Game Theory If there’s one area of the Battlefield formula you’d say needs most work, it would undoubtedly be its single-player component. Recent offerings have promised much in hyped-up trailers, showing blazing gunfights and falling buildings. But, ultimately, each has fallen short when it comes to a cohesive storyline and noteworthy gameplay.
With Battlefield Hardline, EA has decided to shake things up. First, by moving the series from war on terror to war on drugs, and second, by handing the single-player experience to Dead Space developer, Visceral Games. The big question, then, is how will a studio famed for sci-fi horror fare when it comes to delivering a police thriller? Well, not too shabbily, it has to be said. In fact, Hardline’s campaign is by far the most enjoyable and memorable of any Battlefield game I’ve played.
Yes, it ticks pretty much every box on the police drama checklist – the only thing missing amid plot twists and dirty cops is it being the hero’s last day before retirement. But, arguably, a game needs to be more The Shield than The Wire to provide the requisite amount of action anyway.
This brings us swiftly to where Hardline truly distinguishes itself from its predecessors: a nice injection of well-implemented stealth.
As you might expect, the player character, Officer Nick Mendoza, is always on the look-out to avoid a shoot-out if he can. Therefore large amounts of Hardline’s missions – or episodes as they’re referred to – can be completed by arresting suspects, rather than shooting them.
To do this, you have to successfully take criminals unaware (in groups of three or less) and hit the arrest button. This makes Mendoza shout "hands-up" at them, forcing them to drop their weapons. You then have to keep your aiming reticule trained on your would-be detainees to stop them reaching for their weapons as you arrest each in turn.
Mendoza makes an arrest
Limitless amounts of handcuffs aside, it makes for a slightly more realistic approach to police work. It also creates tactical sections not unlike those of The Last of Us, as you throw shell casings to distract bad guys and creep around to their blind spots. Most episodes won’t let you have it all your own way, though, and generally provide scenarios where the only way to progress is with guns blazing.