While I applaud Austin Walker for his well-written, in-depth analysis of Battlefield: Hardline‘s glaring faults in its foray into racial stigma, it is an analysis, above all, not a review, and probably would function best under that descriptor. Apart from that, it is an insightful and introspective thinkpiece that only glows in comparison to its response. Marc Price’s response is nothing but apologetic, aimless prose which fails to commit to any sort of antithesis or drive home a strong opinion. Strangely it delves too often into anecdotes on pornography so much I am left wondering how much of Price’s attention was truly paid to formulating a tangible, evidenced opinion on the game. Price’s flimsy interpretation of Hardline, solemn ever backed up by significant relevant evidence means nothing in contrast to Walker’s cohesive, in-depth and clearly deeply personal affair with the same game.
Price makes many feeble statements he expects the reader to believe without much context from the game itself. We are expected to forgive the game because a white man finds it enjoyable, where a black man finds it a devastating reoccurance of a tired anti-black narrative. The short of it was that Price was never in a position to contribute an interesting or fresh take on the game in the first place.
Battlefield: Hardline starts off on a broken foot with a loading screen in which KRS-One’s The Sound of Da Police plays. The song is of a sub-genre of hip-hop called “conscious hip-hop” alluding to its protest of the anti-black state of affairs within the police force. However the song carefully tapers off before its protestive lyrics start, cringingly repurposing it as a pump-up song for the direct opposite effect of what was intended. It’s understandable why this may be an insensitive choice of music for an encouragingly violent game where you control the police. KRS-One’s lyrics detail his experience with racial profiling, and while Price is right in that Battlefield: Hardline makes efforts to rid its Cuban and Vietnamese protagonists of racial stereotypes, I argue that it plays into exactly the unfortunate reality that KRS-One describes.
A lengthy segment close to the beginning of the game pictures the protagonists driving around the slums. Out of around seven negative encounters with NPCs which mean to demean the lower class inhabitants of the slums and attempt to paint the picture of a degenerate neighbourhood, five examples are of black Americans. Black Amercians are the no. 1 victims of police brutality in America, and the game treats this sensitive subject carelessly.
The aforementioned is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to racist sentiments in Battlefield: Hardline. Maybe Price should have considered the impact of racist media on the real world while he was applauding a Vietnamese woman for putting down Japanese martial arts for strange and innaccurate reasons in order to empower Israeli combat practices – and, by the way, pitting an Asian woman against other Asian cultures in order to depict her as strong and independent of thought means nothing and helps no-one. – Marc Price defends Battlefield: Hardline‘s right to let players thoughtlessly shoot people, which is fine in itself, but what seperates that from any other first-person shooter? They’re abundant already in the market, and not at all a precious resource. We could definitely use less FPS games that encouraged racism and the glorified perception of the police force, but Hardline is not one of those. Maybe a cop story had no place within the”Battlefield” franchise in the first place, as if the game means to senselessly narrate a war often waged on non-white people by police.