Battlefield: Hardline – The late grab

I was away from America for two years, and while I was gone, this little gem came out.  Battlefield: Hardline.  It was on sale for 5$ on PSN, so I had to pick it up.  A bit late to the scene, but reviewed in the mindset of as if it just came out.

General thoughts: I’ve been a Battlefield series fan all up until 3. Before that time was a creative use of kits and customization, vehicles, and general strategy. After Battlefield 3 (or the executioner as I call it), I was very disappointed with everything Battlefield related. I skipped 4 completely. I didn’t want to have anything to do with it.
And here comes Hardline, promising a riveting story line (we all saw how 3 went. Hah!), cop chases, characters, and takin’ down some bad guys.
What I experienced was EA, once again targeting the “grungy child” demographic and ignoring quality.

Let me explain.

Now, before I begin, I know the Battlefield series isn’t so far known for their single player experiences, but seems as how the marketing and game all point to the single player as a main highlight of Hardline, I might as well treat it as if it’s trying to be a triple A story.

We started off with a good opening, a take-down gone wrong, and a car chase. You end up killing some people, but as a detective, you merely get a slap on the wrist. The very first thing I noted in my mental “annoyances” notebook as I played was that the game either held your hand too tight, or completely threw you to the proverbial (literally in one level) crocs and walked away. I felt completely lost sometimes. No one telling me where I should go, or even giving me an icon. Other times I felt too guided. When I looked for evidence (which isn’t mandatory by the way), I had a compass with a distance marker telling me where the next one was.

The AI was a big thing I noticed, too. Either they’re stupid to the point where it makes the first Metal Gear Solid AI look intelligent, or they’re extremely professional shooty mcshootersons with aimbots trained on your face through walls when you’re fighting. They apparently don’t need to use cover either because they’re so good.

The game itself made me feel like I was playing a shooter from the late 2000s. Choppy models and useless quick time events aside, the graphics themselves were a little lacking for our time.
The faces were nice, however. I felt like I was watching a cop show while the characters talked.
Speaking of people talking, there’s absolutely no way anyone in a professional group goes through that many f bombs in one conversation.
I suppose to make the game more “edgy” and “hardcore” EA decided to throw in a curse word into every voice line in the first level. Appeals to the brain dead COD kid I suppose.

SPOILER ALERT IF YOU CARE AT ALL ABOUT THE STORY IN A BATTLEFIELD GAME

As the story continues, your character gets framed for doin’ dirty deeds and you go to jail. You escape thanks to some neutral bad boys from earlier (still not sure why they freed you), and get into the group to take down your dirty ex-police captain. In the end, you track him down with the intent to destroy his life. I expected it to go as most cop movies would. You show to the world that the real dirty cop is the culprit and you walk away takin’ in baddies once again.

But what happened is thus: you kill a bunch of security people in a warzone setting, get to the big bad guy, walk into his office and intend to just kill him. You point your gun at him for a while, talking about nothing, and he asks you to join him. He says you and him are exactly the same. More criminal than cop. You agree and… And…
Well, you shoot him. Dead.

But lo and behold! He left a note for you about a seeeecret storage cave behind a bookshelf that leads you to a bunch of money! And now you’re rich! Somehow! Because you can totally carry off cash and gold off the big bad guy island by yourself with no boat!

TOTALLY!
But what will money do for you? You’re a convicted felon! I guess we’ll never know BECAUSE THE GAME ENDS RIGHT THERE.
NO MORE
NO EXPLANATION.
JUST
MONEY.

Your character had a hero conplex, too! Does this game just teach children (its obvious targeted demographic) that being a good guy doesnt pay off? Is it trying to create a generation of criminal COD kids? Why would you play up a character’s personality like that for the whole game and just DROP it? GRRRRRAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!

To sum up, Battlefield Hardline was a cool cop game idea that fell through because of time constraints and demographic targeting. The story makes no sense either.

Also, the multiplayer COULD have been cool, but it’s just COD with different objectives.
Good game, EA.  You disappoint me yet again.

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Overwatch: A sport?

Overwatch-Launch-14

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  A video game as a sport?  Where are the athletes?  Where’s the ball?  What defines a sport?  Aren’t sports always about physical activity?

So, this is where I come in and say “Overwatch has become a sport.”

While League of Legends was deemed a sport by many countries three (or more?) years ago, Overwatch still has yet to gain that status officially.  But here’s where Blizzard, the makers of Overwatch are succeeding, where Riot games, the makers of League of Legends failed.

For one, as the article below states, Overwatch uses a very simple rule set and play style to draw in more viewership.  The more people that can easily understand what’s going on in a game will be more likely to enjoy it.  For example: I never got into baseball or football as a kid.  I never understood what was going on, and I never had anyone explain it to me.  Soccer on the other hand was a lot easier to understand.  Past the fake injuries, I understood most of the game aside from off-sides.

Overwatch keeps its rule set and characters simple.  The players choose from a set of pre-made characters with their own small belt of skills and weapons that are easily seen and understood.  That girl is carrying a sniper rifle?  I guess she’s a sniper!  The gorilla shoots electricity and jumps?  Cool!  Harambe!

Despite being simple to understand on a basic level, the game itself has a deep sense of strategy, teamwork, problem solving, and critical thinking.  This makes the true understanding of it complex and intricate.  Enough so as to make a football enthusiast enjoy Overwatch with the amount of planning and thinking that goes into every “play.”

The maps bring a sense of complexity as well.  Positioning, like in any sport, is an important part in Overwatch.  Like when a soccer team makes a beautiful pass and score, the position of the players was just as important as the players actually having the ball.  If you have no one to pass it to, or no where to run, there’s no point in having the ball other than to keep it away from the enemy team.  This is entertaining to watch, as seeing the positioning of players before the play happens and determining what would happen is a great part of fun in watching sporting events.  Even if you don’t notice it, your pre-conceptions about how a player is going to go and seeing it actually happen (or not) is why you watch.

The teams in Overwatch need to position well to win.  If everyone is in the same small ball, running into the enemy team, there’s a high chance someone will use a skill that gathers them even more, or destroys them all with one hit.  A common occurrence in professional play.  Watching a team get destroyed from positioning is the same thrill that people get when they watch a football team position themselves just right to get a touchdown.

Another factor in how Blizzard has created a great eSport is in the map design.  Each map has its own simple rules and paths of travel.  One mode is easy to understand: One team moves a vehicle by standing around it to and end point down a series of roads to win.  The enemy team must keep them off of the vehicle long enough in order to win.  With this simple rule set, we can easily see how it could be a very tense, and adrenaline fueled game to watch.  when the clock is ticking down to mere seconds, and the team you are rooting for is having trouble keeping up with the enemy, you know the gloves will come off and there’s going to be an amazing play coming up.  The team all re-spawns after the last death with 30 seconds on the clock, just enough to get back to the vehicle.  They rush in, adrenaline spiking, into the enemy team.  They made a last-ditch effort to win, and even if they lose, the last play is always the best to watch.  Desperation, just like in other sports, is a huge win-factor.

Blizzard is making a huge push to become the next famous eSport everyone plays.  Riot games became that, but made many mistakes along the way I’ll probably point out in another post.  Blizzard, and Overwatch on the other hand, are making all of the right decisions.  Not only are they making good game-design, they’re piling in a huge amount of money into the marketing, and publicity for Overwatch as an eSport.  I’m excited to see where it leads them, and what becomes of the eSports scene.

Next time you turn on ESPN or a streaming site, maybe take a few minutes to watch an Overwatch game?  Who knows, it could become your next favorite sport!

Link to referenced post: http://www.polygon.com/2016/11/16/13650584/blizzard-overwatch-blizzcon-esport