The thinking man’s shooting game. That’s what I always thought about Battlefield, though I was never sure if it was a good thing or not.
I mean if you’re going to be mindlessly shooting things isn’t that what it should be? Mindless? Not that I ever played any of them of course, which is a pity because I could’ve taken up a whole paragraph discussing the differences between the Digital Illusions version of Battlefield and that of Visceral Games.
The new Battlefield from Visceral games (Dead Space) is in front of me right now as is Battlefield Hardline. Even though that was a lie and I’m in a library it was in front of me until 5am two days in a row and I did complete the campaign of Battlefield Hardline in a dedicated small period of time so that I could tell you all about it last week. Then I completely forgot to write anything because I slept in until 5pm.
I got a PS4 relatively recently, and as I stared at a list of games I’ve never heard of I decided to download the Beta for Battlefield Hardline. I never normally go into the FPS world simply because I’m closed minded and protective over held beliefs that First Person Shooters are for idiots and that they aren’t very good despite having previously played Dying Light, Deus Ex, Alien vs Predator, Advanced Warfare, Doom, Quake and many more which I enjoyed deliciously. To quote Richard Herring, “What’s the point in having a philosophy if you are just going to change it half way through your life based on some new evidence?”
However though I have admitted to being an FPS bigot in the past I can now admit that I am a changed man, even with the first few minutes of being killed to death by everyone I met, I started to realise the potential in such incredibly well designed games and maps. I think the problem with games and maybe the general feeling of avoiding what’s popular stems from the fact that almost, not all, but almost everyone is an idiot. When 90% of the planet like something with great passion and 70% of the planet are unbearable idiots then you can accidentally, and often quite correctly, assume that whatever is mainstream is going to de designed to appeal to drooling gibbering twits. I say twits of course because I forgot to ask the website its conditions on bad language.
Yet again I have been proven wrong, and Battlefield Hardline has impressed me no end, it is fun, and it is interesting. I get the feeling they think the storyline is better than it is, but it plays out like an episode of a crime drama that you are taking part in, but much more fluidly meandering between plot and gameplay in such a way that facilitates my enjoyment and not alienating me like The Order did. The self aware Episodic end screen is designed to look like the Netflix ’The next episode starts in 15 seconds…” screen which I quietly enjoyed. Armed with a seemingly infinite amount of handcuffs I could make the decision to stealthily take targets out by arresting or firing a taser at them or get into a blazing gunfight.
The addition of the warrants in the game (a specific high reward person you must stealthily arrest à la Hitman), made it easier to motivate myself towards a stealthy approach. It wasn’t long until I found myself running around like a red bull fuelled puppy with diarrhoea whenever the ‘shooting’ parts started. I’m bad at shooting, but I’m really bad at stealth, I’m fairly sure this game made me better at both. The other element of the game that I enjoyed was searching for evidence to put together a bit of background story fleshing out what I was experiencing and who the characters were and I got given more things to do than simply shooting and looting. Because we are in a post Breaking Bad world there was obviously many mentions of meth labs and even some of Ricin which was interesting but the Battlefield Hardline tried really hard to put together its own world of intrigue and deception. The mixture of trophies, evidence collection, levelling up and the mixed elements of the game moving you from cop to criminal to James Bond made it a lovely experience.
The online I didn’t have as much time to invest in it I must admit, the heist missions are great fun, basically a capture the flag style game. Unfortunately I, after becoming Dirty Harry in the campaign mode, had been left online playing with a team of people who seemed to be controlling their characters by kiestering their gamepads, whereas I was playing against a team of psychic cyborgs. It is a fast, brutal and addictive collection of online challenges, with its own level up and reward system with its own built in bragging system where it will fire evidence of completed challenges onto Facebook to a whole army of uninterested acquaintances.
On the downside the game would sometimes autosave right in the middle of an awkward fight where I was left wit nothing but a damp sock and my dreams to defend myself with, getting chased around massive rocks by Rambo 5000.
The storyline does start to discard plot for action, but given the circumstances its the preferred option but I would’ve enjoyed a slightly less predictable storyline. The game tries to give the impression of being non-linear, sometimes better than others but at the very most I had to cross the road to analyse a grave. Would it be all that bad to add side quests to a game like this? Though maybe that would be one more step towards the generic Ultimate First Person Dystopian Sing-along sandbox RPG thats best avoided.
Ultimately only avoid this game if you have a bit of beef with EA for some reason <ahem>, but if you think that Battlefield is unappealing this may be the game to convince you otherwise.