I Wish Battlefield Hardline Let Me Be A Cop ALL The Time

My favourite part of the single player stuff in the preview build I recently played of next year's Battlefield Hardline's was being a policeman. My least favourite, the Battlefield bit.

You see, the early police procedural moments here are a glorious change of pace — full of arrests and tiny little shoots outs with handguns in hallways when it all goes awry. They're almost intimate: just you, a few bad guys and the PUP PUP PUP of small arms fire bouncing off the walls (Battlefield's always done excellent gun noises, and with smaller weapons you can really savour those shots).

This? This is excellent.

I Wish Battlefield Hardline Let Me Be a Cop ALL The Time

Later on, though, it's just Battlefield. All the guns you can eat while remembering to go "RRRRWWAAAARRRR!" as you clench the trigger and a building probably explodes behind you. It doesn't matter which one.

I've done that last bit. Loads.

What I haven't done is flash a badge at two drug dealers and nervously approach them to make an arrest, juggling my aim between the pair to prevent either going for their gun.

What I haven't done is accidentally squeeze off a shot off when a third unseen criminal's shout makes me jump. Then watch, almost as if from an out of body experience, as my previously clean drugs bust dissolves into a Tarantino-like montage of everyone shooting everyone else, more out of surprise than actual malice. Something my imaginary police chief will later call "A MONUMENTAL FUCK-UP" as he screams at me across his well-thumped desk.

In this imaginary scene I've also got my arm in a sling as it happens. Just enough to show I was injured but not enough to slow me down when the action starts again. I might also be pulling that 'I can't believe this shit' Bruce Willis face.

I Wish Battlefield Hardline Let Me Be a Cop ALL The Time

Not that one.

This one.

I Wish Battlefield Hardline Let Me Be a Cop ALL The Time

The very fact that I've created a make believe police chief and a set of rules I don't play by in the first few minutes of Hardline probably emphasises just how much potential the cop idea has.

That badge-flashing mechanic is great, for example. After showing your ID to literally 'FREEZE' criminals, you have to keep your gun pointed at them as you approach to slap on the cuffs. If there are multiple perps then it soon becomes a juggling act as you whip your aim nervously between them to empty a slowly filling meter, indicating they're about go for a gun.

The tension this creates is brilliant: perfectly capturing that TV cop image of moving towards the bad guy, step by cautious step, as you snap the barrel on to whoever looks like the most trouble. It's the reason my bust went south. I was so invested in the approach, so wired by the thrill, that the tiniest noise made me flinch and shoot a bad guy. I think the technical term is 'negligent discharge'. (I negligently shot him a couple more times after, just to be safe.)

What I wanted Hardline to do was that, all the time. But, as the action heated up, it's as if the mould used to stamp out the early police action popped back into a more familiar shape. Another mission has you trying to infiltrate an office packed with armed security, which still works along the vein of cops doing unofficial under-the-radar things. However, by the time I was swinging from a helicopter smashing into exploding skyscrapers, after fighting off a heavily armed Spec-Ops team and armed with more guns than most armies see in a lifetime, I'd long ago forgotten that 'FREEZE' was an option. Or that I was meant to be a cop.

According to Visceral Games' Steve Papoutsis you're a police officer throughout, even when undercover as a criminal, so arrests are possible all the time. There's also an as yet undecided police-themed rating system that will score how you deal with enemies — arrests, non-lethal take downs and good old fashioned shootings all rate differently. However, from what I played, it feels like there's a point past which the badge simply becomes a stealth tool to delay inevitable shoot outs, rather than a defining part of the game.

That's not entirely a bad thing: this is Battlefield, so the shooting's good. It just feels like EA grabbed the next instalment's design document in a meeting, scribbled 'make it cops' on the front and announced "Done!" to the room before walking out. There's an initial flavour to the ideas presented that is interesting, but all too soon swamped by the familiar thunder and flash the series is more known for. That said it's difficult to tell how the plot will develop from the preview build I tried. The three levels played went from 'cop' to 'slightly dodgy cop' to 'vault robbing, exploding tower block, army fighting cop'. Not an entirely improbable plot arc for, say, a police movie, so I hope the final game can draw this transition out more gracefully.

I Wish Battlefield Hardline Let Me Be a Cop ALL The Time

If nothing else, though, it's confusing. You've got all the series' recognisable equipment and mechanics, largely lifted wholesale, only without a war or army to explain it all. Throwing down medical packs, for example, or sliding down ziplines fired from crossbows, or opening up identical chunky weapon crates packed with huge guns that are inexplicably scattered about levels. Obviously 'healing' and 'more guns' are things you need in a shooter, but by presenting them in their pure, unadulterated Battlefield format, it makes it hard to work out if this is a spin off or sequel, as neither seems a suitable description. (There's also a new enemy distraction mechanic where you can throw a coin to make a noise, and it's very specifically explained that only one bad guy will go to investigate at a time, which is just weird.)

Visceral Games' Steve Papoutsis told me that the single player was "an opportunity for us try something different", but currently I'm not convinced it's different enough. Especially as he pins the ' Battlefield' title justification more on to the multiplayer, saying, "in terms of the name on the box? It's the destruction, it's the strategy, the team play, the 'holy shit I can't believe you did that' stuff people made videos of — that's why it's Battlefield on the box". That I have no problem with. I enjoyed the beta — it was plot-free, and the tenuous cop element was easily forgotten as superfluous set dressing in the online carnage. However, I'm not convinced the single player side of things will get a free pass.

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This post originally appeared on Kotaku UK, bringing you original reporting, game culture and humour with a U from the British isles.


    The problem is it doesn't really go anywhere. You bust a drug deal. It goes bad, you do some shooting and it's done. It doesn't escalate to game levels.
    Die Hard has what is it, 12 bad guys? Stretching it out with chase scenes and making them invincible for large portions you would still struggle to make a 3 hour game. It might be a fun 3 hours but 3 hour campaigns are more the realm of the indie game than a AAA franchise.

      I definitely agree with you there, but I know which experience would be likely to get my dosh. I think a combination of Battlefield's sound effects and solid gunplay, the 'police procedural' aspect mentioned in this artice, a bit of SWAT for some measure when things go bad or require a bit of force, and maybe some detective work borrowed for games like the Arkham series and AC Unity, and you'd likely have my game of the year.

    That bruce willis face is what I pull everytime there's a data hogging GIF placed in the middle of one of these articles... Seriously it took me 3 mins to get to the bottom just becuae that damn GIF (that wasn't really of concern to me), finished loading...

    If only Precinct went past the kickstarter campaign

    Being a cop in real life isn't as fun as it is in movies and games. Well probably more so here in Australia. Too much politics and back stabbing c*nts that have drained the life out of the job. In fact, it all started with the Fitzgerald inquiry, which again punished and changed the whole system, because of a few corrupt leaders. No the system is even more flawed now, and everyone is scared to do their job. The corruption isn't in the form of brown envelopes any more, it's about bullying, and promoting you mates to positions that shouldn't exist. /rant.

      From what you just said it sounds exactly like a friend of mine whos a policewoman. She has a friend that has wanted a transfer to somewhere closer to home for the last few years and they transferred the douch (know them both personally) instead.

      Why would anyone want crap money for a dangerous job that most people hate by default?

      Oh the uneducated.

      And seriously mate the 'corruption' you've just described is just like any workplace. It's called life.

        Actually Ferret, I'm not uneducated at all (nor am I a noble prize winner) and policing is something that I previously saw as a noble profession. Not everyone on this planet has the desire to earn copious about of money. We all have our own incentives and motivations, and I actually joined the job because I wanted to help people - but helping people doesn't make the bosses look good, so it's almost frowned upon.

        I have quite a few family members within the service, so you've successfully insulted them as well, congrats. It's not simply a job that everyone can do, and I was actually quite good at my job. For the most part, people join the service because it's ingrained in them, it feels like something they are meant to do.

        You may be correct in your assumption of how corruption works within many industries, including the service - I never said I was alone. If anything, I have a far greater perspective on what "real" life is - one that I would greatly suggest is more superior to yours - given that I have actually witnessed what a lot of people and what this world is really like. The things that I have witnessed and investigated (while under added pressure of bullying), makes for a more unique, a more compounding issue - an issue that I would also suggest, is a little more serious then you're regular "it's called life" remark.

        I've jumped into the Brisbane River at 1am to try and save a 22 year old male, who (in an act of drunken stupidity) jumped off a bridge while trying to show off to his friends. Although, some may believe his actions should not warrant any sympathy, I am not of this opinion. Stupid he may be, he was only young and he did not deserve to have his life ended. So, while navigating the murky water under the bridge, with no visibility, and known location of Bull sharks, I persevered - to no avail. I didn't get to save a life that day, in fact I was somewhat let down by poor organisation of Senior officers at the scene. The young person's body was located a few hours later, by school children (rowing on the river) 100 meters away from where I was swimming/searching.

        I tell you this story because I was due for a commendation, something that rarely happens in my line of work - to be commended by anyone, including your 'peers', is a great privilege. The Senior office, my officer in charge, squashed this commendation and it all just disappeared in a cover-up. Now, I didn't need to have my actions noticed, that's not why I did my job - but in squashing that report, that disgusting human being, inadvertently made the statement that that young man's life was worth that little bit less.

        Why did he do this? He didn't like me, and from 2009 to 2012 he saw it fit to ruin my career, and in turn my life. Which he was successful at, and not alone in doing so. You see, once waves are caused, the system will protect the higher ranked officer - even if previously they had attempted to move him from his position, because he was unfit to manage people.

        I haven't seen countless doctor; take daily medication and regularly see a psychiatrist because that's my thing - bullying as put me here. I could assume that you know nothing about the subjects of either real bullying, real life, or the real happenings within the service, but I don't know you and I don't know what you've seen - so I won't pass judgement on you, like you have on me.

        There is far more involved in this tale then what I've divulged here, and I've already talked too much as it is. I hate talking about this shit, especially on a public forum to an audience of people that probably wont understand. I'm left with nothing, emptiness and a lost sense of direction, as the one thing I believe I was meant to do in this world, was taken away from me.

          I have a close friend who is a cop in Brisbane and everything you've said resonates with what he has told me. It really is a thankless task. I only hope that in time you can find your way through the impact that the job (well, the bosses really) has had on you. Thanks for sharing your story, and thank you for your service.

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