Expand Your Battlefield: Hardline Experience with Getaway

The debate between fans of first-person shooters “Call of Duty” and “Battlefield” can be a heated one. Around the time that “Battlefield 3,” still the best game in this series, it looked like the EA juggernaut could overtake the Activision one. Since then, “CoD” has risen to the top again with acclaimed titles like “Advanced Warfare” and “Black Ops III” while it’s sometimes felt like the EA series was treading water.

Sure, “Battlefield 4” looked great, but it was lacking the spark of the previous title, and, to be honest, I’m still not 100% sure how I feel about “Battlefield: Hardline,” almost a year after its release. It can be alternately clunky and gorgeous. It can be fluid one minute and then inconsistent the next. The map design, and the series’ trademark “Levolution,” is still great, but there’s something about the multiplayer experience in “Hardline” that still feels unrefined, and playing the latest map pack, “Getaway,” only amplifies the game’s strengths and weaknesses.

The best thing about the four maps in “Getaway” is the sheer size of them. Played on Conquest Large, most of these maps remind one how much “Battlefield” does open space more expertly than “Call of Duty.” In fact, it’s when the game tries to replicate the close-quarters insanity of a title like “Black Ops III” that it stumbles.

There’s a map called “Diversion,” which takes place in a Flood Center in Houston, that is a series of tight, darkly-lit corridors, and it plays like total chaos. Sometimes, you’ll get one team on the higher level and one on the lower in an interesting stand-off formation, but it’s mostly just a kill-and-die level.

You spawn, run in, shoot randomly, die, and do it again. It doesn’t feel intrinsically like a “Battlefield” experience. To me, this game is at its best with open space, varied elevations, and enough map design that you need a vehicle to traverse it.

Which is what makes “Pacific Highway” the most successful map in “Getaway.” You’re dropped into a section of the California coastline, complete with a tunnel, a winery, and a lighthouse. On Conquest Large, with five points to take or hold, this map offers hours of combat variation. It really does display exactly what “Battlefield” does best, allowing for tight combat in a place like a winery, but also the sense that you’re free to cover large areas and employ a variety of strategies for success.

The other two maps are “Train Dodge” and “Double Cross.” The former has some nifty Levolution that sends a train down the middle of the map, often killing whatever is in its way (although you can ride it too), but it’s a familiar map. Fun, but not incredibly memorable other than the train. “Double Cross” is better. It’s a giant map that takes place on the U.S.-Mexico border and offers tunnels as well huge sightlines above.

“Getaway” also includes three new Mechanic weapons (M5 Navy, AUG Para, M12S), nine new weapons for all player types (G17 Race, M5SD, 1887, AWS, SAR-21, UMP-9, M39 EMR, RO933 M1, 338-Recon), new attachments, 4 trophies, 10 assignments, 15 weapon camos, new vehicle paints, 2 new gadgets, 4 new vehicles, and a new game mode called “Capture the Bag.”

Is the debate still raging over “Battlefield” vs “Call of Duty”? When I tell people I play both games, I don’t get the dirty looks I used to as if I said I voted both Democrat and Republican. Maybe gamers now realize that “Call of Duty” and “Battlefield” do very different things, and we can enjoy playing them both. While “Hardline” has faded more quickly in memory than some recent shooter titles, “Getaway” reminds me what I liked about it in the first place, and gives me hope that the next “Battlefield” game can fire up the debate about the best multiplayer shooter yet again.

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