EA recently invited me to play some of the single player campaign for their forthcoming game Battlefield Hardline.
Back at E3 2014, EA announced Battlefield Hardline. This time, instead of being a military shooter, it was all about cops and robbers. They then proceeded to show off some multiplayer content, and offer people the chance to play multiplayer. But at the time they were being very quiet about the single player campaign, until now.
Developed by Visceral Games (of Dead Space 3 fame) Battlefield Hardline sees you playing Nick Mendoza, a cop on the streets on Miami trying to stop the spread of a drug called Hotshot. Your partner is Detective Khai (who looks like and is voiced by Kelly Hu) and together you both go in search of Hotshot. This is basically the tutorial level of the game.
One new cool piece of tech is the police scanner, which enables you to highlight and identify criminals, track them, listen to their conversations from afar and to also examine evidence. Not bad for a smartphone app! Searching for and examining evidence is a crucial part of the game and you cannot continue through a level unless you have found the relevant evidence.
Unlike previous Battlefield games, you don't have to go all out shooting everyone if you don't want to. In fact, you are rewarded for what is referred to in the game as Non-Lethal takedowns. This includes knocking out the bad guys and even using your Taser on them. You also have the ability to flash your badge and shout freeze, which results in most criminals dropping their guns and putting their hands up. But don't be fooled, because you need to keep your gun trained on them until you have cuffed them, otherwise they will go for their guns and start shooting. The way to do handle these situations is to keep sweeping your gun between the criminals in front of you. You see a red bar indicating a threat and when you sweep your gun in that direction the threat disappears. Then you just take them down and cuff them.
Once I finished the first level we quickly jumped to the 9th level which takes place sometime after the events of the 1st level - EA have asked me not to spoil the story by revealing what happened, so let's just say that Nick and Khai are no longer cops. This level sees us trying to gain access to a building in order to break into a vault. This building is heavily, and I do mean heavily guarded and this is where another of Hardlines new features comes into play - the ability to use multiple different ways to achieve your goal. In this case, to enter the building. You could go in the front all guns blazing, or you could sneak around the back, or why not do what I did and go across the street to the parking garage and zip line your way in? There are multiple different choices and it's entirely up to you which one to take. The outcome may be the same but it gives you a choice.
Once inside my team had to fight their way through to the vault, and as usual it doesn't go according to the plan. Here's where the ability to choose different types of weapons, including trip mines comes in very handy. You get a few moments to place some traps before the next wave comes in and you have to fight to survive.
Without giving to much away the level ends with you having to escape the police - and there is a very funny moment when you crash through a window into a room full of cops and you quickly flash your badge and shout freeze (you may not be a cop anymore but you kept your badge) - and the expressions on the faces of the cops is priceless. It's one of those blink and you miss it moments but it's the sort of scene you would see in a buddy cop movie.
I really enjoyed my time with Battlefield Hardline and I can't wait to play some more.
In the video below, we have around 5 minutes of gameplay from levels 1 and 9 - and don't worry, we won't spoil any of the story by telling you what happens between those levels, or really why we are doing what we are doing in level 9:
Battlefield Hardline will be released in March 2015.