zip lines and crow bars among other things to use against the enemy. And if you don’t use them to your advantage you’ll find yourself quickly overrun in these fortress scenarios.
To highlight the fact you’re probably doing it wrong, Hardline delivers you back to the weapon selection screen every time you die. Although this might only be for our preview build, it felt a little jarring to remind you there’s loads of other weapon choices – especially when we were in an area with its own weapon store.
It’s refreshing to see a Battlefield game take a slightly different approach to missions. Hardline does away with the conventional linear approach and offers players choice – and lots of it. Whether that’s with weapons, gadgets or just the way you approach an enemy base.
Battlefield Hardline is doing something very different to its predecessors or the likes of other upcoming FPS titles. There’s a lot of gameplay content and mechanics that are totally different from previous Battefield games. I can’t wait to play more of the single player campaign and see how impacting the story really is, because I’m already captivated by the cast.
Battlefield Hardline Multiplayer PreviewAt E3 2014 we has a play with the mutliplayer portion of the Battlefield: Hardline, so we're yet to see the single player campaign in action. We tried a mode known as Heist, which pitches a team of cops and robbers against each other trying to get a load of money back to their base, or steal it from the opposition's safe house.
This new mode can support up to 32 players at once, making for the same explosive multiplayer action we've grown accustomed to with Battlefield games.
We tried the Los Angeles map, picked to celebrate the location of the E3 gaming conference. The map is compact and frantic, and you can use the new police vehicles to your advantage.
For example, you'll have access to the standard cop car for running down robbers on the run, or the armoured 4x4 vehicles, which can blast out smoke bombs to confuse the enemy while you mow them down with bullets.
If you're looking for a speedy exit or entrance into the fray, you can always grab a motorcycle with a team mate riding with you to take down the opposition looking to rifle through your loot.
Each player can carry up to a maximum of $1 million each run, but you'll need to stack up those bills in $100,000 piles in your bag, waiting a short period for each to be deposited. Lucky gamers will be able to grab their maximum cash quota and dash back to their safe house before being gunned down, but obviously this is easier said than done.
Plus if you do die, the enemy can pick up your dropped stash and take it back to their base before you've even respawned.
Particularly cunning and quick players looking to protect their base will also be able to utilise the maps' in-built distractions, such as raising the bollards in the entrance of the parking lot to incapacitate enemy vehicles, letting you take them out before they have a chance to bail out of their chosen ride.
We did find ourselves driving through bollards and trees in the beta, but this will no doubt be fixed by the final version. You wouldn't find things like that happening in Battlefield 4.
Although currently in beta, we were a little disappointed with the graphical fidelity of certain aspects of Battlefield: Hardline. When you compare it to Battlefield 4, there are distinct graphical downgrades in terms of environments and guns, but again we're putting this down to the beta status. The in-car dashboard is far from crisp and detailed, in fact it looks like something you'd find in PS2 driving games in its current state.
Of course, graphics aren't the main appeal of the Battlefield multiplayer, but as we were playing on the PS4, we were hoping for a little more detail. As we said though, DICE has several months before the actual game is released on October 21, so there is plenty of time to tweak the graphics.
From what we've seen so far, it looks like Battlefield: Hardline will offer the same level of multiplayer as previous titles, but with the military themes replaced by good old cops and robbers.
The LA multiplayer map certainly looks promising and we'll be intrigued to see how the new Heist mode runs in other maps, especially larger ones.
First ImpressionsHopefully, Battlefield: Hardline will offer a super-strong storyline to partner its already critically acclaimed multiplayer gameplay. From what we've seen so far, the latter looks to be just as immersive, explosive and addictive as its always been, but with the cops and robbers twist. We've not seen the single-player campaign in action yet, but that will be the key to Battlefield: Hardline becoming the best Battlefield yet.
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