Battlefield Hardline: A Hidden Crime Jewel of First Person Shooters

4 Dec

While everyone knows I have written a few crime books, it seems to be the most capitalistic and profitable marketplace in the entertainment industry. From the Godfather’s sullen tone of gritty realism to Miami Vice’s bleached out 80’s feel, to Philip K. Dick’s “A Scanner Darkly” study the nature of cop and criminal in the future, and even the snowy backdrop of Norway’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo exploring the depths of abuse, to Michael Mann’s bank robber saga Heat, crime has always found a way into the worldwide entertainment field with varying and multifaceted success. Battlefield Hardline (2015) produced by DICE Visceral, and published by EA, is a long running video game franchise that everyone else caught onto before me, but most of my reviews are made to reflect my own personal outlook, rather than a critical and mass appeal bias of the time. While many would praise Battlefield 1 for the emotional core the game delivers, while falsifying some facts about Lawrence of Arabia, to hide his rape from the world wide audience of game players, Battlefield Hardline was a game that went under my radar. 

            Graphically, and story wise, this is the most tightly written video game of the Battlefield franchise, that proves cop and criminal are related. What is presented is fairly simple story line. Nick, a Cuban refugee, who is pulled into a dark web of corruption with his teammates in the Miami police department, is on the road to redemption, through twists and turns that would make Michael Mann rewrite his scripts if he saw this game. The writing is superb for a first person shooter, as there is Stoddard, who we are introduced tells Nick, “let me pick the place and you won’t eat beans for the rest of your life.”

            The humor in the game is understated and it hits the mark when Tyler Hatchford, a villain who becomes your friend, follows Nick to a cocaine dealers operation with a quip, “It seems our days has been quiet enough.”

            For a first person shooter, I am amazed people don’t talk about this game. Maybe I am just slow to the curve, Battlefield 1 delivers overall for the emotional punch about men in war, and how much character relies on story to balance out the plot, is a masterpiece in itself. But Hardline sacrifices separate narrative structure Battlefield 1 produced in return for a gritty, fun, and often deep game that ponders what it means to be a cop and a criminal. Sometimes criminals can be good and cops can be bad, while still feeling like they are real people at the same time. The cast of characters are ranged from misfit tech nerds, to bunker type dwellers, who “might” have nukes. The back and forth dialogue is stellar and the voice acting is stellar as well.

            The ability to arrest people before you shoot in the first five chapters delivers such a swift satisfaction once you arrest a high valued felon, awarding you with points to get certain gear and ammo. If you use a gun long enough in the game, you get more perks, like scopes, silencers, and many other guns that would be available after you play through it once. 

            Being able to play detective, searching for evidence, also helps weave the tightly written plot closer as you discover that your cop friends are in on the take, and then punish Nick after for not taking the money. What was obtuse is the cameo tank fight in Chapter 8, where the controls are really off. Pressing R2 while you have to guide the tank away in a hostile fight, and the controls are more off than it does. Stoppard is kind of killed off when he tries to invade Nick’s base and it’s weird because he seemed like a really interesting character to kill off, but considering that Stoppard was a hothead, it made sense, as it was his trajectory. 

            The gameplay and the guns are like walking through Miami coke dealer’s gun locker over the last twenty years, as even a double barrel shotgun appears, and that’s always a good thing. You know if the Doomslayer appears, you have it ready for him. 

            Overall, the game is very short, stellar graphics, story, the exploding buildings and wall splatter (are fucking awesome) but there are a few caveats. The way you duck behind cover and then the NPC pushes you away from your cover spot, nearly getting you killed, happened more than once. Another thing to address is that in Chapter 8, if you target someone with a military aircraft gun, and shoot a guy, there is no exploding chunks. So, that took me out of it, but it was a nitpick. Other than that, this is the realistic version of what GTA 5 could be, and if you want less Tarantino style dialogue, this is the game for you. I hope Dice and EA continue the Hardline series, but then again, maybe some tales are better left untold.

            Final Rating: 8/10  

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