As a clean cut rookie detective, Nick Mendoza wages war against gangsters, hoodrats and street scum, but when an act of villainy forces a dramatic lifestyle reevaluation, he swaps his shiny badge for the grimy side. And probably grows a beard. Dead Space developer Visceral Games is adept at creating hostile spaces, but Miami might just be its most alien yet. Hotline represents a new direction for the Battlefield series, a step away from the ultra gritty modern warfare of late.

In the first of two stages we play, rap music and drug smoke pipes from shaded porches and muffled sirens echo down lonely streets. It’s a place of keenly observed details. As Nick and partner Khai Minh Dao drive the beat, an unwelcome hobo ambles up to clean their windshield then shouts obscenities as they speed off without paying.


Bad boys
The level soon develops into what Hardline’s executive producer Steve Papoutsis calls “fortress sections”, this one set in a gang occupied school. “We put a lot of effort into features that really tie into more of the cop fantasy: the badge, the freeze mechanic, allowing for non-lethal takedowns, handcuffing guys, getting warrants, using the taser, things like that. So we just decided really early on that we should have different strategies that people could deploy, and that led to the idea of having
more open encounters.” After a few minutes the entire school are laying on their bellies, thoroughly embarrassed.
“NICK DONS SCUBA GEAR AND FLOODS A LIFT SHAFT TO SWIM TO THE ROOFTOP SUITE”
For the next mission we’re at the base of a penthouse. The objective: infiltrate and
dig up dirt on its playboy owner. Nick’s gone a bit off the rails here, as demonstrated by what he does next. After stealthing through the lobby and riding the elevator, he and Dao decide to don scuba gear and flood the lift shaft in order to swim to the rooftop suite. It’s hardly police etiquette, but it works. Now it’s a case of holding out against waves of bad guys as fireworks illuminate the room. After they’re dead we zip-line to victory.

 Let’s not forget multiplayer in addition to the ten-act story. Visceral learned a lot from June’s beta, incorporating different weapons for cops and criminals to produce more asymmetrical combat, hand brakes on cars, and less lag.

In Hardline, Battlefield takes the fight away from war zones and swaps SMAWs for nightsticks and tasers, but does so without compromising the series’ trademark energy and urgency. This time it feels smarter and funnier. It lets you live the cop fantasy and go beyond it