So after constant reminders that Spec Ops: The Line is not as it seems (a bro-shooter clone) and when the game becoming free with Playstation Plus, I finally decided to give this bad boy a go. A little back story here, I’ve been having very annoying health problems lately and ended up in hospital again. This time it was only 3 days compared to my previous 3 weeks. To anyone who has never been in hospital, something happens while you stay which makes your brain go numb. Perhaps it’s the repetition of the day or staring at the plain white walls but as soon as you leave, you feel incapable of focusing on anything for extended periods of time.
That’s where Spec Ops came in. After a nice long shower I sat down in front of my TV and started scrolling through my backlog. Nothing really spoke to me as it would be a waste to commit to these epic story driven games without my concentration being at its fullest. So I went with Spec Ops, for what I thought would be a nice, simple, third-person shooter I could mess around with until I was ready to dive into Mass Effect 2. For the first hour or so, that was pretty accurate. Then the story kicked in and boy was it good.
I’ll try to avoid spoilers as much as I can but know that 2K Games saw the story Yager Development was going for and trusted them. As you plough through the sandstorm infested desert of Dubai in search of victims and answers, your player, Captain Walker discovers Dubai, the war and most importantly his mission is not as it seems. Voiced by Nolan North, Martin Walker is an intriguing Commander of Delta Force, consisting of himself and his two men; Lugo and Addams. The conversations that ensue between these three men throughout the game are never wasteful filler and always contribute to the moral justification of your quest. Although Spec Ops presents choices that don’t affect the story per se, they are often morally ambiguous and difficult to choose, forcing you to think about it personally and not just as a player.
The combat is fluid and satisfying. You control a single player but also give orders to the other two, such as: “take out that sniper” or “flash bang those men.” Lugo and Addams are also competent AI that support your assault or defence. Lugo is an effective long shot while Addams resembles a demolition man with heavy weaponry, leaving you to choose your arsenal to fill in the gap. The trio offer a dynamic play style which isn’t repetitive and is relatively flexible. I truly felt part of a tight team while playing.
The game also looks beautiful. The glossy buildings, infinitely stretching desert and artificial intelligence design all make the play through an enjoyable experience. While the lip sync seems consistently off, the voice acting is spot on and very compelling. Yet another great performance by Nolan North. The soundtrack is also complimentary to the story and is presented interestingly through the radioman, who chooses what you will hear. The game avoids many war music clichés, except Ride of The Valkyries, by Wagner during a helicopter attack, made popular in Apocalypse Now. After this I was almost waiting forCreedence Clearwater Revivals: Fortunate Son but fortunately, it never came
Watching your team go through hell and become progressively rougher brought back memories of the first Die Hard movie, wherein you could visually notice John Mclane’s vest getting dirtier and dirtier. But there is no expectation for everything to turn out well. This game is dark, unexpectedly so. It’s also very brave, as you will shoot “innocent” people and a lot of American troops and other details I will not go into as you should experience it for yourself.
Spec Ops: The Line is truly an underrated gem which deserved peoples time and attention. The developers clearly put a lot of effort to make this a unique shooter experience through its story. Unfortunately the title is terrible and doesn’t resemble the game at all. All footage of the game also demonstrates simple shooting mechanics and guns instead of focusing on what is special about this game, it’s narrative. I would recommend this title to anyone who looks for great plots in video games and also enjoys third person shooters.
Here’s to hoping for a sequel with a better title.