Battlefield: Hardline: Cops and Robbers in an all-new warfare
Before being immersed in first-person shooters, I used to play Cops and Robbers as a kid. My friends and I would equip ourselves with imaginary guns or water pistols and chase after each other. Battlefield: Hardline looks to bring the childhood game back as a mature themed video game, where Criminals band together to try to grab the loot, while the Police use heavy firepower to stop them.
In many ways, Hardline seems to be a major downgrade for the Battlefield series. In Battlefield 4, players have access to a variety of vehicles to fight by land, sea and air. As fun as it might be to run people over in the police armored truck or hop into a police chopper, Hardline is a comparatively subdued experience. It really isn't until players start using aircraft and uncovers the full scope of the destructible environment that things get interesting, but that tends to happen late game if at all.
When first playing, it's hard not to compare Hardline to Payday 2, although there are some major differences between the two games. While Payday focuses on pulling off a successful heist, Hardline is all about open battle between the Police and Criminals, both armed to the teeth. Both sides currently have four classes at their disposal to turn the streets of Los Angeles into an urban warzone, which is supposed to play out like a TV show or movie. The Operator class is a the medic, the Mechanic starts with a rocket launcher, the Enforcer is the heavy gunner with extra ammo, and the Professional is the Sniper. The two sides pretty much mirror each other, right down to the heavy vehicles they can summon. Strangely, the Criminals also start with police batons for melee weapons.
The actual heist goes by pretty quickly, especially in the Heist game mode, where Criminals rob armored cars. From there, the Criminals must try to hold on to the loot and make a getaway to one of two drop-off points, while the police fire a ton of bullets at them. From there, things tend to play out more-or-less in the traditional Battlefield fashion. Fighting and getting kills earns points that will level up your character and earn money for gear.
Judging from the early gameplay, it seems like the Police have a slight advantage over the Criminals, despite having identical equipment. It might be because Criminals are generally forced into a defensive position. They have to protect armored car after they rig it to explode, then they have to defend each other while moving the loot. The Police can focus most of their attention on the package carriers, then camp out wherever the money gets dropped, to be successful.
The Blood Money mode seems a little more balanced, since both sides are expected to pick up money from one of two piles and bring them back to their respective vaults. Either side can decide to raid the other team's vault and steal money away to help balance the scales. In this mode, coordination and communication should be paramount to success, but that's a pretty tall order for games comprised of assembled strangers.
Hardline's two playable beta modes have a sense of excitement, but like most Battlefield matches I play, it involve a lot of dying and restarting. Players tend to drop so quickly, either by sniper bullets or vehicular collision, that I'm starting to wonder why the game has a medic class at all.
So far, it doesn't seem like Battlefield: Hardline is breaking much new ground, or even expanding on a world like Battlefield 4 does. In fact, as stated earlier, the experience seems significantly shrunken down. There are also disappointingly few opportunities to play strategically outside of gathering a squad together or piling into a vehicle to exert as much damage on the opposite team as possible. Instead of Criminals planning a heist, jumping into a getaway car, and making a run for it, matches tend to devolve into all-out street battles. Perhaps in that way, Hardline perfectly captures the Battlefield spirit: fast, loud and out of control.