"...And then when we were seven we did a poo in our dad's wardrobe, and blamed it on the dog, and the dog got put down..."
Given that we've all got a relationship with the law - from one side or another - it's weird that there haven't been more video games which cast the player in the role of a cop.
Back in the day, we were big fans of the Police Quest games - but they started out as a regular point-and-click adventure series, before mutating into a slightly worthy (ie; dull) procedural thing.
We don't know why this should be. Perhaps it's because police work must take place within the boundaries of the law, whereas most first-person shooters drop you into the anything-goes chaos of war. Being a policeman encourages the player to make arrests, and not just run around guns blazing at cannon-fodder demons, aliens, or foreigners.
Opening up the world of first-person shooters to police work - as Battlefield Hardline does - invites a myriad of possibilities. What about a game where you play as a Special Constable, and must knock on doors offering to SmartWater the occupant's valuables? "PRESS X TO TAG DVD PLAYER". That would be good.
Battlefield Hardline ditches the all-out modern warfare of recent Battlefield games in favour of Miami's war on drugs (which is a canny move for any potential ongoing franchise, given we all know that's a war which cannot be won... CONTROVERSIAL!!!!).
The single-player mode has a typically weak plot, of sorts, but it's really just an excuse to hang a whole bunch of new gameplay features from. As you'd expect, this is a game about the law, more than it is about shooting: taking a stealthy approach to the gunplay is surprisingly fun - as you bust through doors waving your badge around, and cuffing (or tasering) suspects. Tagging the drug-ohs and CCTV cameras before you head inside allows you to infiltrate the base, in theory, with the minimum of shots fired.
However, fans of Battlefield's usual armoury won't be disappointed: as a member of the Special Response Unit you have access to military grade weaponry, and there are points when an all-out gunfight will be more or less impossible to avoid. Unless you're a gung-ho loon, these tend to be held back for set-piece events - the big movie action sequence, basically.
Despite encouraging a more stealthy approach - and giving you the means to tackle each scenario however you see fit - Battlefield Hardline isn't some fiddly, anal, simulation.
It's widescreen, cheesy and cliched (you probably could've guessed the plot featured corrupt cops before you even started reading this review), a Lethal Weapon movie in game form. There are car chases, and helicopters, and bonkers set-pieces, and when the guns do come out you'll be cowering behind walls, as the plaster is ripped away by bullets, and you'll use a grappling hook and zipline to drop in on crooks from neighbouring buildings, and it's an absurd amount of larks, and we liked it.
For all that, it does feel a little rough around the edges. Visually, it doesn't make the most of the next-gen versions, and it's all a bit on the low-res side. Fortunately, the destructive scenery mostly makes up for the lack of gloss.
There are five multiplayer modes in Hardline, which function to varying degrees of success.
Nicely, they mostly stick to the overarching cops vs crims theme, albeit through thinly-disguised reinterpretations of already established multiplayer modes - breaking into vaults while the other team try to stop you, or the excellent Hotwire mode where winning is about how long you can stay in your car for (not as easy as it sounds - it's not boredom you'll be combating).
Given the nature of the game, the maps could've been more interesting, and less flat arena-like - but again, it's the destructive scenery which saves the day. When the chaos piles up - particularly in Hotwire - it's hysterically over-the-top.
Ultimately, Hardline isn't perfect, and we could find niggles, but on balance it'd be a lie to say we didn't enjoy it - and we doff our police helmets for its attempt at not doing just another sepia-toned military shooter. Instead of trying to be a blockbuster war movie, it's a blockbuster, Michael Bay cop movie, and that is a good thing.
It's not particularly subtle, and doesn't quite have the depth or level of polish of certain other FPS titles - but when it works, it really works. Cop-off with this.
SCORE: Lethal Weapon 3.5/5