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Battlefield Hardline

R16: contains violence, offensive language and drug use

Spoiler alert

This page outlines how the classification criteria were applied. We do our best to discuss the content while avoiding spoilers, but please avoid reading this information if you do not want to learn anything about the content of this game.

Battlefield Hardline poster

Date registered: 16/12/2014

About the game

Battlefield Hardline is a police themed spin off from the Battlefield series of first person military shooters.

Developed by American studio Visceral Games it contains the expansive multiplayer options the series is known for as well as a single player story. Over the course of ten episodes and a prologue, the player controls Detective Nicholas Mendoza as an investigation into drug trafficking in Miami uncovers police corruption and organised crime.

Gameplay - police car chase

Classification criteria: Crime

Criminal acts such as theft, murder, drug trafficking, police corruption and brutality are dealt with in the course of the plot. The use of police brutality and working outside the law is commented on with "the kind of stuff we're doing you can't bring before a [District Attorney]" and is framed in an 'end justifies the means' context.

In addition there is a scene of drug use in one mission where two men can be seen snorting cocaine in a kitchen. As a part of a narrative exploring excess and corruption the overall effect is not promotional. Furthermore, while later developments result in Mendoza working outside the law, his moralising and a police presence ensure the criminal acts depicted are neither promoted nor encouraged.

The game supports both a stealthy and aggressive approach to its combat scenarios which varies the extent of violence presented.

Gameplay - bank robbery in progress

Classification criteria: Violence

The game deals with the infliction of serious physical harm to a high extent and moderate degree. The game incentivises a non-lethal approach, granting more experience points to unlock various upgrades faster. However if an arrest is interrupted or the player is sighted while attempting a stealth attack, enemies open fire on the player which necessitates a lethal response.

Shooting an enemy results in blood spraying in the air but this does not affect the environment and there is no injury presented. Once killed, they collapse realistically to the ground with a pool of blood underneath. Post-mortem damage is limited to some blood spray on impact and does not increase the amount of blood pooled on the ground. However the repetitive combat scenarios feature numerous enemies, extending the length of gunfights. With each shot blood or dust sprays into the air and this environmental destruction increases the impression of chaotic violence.

Cruelty and gore also feature in the story, particularly with the discovery of an informant's corpse. Tied to a partially submerged pole amidst the alligator-infested mangroves of Southern Florida, his lower legs are missing with some flesh and bone visible. The implication he was alive as the alligators attacked is particularly cruel. Another scene of stronger violence occurs with a first person animation of Mendoza strangling a captor with his cuffed hands. While brief, the man struggles and gasps which increases the impact.

Gameplay - bank robber being shot by military police with a tazer

Classification criteria: Highly offensive language

The game contains a considerable amount of highly offensive language. Used aggressively and for emphasis, such language occurs in both character dialogue and repetitive combat barks. Overall, the way highly offensive language is presented is likely to inure impressionable viewers to its use, increasing the risk of imitation which may negatively impact their social interactions.

Gameplay - using a rocket launcher to attack a helicopter

Decision summary

Battlefield Hardline is a bombastic and immersive first person shooter about drugs, dirty cops and over the top action. The game deals with crime, violence, cruelty and offensive language to an extent and degree that the unrestricted availability of the publication would be injurious to the public good.

Frequent depictions of bloody violence have the potential to inure audiences towards violence in general and coupled with elements of cruelty would shock and disturb younger audiences. Regular use of highly offensive language is also likely to negatively affect younger persons' social lives if imitated.

Furthermore, the game deals with extensive criminal activity, including drug use and trafficking as well as police corruption and brutality. Such content suggests a mature audience familiar with the genre tropes of criminal dramas.

These harms are considered with the right to freedom of expression as set out in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. Older teenagers and adults are not likely to be unduly affected by the aforementioned content as they have the maturity to place it within its criminal context. Restricting the availability of the publication to older teenagers and adults is the lowest reasonable restriction which can be applied in order to prevent injury to the public good.

Therefore Battlefield Hardline is classified as objectionable unless its availability is restricted to persons who have attained the age of 16 years.

Contact the Information Unit if you require further information on a classification decision.

R16 label
R16: contains violence, offensive language and drug use