A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Battlefield: Hardline is a first-person shooter with strong violence. Players take on the role of a noble police officer attempting to take down major drug dealers while dealing with corrupt colleagues. Players can choose to have him act like a real officer, arresting and nonlethally subduing most of the criminals he encounters and shooting suspects only when he's fired upon. But once he engages in combat, the gun battles are intense. Blood gushes from wounds, splattering the ground, and victims scream in pain. Dialogue is laced with very strong profanity, and nonplayer characters can be seen consuming alcohol and snorting drugs. Note, too, that this game supports online play with open voice communication.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
Players step into the shoes of righteous Miami detective Nick Mendoza in BATTLEFIELD: HARDLINE, an urban, police-themed first-person shooter. Surrounded by corruption and going up against drug dealers who don't hesitate to attack officers, Mendoza and his partner Khai Minh Dao engage in off-the-books ops around Miami in a mix of stealth, tactics, and gun combat. Players use a scanner to evaluate environments, searching for clues and suspects. You have the option to arrest or detain criminals nonviolently, which provides bonus points and quicker leveling progression. But violence is often unavoidable, leading to frenetic gun battles. Online play features large teams of cops and criminals fighting each other in huge urban environments across a broad selection of modes with varying objectives. Hotwire mode is much like a typical Conquest mode, save that players must capture and drive vehicles rather than capturing spawn points. Another called Blood Money has teams rushing toward an open crate of dirty money in the center of a map, trying to collect as much as they can before time runs out.
Is it any good?
Battlefield: Hardline's campaign presents a gorgeous, lushly detailed world and a twisty story filled with interesting characters on both sides of the law. It also introduces some relatively novel concepts in the world of first-person shooters, such as the ability to subdue rather than kill enemies. However, it also suffers from uneven pacing -- you'll encounter lengthy swathes of play without any real action at all -- and clunky level design that abruptly shifts between open-world play and extremely linear chases without quite managing to really excel in either type of play. It's spectacular in some sections but ultimately forgettable.
Multiplayer, however, is where most players will spend the bulk of their time and makes for a much more compelling experience. Despite some obvious deviations from previous Battlefield games (the urban setting means a different selection of weapons and vehicles compared to the series' war-themed editions), the overall vibe and tactics are surprisingly familiar. There's the same massive scale of maps and players, the same unpredictability from pitting vehicles such as helicopters and armored cars against characters running around on foot, the same sense of chaos that's embraced or tempered by disciplined squads of friends playing as a strategic group. A couple of new, more intimate modes with fewer players and smaller maps provide a nice change of pace for those who want it, but for the most part, the multiplayer is simply Battlefield with cops and criminals instead of soldiers. That'll likely suit most fans just fine.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. Did you find the inclusion of nonlethal weapons to be more satisfying or realistic than other games in which player characters simply shoot all their enemies?
Families also can discuss online safety. What do you do when you encounter abusive players? Mute them? Block them? Report them? Try to find another session?
- Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Electronic Arts
- Release date: March 17, 2015
- Genre: First Person Shooter
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Use of Drugs