By – Carlin Au


I’m in an abandoned school, recommissioned as a distribution center for a new drug called Hot Shot. My partner motions to the three suspects in front of us, signalling that they’re hostile. I throw two shell casings as distractions; one is thrown far to draw two of the suspects away and the other dropped nearby to lure the last target closer. My pistol is trained at the nearest target with my badge in hand. I reveal myself and raise my badge, whispering in a stern voice, “Police! Hands above your head.” I move closer to handcuff him and my partner reveals herself to the other two suspects. The suspects see her, but don’t react.

The story of Battlefield Hardline puts you in the boots of a Miami Police Detective named Nick Mendoza. He’s Cuban-born and a Miami local so he’s no stranger to the gang life around him. His partner, Khai, tends to get herself in messy situations, but always turns out on top. The characters, environments, and story progression are brilliantly done; I found myself enjoying every second of Battlefield Hardline’s campaign. Parts of a few missions reminded me of End of Watch and Burn Notice.

Some characters had intriguing backgrounds and the cities which Hardline puts you in feels lively. When Nick talks about his mother, his voice resounds with respect and Khai picks up on this. And these backstories have a point to them; they don’t exist for the sole purpose of making the player empathize with them, they also affect the progression of the story in a subtle way.   However, all of that is let down by the lackluster AI and poor stealth mechanics. The friendly AI keeps putting themselves in positions that leave themselves exposed to enemies.

Battlefield Hardline PC Review 1

Luckily enough, the enemy AI doesn’t recognize them at all and frequently doesn’t react to their presence. This is a problem that constantly pulls me out of immersion in Hardline. Even the enemy AI seems blind to what’s going on around them. I’ve handcuffed someone in the middle of their conversation with another suspect at least three feet away. It’s a bit mind boggling that a suspect could nonchalantly talk about eating Cuban food for lunch tomorrow while being arrested next to his friends.

The only reason why I was able to pull this off was the other person I didn’t arrest was turned the other way. If he was looking in the same direction, it wouldn’t be too hard to get him to look in the opposite direction; all I would have to do is toss a shell casing. In fact, the stealth mechanics of Hardline are limited to staying out of the visual cones of enemies, causing distractions, and silent takedowns. There were numerous times where I wanted to arrest suspects and put them in my car or somewhere they wouldn’t get in the way if a firefight broke out.

On the multiplayer side, not much has changed since the Beta last month. The maps still feel claustrophobic compared to other Battlefield games and the cops and robbers theme is blown out of proportion. Hardline looks, feels, and performs like a Battlefield game, but something feels off about the entire experience. The interface layout of the game is familiar and the basic mechanics of spawning in squads as one of the four cornerstone classes is there, but it feels simplified. Instead of the Support class’ signature light machine gun, Hardline’s new Enforcer class wields a shotgun. They both carry extra ammunition to share with teammates, but the class has lost a lot of its utility that it once had in previous releases.

Battlefield Hardline PC Review 1

Another noticeable change within the roles would be the Engineer, which has lost it’s anti-vehicle weapons in exchange for grenade launchers. One could argue there aren’t many vehicles to be destroyed and it wouldn’t make sense for Police members to carry FGM-148 Javelins or AT4s, but my point is that Visceral has tried to use Battlefield classes in a non-Battlefield context. Military combat is very different from urban law enforcement encounters, which is why a lot of the roles that exist in Battlefield feel out of place in Hardline. Because of this difference, I don’t believe Hardline belongs under the Battlefield franchise.

The ideas and methods used in Battlefield don’t fit naturally in a law enforcement context. They may share a few similarities, but the differences between the two necessitate a different design entirely. The biggest issues that stand out are the usage of zip-lines and grappling hooks. I seldom see those features used. These are the tools that make Hardline special in their law enforcement environment, but they’re not utilized often enough.  Hardline introduces a few new game modes: Heist, Hotwire, Blood Money, Rescue, and Crosshair. Heist, Hotwire, and Blood Money feel like typical Battlefield game modes with different conditions to win. Rescue and Crosshair are very different from the normal chaos that exists in Hardline’s predecessors though.

Playing either is very tense as each player gets one life per round. These game modes really bring out the unique traits of Hardline because gadgets are used more often. I’ve noticed that more players take advantage of using grappling hooks and zip lines to gain an advantage in position because every edge counts when there’s only one life to lose. Unfortunately, only a handful of servers run these game modes.

Battlefield Hardline PC Review 1

Performance in Hardline is around the same as it was in the Beta, hovering at around 47-50 fps on my rig on High Settings. For the most part, I haven’t seen any graphical bugs during my time in Hardline. Because Hardline runs on Frostbite 3, the performance should be relatively stable across many configurations. I haven’t experienced any issues regarding mouse acceleration or any other problems controlling Hardline with a mouse and keyboard.

The menus work as expected using mouse without funny quirks or input lag. Keys can be rebinded on the keyboard, mouse, and controller as the player sees fit. There’s an FOV slider that ranges from 60 to 120 with an additional option that sets FOV scaling on and off. Being able to turn FOV scaling off is a nice feature for those who like a wide field of view when they’re running, but like a decreased field of view when aiming. Graphical options range from setting Texture Quality and Filtering, Terrain Quality and Decoration, Lighting Quality, Effects Quality, Post Process Quality, and Mesh Quality from Low to Ultra. There are options for Anti-Aliasing Deferred and Post.

Anti-Aliasing can be turned off or set up to 4X Multisample Anti-Aliasing. Anti-Aliasing Post can be set from Low to High. Ambient Occlusion can be turned off or set between Screen Space Ambient Occlusion and Horizon-Based Ambient Occlusion. The amount of Motion Blur can be adjusted to the player’s liking and Weapon Depth of Field can be switched off. Players who are colorblind have the option to change the color of the icons around them.

Battlefield Hardline PC Review 1

Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?

If you’re looking for a Battlefield game to hold you over until the next entry in the series, I would wait for another release. Even though Hardline looks familiar and feels similar, the way it’s designed doesn’t fit well with the Battlefield doctrine. Battlefield is loud and bombastic and Hardline tunes all of it down to mere whispers while trying to keep up with its ideas. The single player campaign was interesting, but is let down by it’s poor AI and execution of mechanics. There are a lot of interesting concepts and designs in Hardline, but it faces an identity crisis as a tie-in under the Battlefield franchise.

Battlefield: Hardline Technical Summary:

Battlefield Hardline PC Review 1

  • Time Played – 22 Hours
  • Widescreen Support – Yes
  • Resolution Played – 1600×900
  • Windowed Mode – Yes
  • FOV Slider – Yes
  • 5.1 Audio Support – Yes
  • Bugs/Crashes Encountered – None
  • Control Scheme – Keyboard and Mouse
  • DRM – Origin
  • System Specs – 3.5Ghz i5 4690k, 12GB RAM, Sapphire Radeon HD 6870
  • Game Acquisition Method – Review Copy
  • Availability – Origin, GreenManGaming, GamersGate
  • Demo – No
  • Saved Game Location –  %USERPROFILE%\Documents\BFH\settings
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