It's 1998. The world is split into three different factions: the Sectoids, a strange and violent group ruled by the mysterious Deck, and the Rebels, a group that has rallied around the philosophy that for there ever to be peace, the Sectoids must be eliminated. Then there are the other five billion people that have no idea what's going on, even though their lives depend on the outcome of the Sectoid-Rebel war. In the midst of this fray you find yourself trying to survive and make a living. You are Ted Irvin, helicopter pilot for hire, trying to walk the fine line between rival factions.
One day, while responding to an emergency call requesting an airlift, you find yourself trapped in a warehouse, surrounded by violent Sectoids. You try to assess the situation. Your chopper's just been blown away, you've only got a pistol to defend yourself and it seems that every Sectoid within 200 miles wants you dead. This just isn't going to be your day. There are over five hundred angry Sectoids between you and freedom and it's going to be you or them. Then there's the unraveling mystery of your past that is somehow connected with the mysterious Deck, whom the Sectoids speak of with reverence. No doubt about it, there's going to be a lot of bloodshed before the day is over. Hopefully if you're quick enough, it won't be your blood on the floor.
Hardline is an aggressive action-adventure game. It takes its "Mature Ages 17+" rating seriously as it creates a nightmarish, cyberpunkish, gritty vision of the near future. In a world that is ruled by the violent and the merciless, Ted Irvin might seem strangely out of place. Yet within Ted there hides a dormant, soon-to-be-released, frightening psychic power that allows him to kill with his thoughts. As the game progresses you gradually begin to start to experience flashbacks from your past. Somehow these three things are keys to your past: thoughts that kill, flashbacks of you and your brother, and the ominous, unseen Deck. Once the power of your mind is unleashed, you find yourself unable to extract yourself from a one-man war between you and the Sectoids. Along the way, you join forces with the alluring and resourceful rebel Catherine, who is played by the beautiful Rochelle Redfield. She's icy at first, but if you play your cards right, you just might be able to get her to soften up to you.
Hardline is a shoot-'em-up style arcade game, enhanced with full motion video. Cryo spared no expense as they filmed over two hours of full-motion video that is sure to get your blood pumping. As you may have guessed from that last statement, Hardline is indeed mainly a rail shooter with some pretty cool cutscenes. As you make your way through old warehouses, scientific labs, and dreary subway tunnels, a seemingly endless wave of Sectoids launch themselves out at you from behind shadowy doorways, vehicles, and stacked crates. Using your mouse, you control the crosshairs of whatever weapon you have ready. A mere click of the mouse button unleashes a gory death from shotguns, machine guns, and many other weapons that you find along the way.
Cryo filmed seemingly hundreds of actors in various poses, as they ran, rolled, crouched, fired guns and launched grenades. Then they placed their images over the backgrounds and fairly seamlessly integrated the live actors in with the computer generated background scenes. During the game, you mow down hundreds of the Sectoids, as they collapse in various explosions of blood. If you are into mass destruction, you will certainly enjoy this game.
Once you solve the riddle of your past and finally come face to face with Deck, there's not much value to replaying this game, but be forewarned, it will take you a long time to finally beat this game. Several levels frustrated me to no end. I would get almost to the end of a sequence and then some Sectoid would roll out of a doorway, launch a grenade and I was gone. Save your position often!
Cryo's ability to use computer-generated special effects and backdrops and integrate them tightly with real actors and actresses was very sharp. Playing the game was very much like watching a movie, except that you had full control over the main character. Often times the use of full motion video takes away from game play, but not so here. FMV is used very effectively in Hardline. It sets up the action well and also helps to fill in the plot without drawing away from gameplay.
The cutscenes are well done and nicely set you up for the next wave of Sectoids. The detail incorporated into the game was enough to generate the look and feel of being in this near future world.
Hardline requires 15 MB of hard drive space (72 recommended)
Windows: 486DX/266 (P-60 recommended), 8 MB RAM (12 recommended), Windows 95, SVGA capable video card, Microsoft compatible mouse, 2X CD-ROM drive
Reviewed on: P-133, 48 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM drive, S3 Trio64V+
Hardline is nicely balanced between being a rail shooter action game and an adventure game. The many carnage scenes are broken up with adventure game sequences, where you must locate certain items necessary for your quest. Hardline has a good solid plot that is mysterious and engaging. If you are squeamish, you may want to avoid this game, but if you don't mind the "mature" nature of this type of game and if rail shooters are your thing, there's a good chance you'll enjoy Hardline.