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Battlefield Hardline: Bay Meets Mann
Company: EA Games

While I love Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4 for what they are, I have an incredibly soft spot for what I believe is DICE’s absolute best overall package: Battlefield: Bad Company 2. It was different. It had an excellent campaign and a destruction engine that (my opinion, of course) actually shamed that of its successors. Well, DICE and Visceral Games (yes, the Dead Space guys!) have joined forces to bring us something even more different. Battlefield Hardline welcomes you to the war on crime. And man, is it a war.

If you’ve ever wondered what Battlefield would be like if the developers decided to ditch the whole global conflict and just do a big, bombastic cops and robbers game, well, here it is. You’ve got all the tools Battlefield is famous for: class abilities, awesome weapons, useful gadgets, and vehicles, vehicles, vehicles. But they’ve taken the military edge off of them and prepped them for the kind of street warfare that everyone dreads in real life (but loves in the virtual world). So here you have violent thieves pulling off scores while the cops try to mitigate the losses by putting them down. After having spent some time with the game, I can confidently say that this new theme is the Nutella to Battlefield’s peanut butter.

The first game mode offered in the beta is Heist. In this Capture-the-Flag variant, the criminals are tasked with retrieving one of two briefcases full of cash and bringing it to an extraction point. The cops’ job is to prevent that cash from being stolen – at all costs.

The second mode is Blood Money. The object is to end up with the most cash. At the beginning of each match, there are caches scattered around the map, but as each team begins to fill their respective vaults, they must also defend them, lest they be plundered by the opposing team. It’s tug-of-war, but with guns!

For a series that is as rife with the potential for emergent, spontaneous carnage, this new installment still manages to surprise me. Watching a thief grab the suitcase, hop on a crotch rocket, and immediately erupt in an explosion of flame and mangled steel is hysterical. And those pesky snipers; watching one of them get pancaked by a cruiser is a joy that is unmatched outside of this series. Add to that gadgets in line with the heist motif (grappling hooks, ziplines), and you’ve got a power fantasy in the making.

Battlefield Hardline might be the shooter to get this holiday season, and when it’s in such company as Destiny and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, that’s really saying something.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos
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