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Battlefield: Hardline

Hands-On With Battlefield Hardline

Dead Space developers Visceral and Battlefield studio DICE are two studios under the same umbrella at Electronic Arts, but there's something more that unites them - a mutual appreciation. About two years ago, Visceral general manager and executive producer Steve Papoutsis and DICE CEO Karl-Magnus Troedsson met and bonded over a love of each others' games. Out of that meeting came a desire to do something together.

First, however, Visceral had to get some seasoning with DICE's Frostbite engine and game design philosophies, so Visceral worked on Battlefield 3's End Game DLC to put in motorcycles and help on the different game modes. Despite this acclimation to the military multiplayer bent of the Battlefield series, the studios' collaboration would be something a little different - a cops and robbers Battlefield title.

With DICE providing feedback, Visceral took the reins on the new project, delivering the concept, art, code, and engineering. Creative director Ian Milham (formerly the art director on the Dead Space franchise) wanted to do something more relatable than the serious, hard-military titles that have rules the roost. "It felt like there was a really opportunity to something that was juicier and more fun," he says.

Our first look at the game featured two multiplayer game modes pitting cops vs. criminals: Heist and Blood Money. In Heist, the criminals must break into an armored location (like two armored cars) and bring the two sets of loot to two different locations. In the map we played, which was basically downtown Los Angeles, one drop-off location was on top of a skyscraper, while the other was on a road by a freeway. In Blood Money, both the cops and the criminals withdraw money from a single cache in the center of the map and bring it back to their vault - which can be raided at any time.

Despite Milham's insistence that he didn't want the game to mirror the high-tech soldier world of most shooters, there is plenty of firepower on both sides. Tazers, flash bangs, shields, zip lines, grappling hooks, boats, armored vehicles, helicopters, and much more are brought to the firefights. Both modes play out frantically, with neither side relishing a clear advantage.

Taking the class-based system from traditional Battlefield games, players choose between the professional, enforcer, mechanic, and operator classes. Each of them brings unique gadgets to the table that accentuates team play. As in traditional Battlefield, you rank up with experience, but in a new twist you can purchase new equipment with your earnings from heists.

Hardline's single-player is being kept under wraps for now, but the game puts equal emphasis on its single- and multiplayer, with the former being a crime/revenge story that Milham is confident will sate those looking a significant experience. "We're Visceral," he says. "We've done a lot of single-player stuff. I think people kind of get that we're going to come up with something there."

Visceral's expertise on single-player campaigns should help shore up what's been widely regarded to be a shortcoming for many previous Battlefield games. Combine that with a new take on DICE's signature multiplayer, and the sum of Hardline's parts could overcome the negativity many may associate with the franchise becoming an annual series just like its chief rival Call of Duty. 

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