“Battlefield Hardline” doesn't waste any time. Playing as a police officer, your multiplayer match starts with shrieking alarms. Jump in a squad car, tear down the city streets towards the bank, stop the bad guys, and do it now, now, now. The sense of urgency in “Hardline” is palpable, and even without squad members yelling in your ear, you can feel the weight of each battle. At its root, the multiplayer “Hardline” feels very familiar to other “Battlefield” games: open maps, a variety of vehicles, tons of guns, and all. But the cops-and-robbers dynamic changes the flavor of it all; there's something different about a war scenario versus a heist, even if ultimately your goals (shoot everyone, deliver package) are the same. The press-conference demo for “Hardline” showed an insane amount of stuff to do and ways to play, and that was all in our demo... sort of. To pull off the epic scenarios shown during Monday's press conferences, players will have to work together and communicate well. A group of strangers didn't have the finesse that a clan will likely be able to pull off, but in our demo we did get to witness the basic elements of all that awesomeness. Locked in a firefight under an overpass, the police force had managed to stop the robber's progress, but couldn't push them back. A bullet to the back of the head stopped us from rescuing a wounded officer, but once we respawned back at the base we were able to grab a squad car for a vehicular attack. Another player got the police chopper and came in for an aerial assault – and we turned a corner in our squad car just in time to see the helicopter explode midair from a rocket assault, giving us mere seconds to floor it before the fiery wreckage landed atop us. Barely managing to escape the plummeting wreckage, we careened through our barricade... and straight into the rocket launcher-wielding bank robber. It almost felt like a scripted, cinematic moment, but it was a totally unique and improvised scenario for our match. It's the freedom to play however you want that opens “Battlefield” to these scenarios. Nobody has to get into a chopper, or a cop car. Or hey, we could all get into cars and run over every robber that tries to leave the bank. The point is, it's up to the players. That freedom-focused, teamwork-heavy, ultraviolent world of “Hardline” is an exciting step for EA, one different enough from previous "Battlefield" titles that it could almost be considered a separate game altogether. The freedom and customization could make for some epic battles, and we can't wait to pull off an insane, city-decimating heist when the game releases Oct. 21.