April 8, 2015
Alright boys and girls, brush off the Doritos dust off and prepare yourself for another scolding of probably one of your new favorite games. Make note that I write this with a little bit of pain in my heart because I had some expectations going into this game and maybe that's what makes writing this a little difficult, but I'll grit my teeth and bare it and slug my way through this.
It's real easy to say a game is shit. That being said, this game is shit. It's almost insulting, I love BF (Battlefield) but this game isn't BF. It's almost fucked up that it's part of that series. As my good friend QuantumCharge puts it "They (Visceral) should have just made this game and called it just Hardline instead of Battlefield". By itself, this game probably could have made some headway in terms of the old "cops and robbers" trope, but they had to go and throw this into the Battlefield universe and it's an awkward fit. It has nothing to do with the military like every other BF game. The only thing that really is BF about this game is that they use similar engines to drive their game. I suppose they couldn't use their system to build their game on and then not throw the Battlefield name on it. EA wouldn't have that.
Let's kick things off with going over the campaign, or what we should refer to as "the part I skipped". I tried playing the campaign, and it was completely boring. I didn't get passed the second episode because I was already done with how uninteresting the characters where, the maps were awkward, the camera angles available in the car ride were strange and everything about the single-player experience struck me as: "why would they do it this way". The weird little evidence finder is ridiculous. I get it, making things you want your players to find easily by making them glow is old news but using a device that "vibrates" when it's near evidence is a weirder idea. What? by what context is this fucking device able to detect evidence easier than the Cop character that I'm controlling, but okay.
There is so much fucking waiting, why, isn't this an action game? You mean I get to cap a few people and then the we skip to me not killing people again? What is the point of this game? The interactions between the characters was strangely inorganic, it felt really artificial, and forced. How I hungered for the dialogue and attitudes of Pac and Irish (your main homies in Battlefield 4). Those characters felt like real people, I cared about those two characters, I couldn't be paid to give a fuck about any of these characters in Hardline. What's the deal with the laid back drug dealer guy? You seriously expect me to believe a person like that actually exists? yeah okay, try a little harder Visceral, I'm done. This fucking game switches settings so many times I had a hard time keeping them in context as to why it was even important to be where I was at any given moment. It was clumsy and I hated it.
Battlefield 4's campaign was the first First Person Shooter campaign I ever finished in one sitting because of how masterful and FUN it was, there isn't a part I would cut out and there wasn't a mission I didn't enjoy. There was never an instant where I went "oh, well this is bullshit. Why do I have to do this?", perhaps fundamentally these games are completely different (they're not), but goddamn, way to fuck things up while trying to change the formula.
This game is mentally taxing in that the "game feel" is so off that every animation, interaction, and sound is off. My brain is constantly having to over compensate to try and comprehend what is happening in this virtual space. I understand you're given a certain amount of creative license when building a game but making your game not behave abnormally is jarring. Every awkward step is a shunt in my mental well-being. After a while it's enough to give me a headache. I don't find myself saying to myself, "well I'm glad I spent 3 hours playing this game". In most cases I just want to do something that isn't going to take so much of my brain's processing power to believe. I want to play something that isn't going to make me go "what the fuck" so many times. I'm getting exhausted just remembering it and writing this. Let me close my eyes for a second here.
In terms of the visuals this game is unimpressive unfortunately. I know what my PS4 is capable of, and even that isn't saying much because I honestly haven't seen all it can do yet, but I know for a fact that it can do way more than this game is trying to slather all over my TV. Maybe I'm spoiled from playing Battlefield 4 on my PC, but this game's textures could really use an overhaul, this includes the character models, color scheme, lighting and just about everything else. It's really not that immersive, when everything feels really fake. I remember in the middle of a match, stopping and staring at the wall, the fucking wall in Battlefield 4 because I couldn't handle how perfect the texture was and how it reflected and diffused light. There are times when I was taken aback by the storms rushing in and causing mayhem, the levelution that was occurring would completely change the way battles progressed and could potentially change the tide of battle as one side completely lost or gained it's tactical advantage.
In Hardline there is hardly a time when the levelution isn't occurring (activating it is way easier than it should be) it's like: oh the crane is falling again, I'm surprised someone hadn't did that since the beginning yet. It's never substantial enough to have impact and doesn't really fuck with anything. The buildings don't fall apart the beautiful way they do in Battlefield 4. Yeah okay, you can knock out a few walls, but a lot of the map stays intact for the most part. If you really wanted, you are free to camp in a room because chances are there won't be anything that would merit you ever having to leave that spot. Sure people could get the hint that you're hiding there and go kill you but you can just waltz back there and hold that position again until they give up trying to kill you. It's like Visceral got a serious hard-on for their maps and they don't like anyone fucking with them. All the destruction is scripted, boring and repetitive. You've seen it once, you've seen it a thousand times.
The collision detection, holy fuck. I am completely taken aback by how stinking awful the collision detection is in this game. Never in my life have I missed so many melee kills, bullet's not registering, or the extremely awkward vehicle shenanigans that occur. The way vehicles interact with themselves, their environment or the players is seriously one of largest pet peeves in this game. The tanks, helicopters and jets are flawless in Battlefield 4, every fucking car, truck or bike in this game makes me weep with how ridiculous bad they are at performing their designed task. Their sound design is just as puzzling as their their fucked up physics and the way they're animated (or complete lack thereof). I'm often driving through the swamps and the car sounds like it's driving on rough terrain and yet drives like it's gliding over butter, it makes my head implode.
The best part has to be the wonderful friendly-explosions-exploit you can use in this game but it's so completely overpowered in this game that it's comedic.
This game breaks my fucking heart. [Optional Reading]
I've always been a fan of the Battlefield series, I can't say I played the early Battlefield games but I got swept right into the hype when Battlefield 2 came around and I was hooked. Ever since I've kind of been a huge fan of Battlefield, and even though my hours played will never really rival that of my Call of Duty hours. I want to put the blame entirely on the atmosphere surrounding my collegiate career. Everyone played Call of Duty, almost everyone on my floor. If you weren't playing Call of Duty, you were playing Halo and that was pretty much it. The only real exception being perhaps Guitar Hero and Rock Band. It didn't seem like a lot of Battlefield games came out and made a huge impression during that time and maybe that's why I bring it up. To be honest there is some serious time and consideration put into these games and they're not some cookie cutter, "here is the new one this year" type game you get with Call of Duty. I think that's why their past games have really slipped by me with no real attention being directed towards them, Ghosts was a joke, Advanced Warfare is for kids. Maybe I'm just old. I want the fun that I had back when Modern Warfare 3 came out and there really isn't an experience that was that competitive and fun and fast paced.
After college is when I got really into Battlefield. This is when I had finally ascended into the PC Master Race and really need a game to play and it was mentioned that I should really look into Battlefield again, and so I did. Just like with Battlefield 2, I had found my passion in militaristic combat again. This game also taught me a lot, for one, I was a filthy goddamn casual. None of the countless hours I had poured into console gaming was going to help me here. The control layout was completely new and I had to learn how to play this game and do it fast. The only thing that really helped me was my past experience with the Battlefield universe through the previous titles being owned for my Xbox 360. That being said, my Kill/Death Ratio really suffered. I'm not even sure if it has really recovered to this date to be honest. I will say that after a while now that I can really hold my own in some matches and that makes me really happy. It really does, it's the type of joy I expect out of a game and I never really get that with Hardline, it's a long haul and then there is no real reward. Even the ending sequence is lack luster. Maybe it's because I'm never ever close to the MVP slots, but that isn't just it. Every kill doesn't bring excitement, the guns themselves don't really feel fun or realistic. Nothing about this game really me go "wow, that was fucking cool". The couch was probably one of the few things that really kind of made me laugh or thought was cool, but they nerfed it. I'll probably never ride it again. Thanks Visceral you fucking assholes.
I'm starting to get really annoyed with how game developers just go in and fuck with everything after they push a game out, yeah I understanding balancing and whatever, but it's just sickening when I'm constantly hearing "well this isn't the experience we had in mind for our consumers players." It's bullshit, you see everyone doing something in the game because we enjoy it and more often than not it's taken away from us. Why? why would you fucking put something in the game and just go, uh we don't like that, pull the plug on that shit, no soup for you, sorry to spoil the fun, but the party has to be over at 10. Perhaps you should have tested your game more? Maybe taken a little more time to see how players actually react to your game than instead of imposing your fucking stupid ideals on us. Maybe you should get some real gamers in your tests instead of just picking up some niche kids who will play the game like you want them to. So dumb, you give me a sandbox, let me play in the sand, not tell me how to proper shovel and pail etiquette and then kick sand in my face when I decide to say fuck the shovel and pail and just build with my spit and hands. Okay, that's a really obscure metaphor for doing your own thing in a game, but it more or less gets the point across I would hope. Stop trying to sell me an experience and sell me fun. Own up to your games and the quirky things they do, don't shun us for finding ways for breaking the game or saying "fuck the objective, I really just want to focus on the couch" and punish us for it. That's a dick move, but then again we are talking about EA, I guess it just has to be expected.