For a series that generally deals with more weaponry than the actual Armed Forces, EA’s Battlefield Hardline is a decidedly more pacifistic take on the notion of “taking out the bad guys”. The single-player campaign follows Nick Mendoza, a young cop from Los Angeles who’s trying to track down someone from his past; each mission is structured like an episode of a TV drama, with recurring characters and cliffhanger endings.
The game was developed by Dead Space creator Visceral Games, and offers a deeper experience than any Battlefield game to date. Sophisticated stealth mechanics allow you to use stealth takedowns and throw coins to distract enemies, for instance – and a Far Cry-style scanner gadget can be used to tag enemies and alarms. You can even listen in on conversations between enemies. Said enemies have alertness meters that gradually fill up if you walk into their line-of-sight, giving you an opportunity to sneak back behind cover if you’re spotted. You can choose to arrest or neutralize high-value targets, with different rewards based on your actions, and a Taser-like device enables you to take down enemies without killing them.
Perhaps most intriguingly, Hardline also integrates a “Freeze” mechanic that allows Mendoza to flash his police badge, disarm, and then handcuff enemies in order to avoid violent confrontation entirely. Essentially, you press a button to show your badge and yell “Freeze!”– which causes the enemy in your line-of-sight to drop their weapon so you can cuff them. As in real police work, however, it’s not quite that simple: When you come across groups of enemies, you’ll need to keep your gun moving between each perp as you approach. Let one out of your sights for too long, and you give them a chance to grab their weapon off the ground and start firing shots at you.
Fortunately, there are perks to this approach: Performing all these nonlethal, cop-like actions earns you “expert points” that unlock more equipment throughout the campaign. This means more fun guns with which to intimidate your ruthless enemies.
Battlefield Hardline is available now for Xbox One and Xbox 360.