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Arma 3 Marksmen DLC

Bohemia Interactive today announced the official release date for the upcoming Arma 3 downloadable content pack, Arma 3 Marksmen. Flexing its guns on April 8th, the Marksmen DLC looks to build upon Arma 3‘s infantry experience by adding new premium weapons, attachments, and gear. Alongside the new DLC, Bohemia Interactive will also release a major platform update, which implements a new multiplayer mode, training courses and showcase scenario, plus several much-anticipated platform features related to weapon handling (#bipods) and sound.

Serving as the backbone of the Marksmen DLC are the seven new weapons. Among these are five marksman rifles, namely the Cyrus 9.3 mm, MAR-10 .338, Mk-I EMR 7.62 mm, Mk14 7.62 mm, and ASP-1 Kir. The other two weapons are the SPMG .338 and Navid 9.3 mmmedium machine guns. The weapons will be complemented by the AMS and Kahlia medium range scopes. There will also be new ghillie suits for the NATO, CSAT, and AAF factions to provide camouflage for various terrain types. Furthermore, the Marksmen DLC will add two Remote Designators, which can be used to spot and laser designate targets from afar. Those who want to hone their shooting skills can pay a visit to the shooting range for brand new firing drills, or go on a reconnaissance mission in the Marksmenshowcase scenario.

Overall, the Marksmen DLC aims to redefine what it means to fire a weapon in Arma 3. This idea will be reinforced by a major upcoming platform update, that will be released alongside the Marksmen DLC, and will be free to everyone who owns Arma 3. Besides new playable content and major upgrades to weapon handling, this update will include suppressor and bipod weapon attachments, as well as nine new types of face paint, and three new heavy and grenadier vests designed specifically for improved explosive shielding and ballistic protection.

In terms of playable content, the aforementioned platform update will deliver a brand new multiplayer mode called End Game. Here, two teams compete to locate and secure valuable schematics. On top of this new multiplayer mode, the update will also include the Firing From Vehicles showcase scenario, as well as new VR training courses, objects for content creators, and a brand new set of Steam achievements.

With regards to platform features, the upcoming Arma 3 update will introduce weapon resting and weapon deployment – which have been on the list of most requested features by the Arma 3 community. Weapon resting means that players will benefit from an accuracy bonus whenever they are near a stable surface, while weapon deployment will enable players to use bipods for a more steady shot. Together with improvements made to the simulation of recoil, and improvements to enemy AI suppression, this should provide a more tactical, intuitive, and rich experience to the players of Arma 3. Finally, the new platform update will make significant upgrades to sound by adding more sound samples and new sound technology. These improvements should enhance the immersion and contribute to gameplay by providing players with a better situational awareness.

To round out the Marksmen DLC package and the supporting platform update, Bohemia Interactive will be expanding Arma 3’s existing Virtual Arsenal feature with Virtual Garage. This means players will not only be able to preview soldiers, weapons, and gear, and create custom loadouts for their characters, but also examine and customize the extensive collection of vehicles in Arma 3. In addition, the new update will open up Virtual Arsenal so that people will be able to try out all of Arma 3’s premium weapons, vehicles, and other DLC content, without restrictions – even if they do not own the DLC. A more in-depth explanation of Bohemia Interactive’s approach to DLC for Arma 3, and how it prevents a split in the game’s multiplayer community between those who own DLC and those who do not, can be found in the studio’s previously released blog.

The Arma 3 Marksmen DLC will be available from April 8th for 12.99 EUR/10.99 GBP/15.99 USD on Steam and Store.bistudio.com. People can already purchase the Arma 3 DLC Bundle, which includes the Arma 3 Karts, Arma 3 Helicopters, and the upcoming Marksmen DLC, for 19.99 EUR/16.99 GBP/24.99 USD – saving them more than 25% over buying the DLC packs separately.

To enlist for regular Arma 3 service, people can purchase the standard edition of Arma 3 (44.99 EUR/39.99 GBP/59.99 USD) and the Arma 3 Digital Deluxe Edition (49.99 EUR/42.99 GBP/64.99 USD) from Steam and Store.bistudio.com. A boxed version of Arma 3 is sold at many of the major high-street retailers.

GTA V PC

Rockstar talk 4K, PC performance and more

It’s taken years, but Grand Theft Auto 5 is almost out on PC. How have Rockstar gone about developing the ultimate version of the game? What can we look forward to from the video editor? Is the game locked at 60fps? We sent Rockstar a few questions to find out. Unless otherwise credited, our queries were answered by a group of Rockstar North developers, including. director of technology Phil Hooker, director of engineering Klaas Schilstra and technical director Adam Fowler.

PC Gamer: Can you talk about the team Rockstar has working on the PC version? How long have they been at Rockstar, what have they worked on before?

The team working on the PC version of the game was a large percentage of the original Grand Theft Auto team augmented by members of the Rockstar studios that specialise in PC development. These were the developers who had worked on the PC versions of GTA 4, Max Payne 3 and LA Noire. Many of them are Rockstar veterans.

Since the latest round of consoles have an architecture similar to PC, this is also the same team that worked on the PS4 and Xbox One builds of the game. Essentially, we pulled the right people from all the Rockstar studios to create a global development team with the deepest base of knowledge of both GTA and PC development. It really was a team effort to deliver something of the highest quality as possible in every area from visuals, audio to tuning gameplay feeling and features.

PC Gamer: When was the decision made to bring GTA 5 to PC and when did work start?To what extent were you thinking about PC during the development of the 360/PS3 versions? Was the game created to be cross-platform from the start?

We were always going to bring GTA 5 to PC. We planned from day 1 for a PC build and we made technical decisions based off the fact that we would be doing a PC version of the game. While we started development of the PC version quite early, we decided to focus the bulk of our attention on the PS3 and XB360 versions first in order to push that as far as we possibly could before turning our attention to the PS4 and Xbox One versions, and then using the shared architecture underpinning the new consoles to help ourselves ramp up into the PC version and push the game as far as we possibly could knowing we would have the opportunity to make the game look and feel better than it ever has.

PC Gamer: How did the process of bringing GTA 5 to PC compare to previous Rockstar games on PC, like GTA 4, LA Noire and Max Payne 3? Was there anything different this time around?

Kevin Hoare—president of Rockstar Toronto: The process of bringing GTA 5 to PC was most similar to our last PC title, Max Payne 3. Our process of bringing titles to PC has evolved over the years. We knew that we would eventually create a PC version so early development was done in parallel with the console versions. In fact, some of the early preparations we made for PC, like 64 bit & DX11 support, paid off very handsomely when the PS4 and Xbox One architectures were announced. That early work made the process of transitioning to the new consoles a lot easier and allowed us to hit the ground running. The artists also prepared for PC by authoring their source art at PC-ready resolutions, even though we had to use massively reduced versions for the PS3 and XB360.

It is still amazing to think how we took a last-gen game that, at the time, was something we were extremely happy with in terms of looks and performance, saw new console versions of that world and were blown away at all the added detail we could show, and now we get to see that same game scale to 4kat 60fps, which is just beyond anything we have experienced as developers. We have aimed to retain that ability to scale the performance for the PC game so players with different hardware platforms can benefit from that as well.

PC Gamer: The minimum and recommended specs for recent AAA PC-titles for many modern games are much more demanding, yet the specs for GTA 5 are quite low in comparison. Which resolution and frame rate are the recommended specs based on? Are the recommended specs for playing it in 1080p / 60 fps? Which specs do you need to play it in 4k resolution and 30/60 fps, and what is the optimal way to run the game?

Kevin Hoare: One of the lessons we have learned over the years through Grand Theft Auto IV and Max Payne 3 on PC was that people want the freedom to configure their system to suit their preferences. So our focus for Grand Theft Auto 5 was to ensure most people could run the game comfortably, and provide a wide range of options to tailor your experience to your system.

We based our recommended spec on hardware that we knew could comfortably achieve 1080P resolution at 60fps.

To run the game on a 4K display at 30fps, you’ll need at minimum an AMD HD 7870 or NVidia GTX 760 with 2GB of VRAM.

To be able to run the game at 4K resolution at 60fps you’ll need a high-end SLI or Crossfire setup.

The optimal way to run the game will depend on an individual’s preference. Some people may want to dial the settings down to hit a really high framerate, while others may appreciate a slower framerate with the graphical settings dialed way up. Overall, with so many variables in various CPU/GPU configurations and depending on game settings, frame rates will vary widely.

PC Gamer: Do you think getting to experience that environment in 60fps makes a difference to the way the game feels?

Absolutely, as developers we’re always trying to balance between high framerate and the quality of features and visuals we can pack into the game. PC has allowed us to deliver both so you can feel and see the game in a different light. It really allows you to appreciate the subtleties and detail that’s already there in all features form vehicle handling, to impacts, to explosions, weapon handling etc… everything.

PC Gamer: Is the frame rate locked at 60 fps?

The target framerate for the PC build of the game is 60fps, when you start up GTA 5 for the first time it chooses settings to maximise the framerate and visual quality on your PC. These are simply recommendations though, and players can change these to whatever they want. We will never be able to guarantee the framerate when someone decides to push their texture, shader or post-fx quality to a level that their PC can’t support. That said, if your monitor and PC support it you can choose to run at even higher framerates.

PC Gamer: GTA 5 supports 4K resolution on PC – how much of a big deal do you think 4K will be for players? Do you think it’ll transform the way they experience that world?

4k is an eye opener when you see if for the first time, it really does make you look at the world differently and in greater detail as you would expect. That said, you could probably say the same thing about a lot of the other high-end graphical options and ultimately it will be personal preference which particular resolution and graphical settings that each player decides to settle on.

PC Gamer: Can you talk about the range of PC-specific visual options in GTA 5? In the PS3 and Xbox 360 editions I was blown away by the environmental detail and water effects – how far can players push those options on high-end PCs?

Kevin Hoare: We opened up a lot of options, offering a broad range of settings that allow us to support more basic PC’s as well as being able to push the visual limits on the latest high-end, multi-GPU setups. There are incredible range of visual parameters for players to play with. Not only can you manipulate settings like textures, shaders and water quality, but we will give you the option to manipulate the quality of grass and particles, tessellation, reflections and Post FX, to name a few. We will also have a population density slider, allowing you to configure how busy the streets and sidewalks are and how busy the city can be around the player.

These settings not only allow the player to adjust graphical options but also some gameplay-oriented options as well. We obviously support high resolution displays and high resolution shadow and reflections maps, as well as many of the common graphical settings. This would include things such as AA filter type and level, level of anisotropic filtering, SSAO options and so on. Some of the graphical enhancements available exclusively to PC include contact hardening shadows, enhanced light ray volumes, particle system shadows, etc. We expose separate render quality settings for the various game components such as shadows, reflections, grass, water, tessellation level, post-fx etc., which have all been enhanced for PC. We’ve increased the variety and population density of vehicles and pedestrians and allow the LOD draw distances to be increased. All of these enhancements bring the quality of the visuals to an entirely new level and give the player very fine grained control of all the settings.

PC Gamer: Can you talk about the development of the Rockstar Video Editor for GTA 5? What are the differences between the version for GTA 4 and this one?

John Macpherson – lead gameplay designer, Rockstar Toronto: The Rockstar Video editor in GTA 5 features a number of significant improvements. This starts at the recording level, where players now have the option to start and stop their captures at will. We have also added a brand new feature known as “Director Mode”. This gives users the ability to play and record using any actor from GTA 5 such as story and heist crew characters, members of the ambient population and even animals. Wherever applicable, those characters can then speak and perform contextual actions at will. This radically increases the possibilities for creativity.

Certain world settings such as the time of day and weather can also be adjusted. In addition to this, a host of cheats are available in Director Mode to further enhance cinematic efforts.

On the editing side of things, GTA 5 now allows players to add and trim multiple radio tracks to a single video. Scored music is also available as are numerous in-game commercial recordings. A new suite of custom filters have been added along with custom post effects tuning. Players can add and customize depth of field effects in their videos now as well. For camera edits, additional targeting and blend options have been added for greater control over shots. Final edits can now be shared directly to YouTube and entered into upcoming Social Club contests.

For more, read our hands-on preview with GTA 5 running at 4k and 60fps. In addition, here’s everything you need to know about GTA 5, and why not check out the latest batch of sweet GTA 5 PC screenshots.

Battlefield Hardline

A reader gives a very mixed review of the Battlefield Hardline beta, and wonders whether the cops ‘n’ robbers theme really makes sense.

This week a little slice of E3 has come to our green and pleasant land, in the form of the beta test for Battlefield Hardline. I was one of the fortunate few who not only owned a PlayStation 4 but was lucky enough to be invited to the beta, so I thought I would share my opinions with the GC community.

Upon loading up the game for the first time, I was immediately struck by the graphics. There is an obvious downgrade here, and whether this is due to the game being in a relatively early stage or whether it was necessary for the smoother running of the game (more on that later) remains to be seen. While the textures do appear to be relatively low resolution, the models appear to be quite nice, though again, not quite as nice as its predecessor.

One place where the graphics truly do shine however is the colour scheme. Gone are the greens and browns that the serious military series is known for, and instead we find a much softer, almost pastel palette. This, whether intentionally or not, gives the game a much less serious feel. It almost feels cartoony. This is a nice touch, as often the bombastic gameplay style of Battlefield jars uncomfortably with the civilian setting.

Without getting into the political side of things too heavily, the cops and robbers approach does seem a bit odd. There is, in fact, very little that suggests you are a policeman or a criminal, other than the fact that you are told you are. Police have no regard for saving lives, mowing criminals down just as a battle-trained soldier would. The fact that, as a police officer, you have access to incredibly potent military equipment like RPGs and grenade launchers also seems at odds with the police setting.

The sense of pulling off a well-planned heist is also absent as a criminal, feeling rather more like a prolonged firefight with little direction. But it is Battlefield, after all, and surely its the gameplay that counts the most, right? Sadly, Hardline is a bit of a mixed bag in this respect.

At the beginning of each round players are divided into two teams, with the criminals tasked with various nefarious activities and the police tasked to stop them. Again, the two sides are indistinguishable from each other apart from the uniform, again breaking immersion. In heist mode, criminals are tasked with stealing money and successfully escaping the scene. This game mode plays similarly to Rush mode, with the police team always on the defensive. It’s not a revolutionary new game mode by far. In fact it often leads to one team camping the objective so effectively that the other has no chance of success.

The other mode, Blood Money, tasks both teams with stealing from a cache of cash. It plays a little like capture the flag, but with multiple flags on the go at once. It is hectic, and a lot of fun. Adding to the drama is the fact that as both a criminal and a cop the opposing team can sneak into your base and rob you blind. It leaves the sandbox open for many memorable moments and daring escapades, and is heavily action-oriented.

Its a good thing, then, that the game runs so well. The fast-paced action, much more so than previous entries into the series, is a beautiful thing to behold. The guns feel much more potent, and appear to have a lot more recoil, resulting in huge firefights with hundreds of rounds fired. It truly is a sight to behold. The engine manages to handle this all relatively well too, with much less (but still occasional) slowdown than Battlefield 4. And that isn’t the only improvement. Hit detection seems marginally better, and there are certainly less rage inducing instances of game-breaking bugs and glitches.

But, to be honest, that’s about it as far as praise goes. The only level available in the beta, set in L.A., is an incredibly familiar and rather plain cityscape. Several buildings have interiors, although there isn’t really any incentive to do so, as streets often provide just as much cover. The map is very large too, a trademark of the series, but ninety percent of it seems barren, and players have no need to venture outside of the relatively small area where the action is centred.

This often leads to mass camping, and certainly is no where near as dynamic as previous entries. Epic GTA style police chases don’t really happen, either, and even if it did you only ever have a few hundred yards to go before you reach your destination. Add to this the fact that helicopters seem to unbalance the game greatly, as they are armed to the teeth and can easily wreak havoc upon players and vehicles alike, and there is very little incentive to hop in a vehicle other than getting to the action a bit quicker.

If EA are aiming at the Call Of Duty crowd, which I suspect they are, then they may find some success. The emphasis on infantry battles is clear, and the gunplay tight enough to accommodate it. But I can’t help but feel that there isn’t a lot here for the hardened Battlefield fan. Many of the mechanics that make Battlefield what it is are absent, replaced with a much less nuanced, more frenetic pace, while at the same time managing to feel very familiar and tired despite the new gameplay. In fact, you would be forgiven for thinking that it wasn’t just the next expansion for Battlefield 4.

Add to that the rather unenviable position that Visceral find themselves in, of following up one of the most broken games ever released. Many will find it insulting that we have another full-priced

Battlefield game when the last one still doesn’t work properly. It smacks of a lack of respect from EA towards their customers, and is sure to put many off of buying it. But regardless, I can’t deny that I had fun playing Gardline. A different kind of fun, but still very amusing.

I look forward to seeing how the final game turns out, but personally? Well, personally, I think EA and Visceral will have to do a lot to shake the nagging feeling within the community that this, with its familiarity and lack of any real innovation, would be more suited to a downloadable expansion than a full price retail game.

I think that this game will rely heavily on the single-player portion to sell it, and in that respect, I think if Visceral apply their storytelling prowess then we could be seeing the most interesting single-player Battlefield experience in years.

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Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

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Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is a new installment of the Call of Duty series. It will be developed by Sledgehammer Games on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC and High Moon Studios on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It is set to be released on November 4, 2014 for Xbox One,PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3,Xbox 360, and PC. A Wii U version has not yet been announced, but there is an expectation that Activision will clear this up sooner or later. It is the first game in the series to benefit from the three year development cycle.

Setting

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is set in the year 2054 and possibly 2052. ATLAS, a private military company led by Jonathan Irons, wages a conflict against the United States government, which Irons believes has failed in installing democracies across the globe for over a century. It is also about the U.S.M.C. in 2054.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare takes place in a plausible future in which technological progress and today’s military practices have converged with powerful consequences.

Private Military Corporations (PMCs) have become the dominant armed forces for countless nations outsourcing their military needs, redrawing borders and rewriting the rules of war.

Locations

Seattle, Washington, U.S.A. San Francisco, California, U.S.A. Greece Balkan Mountains Lagos Seoul, South Korea

Levels

BioLab Collapse Induction

Gameplay

Harnessing the power of next-gen platforms, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare brings players into the battlegrounds of the future by boasting a new hi-tech, advanced arsenal and ability set, arming players with all-new equipment, technology, perks, and vehicles like hoverbikes and highly specialized drones. Players can also choose between standard ammunition and an all-new class of directed-energy weaponry that enables totally new gameplay dynamics. And with exoskeletons delivering a massive force multiplier and unprecedented tactical freedom, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare evolves every firefight. Powerful exoskeletons evolve every aspect of a soldier’s battle readiness, enabling combatants to deploy with an advanced lethality and eliminating the need for specialization. The introduction of this gameplay mechanic delivers enhanced player movement and verticality through boost jumps and grappling, covert cloaking abilities, and biomechanics that provide unparalleled strength, awareness, endurance, and speed. With the advent of the exoskeleton and newly advanced armor and weaponry, every soldier commands tactical freedom in any terrain unlike ever before, fundamentally changing the way gamers play Call of Duty across all modes. In singleplayer, players will earn points during missions that can be used to upgrade the exoskeleton suit with new features.

Development

Sledgehammer confirmed that they were hiring for an unannounced Call of Duty project and a Sledgehammer employee stated that he’s responsible for “developing photo real visual effects for the next Call of Duty – Modern Warfare release.” in the summer of 2013. In January 2014, a job listing for a Weapons & Vehicle Artist stated that the “candidate must have experience using Adobe Photoshop to create hyper realistic textures for next gen materials.and that Sledgehammer are looking for a top notch hard surfaces modeler to join [their] AAA family working on the next Call of Duty game. On February 6, 2014, Sledgehammer Games and Activision confirmed that they would be developing the 2014 release of Call of Duty series. On May 1, 2014 Activision released a series of teasers and minor details about Call of Duty 2014, calling it a New Era for Call of Duty, and setting Sunday, May 4 as the world premiere. Later that night, Destructoid.com leaked a low quality version of the reveal trailer along with several .gifs of said trailer. As a result, Activision decided to release the trailer to Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare early on the official Call of Duty Youtube channel. Developed by Sledgehammer Games (co-developers of Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare® 3), harnesses the first three-year, all next-gen development cycle in franchise history. Call of Duty®: Advanced Warfare envisions the powerful battlegrounds of the future, where both technology and tactic have evolved to usher in a new era of combat for the franchise. Delivering a stunning performance, Academy Award® winning actor Kevin Spacey stars as Jonathan Irons – one of the most powerful men in the world – shaping this chilling vision of the future of war.

Multiplayer

Michael Condrey, co-founder of Sledgehammer Games, has revealed on twitter that the player is able to choose which gender they are in multiplayer, similar to Call of Duty: Ghosts.

Battlefield Hardline Review

Battlefield Hardline’s multiplayer has launched without disaster. There are glitches and dumb physics (which could be said about any Battlefield), but hell, it works, and it’s fun. After Battlefield 4, that deserves a clap. A slow, slightly sarcastic clap, but a clap. Bravo!

Hardline is fun, but in the words of Roger Murtaugh, I’m getting too old for this shit. It’s exhausting. I pine for Battlefield 1942’s simple structures, sprawling terrain, and Lee-Enfield rifles. The same fundamentals are still here—big maps, classes, vehicles, 64 players—but the speed and firepower of Hardline make it a constant struggle to survive long enough to do anything fun.

It’s got the rhythm of an old car lurching forward and then bouncing back off its front tires. I spawn into a helicopter and blow up immediately, or spawn on my squadmate and instantly trade lives (somehow) with a guy right in front of me, or spawn and get run over, or spawn and drive head first into an RPG. Objectives are pelted with explosives and there’s always someone with a shotgun around the corner (or crouching in the corner). When crappy, short lives like these pile up one after the other, the screen gets a good flipping off.

The only thing I wouldn’t mind going faster are the unlocks. There aren’t all that many guns, but not having the good ones is a barrier to fun. I spent the first several hours struggling with the Mechanic’s default MP5K, losing short range duels I felt I should have won. So I switched to the assault rifle-carrying Operator and had a better experience. And then I realized I had a battlepack sitting unopened with my Deluxe Edition ACWR carbine. Suddenly I’m getting tons of kills, and that’s some bullshit. My apparent skill level shouldn’t jump a bunch of notches because I have a special weapon. I like progression systems because they give me something to work toward—guns and attachments to experiment with—but I’m interested in lateral progression. It shouldn’t feel like I’m walking head first into a gale of bullets until I progress.

And while Battlefield’s signature glitchy physics anomalies can be fun (I saw a motorcycle launch into a helicopter, hehe), I have a lot of questions about my bullets. Hardline has not launched disastrously, no, but I have experienced occasional frustrations—apparent hits that don’t register, or being killed through a door before it opens and before I should have even been visible to the enemy. It’s hard to prove any of this stuff when it’s subtle, but I’m not the only one noticing it.

Battlewheeled

But if all that doesn’t aggravate you so much that you step away, this stupid game is a lot of fun. My favorite mode is Hotwire, which epitomizes Hardline’s speed. It’s still about capturing and controlling points, but those points are now cars which must be driven around the map. This makes sense, because driving cars in circles is how you uphold the law, and also break it.

There are three basic activities in Hotwire—finding RPGs and blowing up cars, providing air support, and driving or riding in cars—along with little shootouts when you cross paths with the enemy on the way to do those things. When you’re bouncing around in a car with music going, leaning out the window spraying bullets, it’s hard not to have fun.

The biggest problem with Hotwire is that while the new cars are mostly nice to control on a keyboard (a light tap on the brakes really zips you around corners), they sometimes want to go faster than the server, stuttering and rubberbanding against each other as the physics sorts itself out. One time I collided with a motorcycle and flew into the ocean—and I was in a sedan. The maps also feel way too small—Hardline seems to value speed over size—and I’m often driving out of bounds.

Battlefield Hardline MP1You’d have to be a pretty good sniper to hit anything from a moving car, but be my guest! Heist, in which the criminals must steal two packages and deliver them to drop off points, works well on maps that are big enough to support it. In some cases, it’s just a meatgrinder, but the Bank Heist map especially can be tactically rewarding. Coordinated squad work is essential, and I only wish people talked to each other more.

I also really enjoy Blood Money on maps with vehicles. It’s as nonsensical as Hotwire: both teams must retrieve cash from a central repository and deliver it to their vaults, but can also steal from each other’s vaults. There’s just constantly stuff to do. Grab an armored truck and drive it into the enemy vault if you want, or just chase around their money carriers, or steal some cash yourself, or find a Stinger and blow up a helicopter. You’re going to be blown up too, any second now, so just go nuts. It’s a madhouse. It’s tiring. And it’s an enjoyable, loud, farcical chaos that will probably get old, but for now is a big, dumb exploding playground.

Conquest and TDM are back, too. Conquest is conquest, and still fun even though it has nothing to do with the cops and robbers theme, and TDM is where people go to speed through the progression—that hasn’t changed. There are also two new 5v5 modes, and while they’re fine (Counter-Strike on big, open maps, essentially), they’re not being played much. I don’t expect Hardline to compete with CS:GO. It’s just not what it’s about.

Good cop, sad cop

The Hardline campaign is to The Shield what Call of Duty is to Tom Clancy novels. They’re both stories of corruption and betrayal—tough men with tough faces making tough choices—but any grounding in real police or military work is upended by car chases and shootouts and last second escapes, explosions and impossible odds.

“This city is a battlefield… and you’re walking a fine line, kid.”

“No, sir, I’m taking a hardline.” Pew pew!

Alright, it’s not that dumb. The story’s actually fine: you, a good and honest cop, are a pawn in a corrupt force’s drug game, and it’s time to take out the trash. (Also not a real line, but I’m just summarizing here.) The acting is good—there are some talented folks involved—though sometimes the plasticine faces are creepy. Whenever Nicholas Gonzalez or Kelly Hu sweat it looks like their skin is going to melt into a puddle.

Police work is simple in Hardline: arrest criminals, shoot criminals when you can’t arrest them, find evidence. It has so little basis in reality, my initial unease about the subject matter—modern police corruption and brutality isn’t a frivolous subject, especially right now—almost wholly evaporated. I had to laugh when I was reprimanded because my partner punched a guy after the two of us filled a hotel with bodies. The bad guys are gun toting lunatics, you’re a gun toting lunatic, and everyone shoots everyone. It’s a lot like Max Payne in that respect.

It plays a little like Payne, too. There’s no shootdodging, but each room is something to try and try again until the puzzle is solved. Generally, I solved that puzzle like Max would: by shooting everyone. I’m crouch-walking between cover, conserving ammo and taking shots carefully, and it doesn’t take much to kill me. This is true, at least, on the hardest mode, which is how I recommend you play Hardline. It’s a decent shooter campaign, with the freedom to take on most areas from a variety of positions and with the arsenal and gadgets of my choosing.

In one part, I have to breach one of two buildings, the outsides of which are guarded by patrolling baddies. So, what’s a cop to do but load up with a grappling hook, zipline, revolver, and P90 submachinegun? I approach around an unguarded side of the right building, and fire my grappling hook to the roof. I could have gone any other way, but this way I’m up and out of sight quickly. As I creep through the roof access door, though, I’m spotted. A quick finger on ‘G’ flashes my badge. “Freeze!”

Police academy

Unlike Max Payne, Nick Mendoza can actually do police stuff. He can make arrests (sometimes) instead of shooting, it’s just a bit tedious. Flashing your badge at isolated enemies causes them to drop their guns and surrender, at which point you can take them down and cuff them. Then they fall asleep. Seriously, there are ‘Z’s above their heads.

The catch is that you can’t arrest more than three guys at once, and if you’re spotted cuffing someone, they’ll open fire. It’s the most ridiculous thing about Hardline’s campaign, and it’s not a great a deal of fun—it’s Metal Gear Lite. Later in the game, for instance, I was in a small room with about eight guys. Tossing a shell draws guards to me one at a time so they can be arrested in my secluded arrestin’ spot. I cleared the room slowly, building a pile of sleeping goons in my little corner. Hard as it would’ve been, the John Wick approach would’ve been more fun. And the fact that you can arrest criminals makes it even weirder, and slightly uncomfortable, that you can shoot them. Either I’m Max Payne or I’m Lennie Briscoe, either this is a shooter or it’s Police Quest—I don’t think you can have it both ways.

I’m rewarded for the non-violent approach and other police-like behavior with points, but none of it really feels worth it. Early on, I’m driving around a swamp boat with my partner, having long boring chats as I poke around for evidence. I have to peer through my ‘scanner’ to collect evidence (it’s much better utilized as a way to mark enemies and alarm systems), shuffling around looking for highlighted objects to click on. Sometimes you have to collect evidence to progress, but I didn’t go above and beyond. Because it’s boring. Oh, and there are a couple mandatory stealth (get ready to run from spotlights) and car chase sequences that just obstruct the good, more open sections. They are not very fun.

But when it’s not infuriating, Hardline is fun—weird, chaotic, brutal fun. The multiplayer is the important bit, and it’s a parade of points, mini-achievements, goofy car crashes, motorcycles flying into helicopters, and incendiary grenades. It’s too much too fast, with a low time-to-kill that makes every life fleeting. It’s not elegant, but the lawless bedlam has its moments. When I’m doing well, getting kills and screaming around a map in a stolen sports car, it’s worth it.

PERFORMANCE AND SETTINGS

Reviewed on: Windows 7, Core i5-3570, 8GB RAM, GeForce GTX Titan Play it on: Core i5-3570, 8GB RAM, GeForce GTX 760/Radeon R9 290

Battlefield Hardline ran well on every system I tried it on, achieving 70-100 fps at 1080p on my home PC (specs above). That’s with a Titan, sure, but I also had a good experience with a GTX 770. There are lots of settings, and I appreciate the colorblind modes which change the HUD colors. My main complaint is the long load times.