Battlefield Hardline PS4 Review: Reasonably Arresting

Kat and Jaz deliver the verdict on the new-look Battlefield game: this time featuring cops vs. robbers.

Review by USgamer Team, .

Welcome to the official USgamer Battlefield Hardline review. Here, we've considered all aspects of the game as a whole, and offer an official score. You can find deeper dives into the specifics of the single-player game here, and the multiplayer game here.

Kat Bailey Senior Editor

If there is ever to be a television reboot of Miami Vice, I expect it'll beat at least a superficial resemblance to Hardline's single-player campaign, which tries hard to evoke the classic '80s cop drama. As expected, it by turns resembles '80s and '90s cop dramas and the films of Michael Bay, leaving little room for nuance outside of a bit of musing about the drug war and maybe a plotline about a privatized (and very corrupt) police force. Battlefield Hardline aspires to be nothing more or less than a cheesy cop drama, even throwing in "Previously on..." trailers for good measure.

As I've said in my deeper dive into the story, this can be a blessing in disguise. By shying away from realism and more toward the action movies of the '80s, '90s, and early 2000s, it mostly avoids having to address hard questions like police brutality and our growing surveillance society, both of which have become major issues in the past few years. Hardline's Bad Boys 2-like action is also in keeping with Battlefield itself, which has never been what you would call a hardcore military thriller. Battlefield's story, at least, has always had the trappings of a summer blockbuster.

Unfortunately, a Michael Bay-like outlook on storytelling is not the only characteristic Hardline has in common with the core series. Battlefield's campaigns have long been seen as a weak link in the overall experience, suffering as they do from weak stories and sketchy level design, and Hardline is no exception. After a mission or two, Hardline becomes a kind of stealth action game, with "arrests" taking the place of takedowns and backstabs. You can still shoot your way through a level, but the way the damage is balanced makes it very difficult to take on large numbers of enemies at once. As such, you're much better off creeping slowly through Hardline's warehouses, malls, mansions while trying to stay out of the amusingly limited enemy sight cones — a throwback to the days of the original Metal Gear Solid. It's not actually as bad as it sounds, but for various reasons relating to the limited stealth mechanics and the unimaginative level design, it never quite comes off.

As tends to happen in spinoffs and pseudo-sequels like these, Hardline brings a bunch of new ideas to the table — arrest warrants and hidden evidence among them — none of which feel particularly well fleshed out. If you're going into Hardline looking for a really well-realized single-player campaign, I'm afraid to say that you won't find it here. Unfortunately, single-player shooter campaigns seem to have hit a nadir for creativity, with many games either ignoring them entirely (Titanfall) or falling back on the same old tricks (Call of Duty). Hardline should be commended for experimenting a bit; but as I've written elsewhere, making a good police game is hard. Hardline does its best to shake things up, but it's tough to see it as anything more than the gaming equivalent of CBS' Hawaii Five-0 — a story to be watched and then forgotten.

Jaz Rignall Editor-at-Large

I started out impressed by the single-player game. The quality of the audio-visuals and the way the storyline unfolds over the first few levels is really quite entertaining. However, the more I played it, the less I enjoyed the action. Being a shooter fan, I really wanted to be the bad cop and simply blast my way through the game. It's possible to do that, but it seems like the developer really wants you to treat Battlefield Hardline as a stealth game, and apart from some key shootouts, it does seem the easiest way to progress is by arresting people rather than killing everyone outright. And for some reason, I just didn't find this mechanic particularly engaging.

I guess it's a politically correct way of doing things, but it doesn't necessarily make for a great game. In a way, it makes me wonder if the focus being on arresting people rather than blasting your way through the perps is to avoid potential accusations of building a game around controversial cop tactics of shooting first and asking questions later. Whatever the reason, the result is a game whose action feels sporadic and sometimes unengaging. Sneaking up on people is sort of exciting, but nowhere near as thrilling and heart-pumping as a game designed around shootouts - as is clearly evidenced when the game finally gets going in its latter stages, and you do have some action to contend with.

Props definitely have to be given to Visceral Games for trying something new, but I don't think the single-player campaign ultimately works as well as it could.

Where Battlefield Hardline is stronger is in its multiplayer. Here, for the most part it's rock solid and fun. It doesn't always feel as tight as it could be in terms of level design and the cadence of its action, but generally speaking the action is enjoyable. The cops and robbers premise works best on small maps that deliver exciting shootouts where the action is fast and intense. The larger maps are a little hit and miss, and some modes just have too many lulls in the action.

In a way, Battlefield Hardline feels like it's trying to live up to its name in terms of its big-scale combat, and that's prevented it from realizing its full potential as something completely new, focused on what it does best – epic shootouts in tighter, close-quarters locations.

The Nitty Gritty

  • Visuals: Battlefield Hardline looks outstanding, and some of its locations are beautifully rendered with incredible attention to detail
  • Sound: Absolutely terrific. From the voice acting to the sound effects, Battlefield Hardline sounds brilliant - especially in multiplayer mode.
  • Interface: Simple interfaces make the game easy to work around and understand.
  • Lasting appeal: Single-player mode is reasonably entertaining, but multiplayer mode delivers plenty of long-term appeal, assuming the action is to your liking.

The single-player mode starts out promisingly, but bogs down into a rather weak stealth game whose action feels hit-and-miss. Multiplayer is where the game works best, especially on its smaller maps, which can deliver truly thrilling and intense action.

3.5 /5

Battlefield Hardline PS4 Review: Reasonably Arresting USgamer Team Kat and Jaz deliver the verdict on the new-look Battlefield game: this time featuring cops vs. robbers. 2015-03-17T04:02:00-04:00 3.5 5

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Comments 13

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  • Avatar for apoc_reg #1 apoc_reg 3 years ago
    The single player sounds diverting, like the idea of stealth play in a battlefield.

    Will pick it up when it's cheap! Competative multiplayer, while enjoyable, just isn't for a working man so not interested there.

    Also massively put off by the existence of the ridiculous £105 pre-order on PSN, unless you get an actual field to do battle in that is ridiculous!Edited March 2015 by apoc_reg
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  • Avatar for Zebetite #2 Zebetite 3 years ago
    Given recent events in America, I can't help but be disgusted by games like these. Police officers have no right being glorified like this with what's been happening in Ferguson and elsewhere.
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  • Avatar for NoQuarter1973 #3 NoQuarter1973 3 years ago
    @Zebetite Just listen to yourself. Its a game, get a grip.
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  • Avatar for PerfectUgly #4 PerfectUgly 3 years ago
    Does anyone purchase a Battlefield (standard numeric or offshoot) game for single-player?

    Been playing that franchise for quite some time and the long-term appeal is always in multiplayer. BF4, choked on launch or otherwise, offered plenty of return on my investment. Almost entirely multiplayer (I think the only reason I played the campaign mode was to get a few guns).

    This game seems like a shot across the bow of COD, in my opinion, with the small scale skirmish combat. 6v6, that's COD territory. And Frostbite (again, in my opinion) is far better than the engine COD currently supports. Interestingly, the item that's always set it apart for me is the destruction. That's the interesting bit. Not the larger scale 32v32 combat, but the destruction. Snipers aren't safe in buildings because the buildings can be blown apart.

    I traded in a few games for it and ended up paying $30. I can live with $30. The second beta still felt a bit like a skinned game to me, but again, I like Frostbite immensely. I look forward to giving it a go with my buddies tonight.
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  • Avatar for PerfectUgly #5 PerfectUgly 3 years ago
    @Zebetite This is art, I'm afraid. And art should make you feel like that. Art should challenge you. The shame here is not that the game trumpets violence that makes you uncomfortable, it's the fact that you choose not to engage with it because it operates outside your comfort zone.

    This is art. This is not real life.
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  • Avatar for Zebetite #6 Zebetite 3 years ago
    @PerfectUgly Games are not art. Games are commercial products designed to entertain and make money. THIS certainly isn't art by any definition. And sure, games never have anything whatsoever to do with real life... People just raise a fuss over titles like Hatred now and Mortal Kombat in the past for no good reason.
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  • Avatar for Kat.Bailey #7 Kat.Bailey 3 years ago
    @Zebetite ... Here we go...
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #8 brionfoulke91 3 years ago
    @Zebetite Commercial products and art aren't mutually exclusive. Throughout history, they never have been. Is this game bad art? Yeah, I would say that it is. But bad art is still "art," know what I mean?Edited March 2015 by brionfoulke91
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  • Avatar for PerfectUgly #9 PerfectUgly 3 years ago
    @Zebetite Actually, there are legions of developers who would contend with you that their work is not art, from conceptual development on through mass publication — art is, effectively, anything that elicits an emotional response from its audience, good or ill (full disclosure: I've been a professional artist for three decades now).

    So by that definition, you're responding to art, my friend. Even if it's not to your tastes.

    But that's okay, disdain is an emotional response as well. Best of luck peddling that perspective amongst the gaming community.
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  • Avatar for docexe #10 docexe 3 years ago
    @PerfectUgly The way I see it, it’s a two way street. Art can challenge preconceptions and push boundaries, yes. But just because it is meant to elicit emotions doesn’t mean it can be exempt of criticism. That can be aimed at any particular aspect of the work, up to an including any particular moral issue that the observer might find.

    That being said, I personally believe that, regardless of whether or not its content is offensive or morally troubling, any work of art has a right to exist and nobody should censor it or demand its ban. But by the same token, the spectator is perfectly on their rights to not engage with it if they find the content objectionable.
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  • Avatar for docexe #11 docexe 3 years ago
    As to Hardline itself… the militarization of the police is a hot topic in the US, and here in Mexico we also have issues with its corruption and abuse of power. In any case, the premise of the game was going to elicit controversy one way or the other.

    On that matter, while I found the premise of the game troubling, I was willing to give it a chance given I read some interesting things about the single player campaign. But given that it seems to be very bland according to reviews, and that I’m not really fan of multiplayer shooters, I think I will only play it if its ever released on the game collection of PS+.
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  • Avatar for señiorrick85 #12 señiorrick85 3 years ago
    pssshft, I't so easy to be a critic. Game is original, great visuals, sound and content. Yea it becomes a bit formulaic, but I for one am grateful for something different than another COD/MOH.

    All you nay-sayers - why don't you go out there and make something better. This is a great game in it's own right and a nice change of pace for the BF series.Edited May 2015 by señiorrick85
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  • Avatar for PerfectUgly #13 PerfectUgly 3 years ago
    @docexe Well said. I agree wholeheartedly.
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