DEVELOPER: Yager Development
PUBLISHER: 2K Games
GENRE: Third Person Shooter
PLATFORM: Windows PC
RATING: M for Mature
RELEASE DATE: June 26th, 2012
Spec Ops: The Line is another title that falls outside of my usual gaming habits that I’ve been continuing to expand. I might play first and third person shooters occasionally but not to a large degree though I generally do enjoy them. Spec Ops: The Line comes with it’s own setting of a post catastrophic sandstorm in Dubai and is the tale of a group of Delta Team special operators who are sent in to find out what’s happening following the failed attempt to evacuate the city by the 33rd Battalion. What goes from a covert infiltration and recon exercise turns quickly into a battle of survival against the city inhabitants, enemy Insurgents, and soldiers of the 33rd whom have set themselves up with their own agenda. In the city of Dubai, where sand and dust is slowly engulfing the city and will eventually hide it from the world, what follows in terms of the game and the narrative is an experience all it’s own, and one I enjoyed immensely.
The fundamental gameplay is about what you’d expect for a third person,tactical shooter. You run through the various areas shooting enemies with an assortment of weapons, toss grenades, or smack the snot out of them. As you take cover behind various environment elements, wreckage, burned out vehicles and so on, there will be times you can issue commands to your team of npc’s to toss grenades, take shots, and so on. What makes things interesting however is that given the state of affairs in Dubai, ammunition is in short supply so don’t expect to run through the game with any one weapon through out the game. The good news is that while you might not be able to cart your favorite weapon with you through the whole game, there’s plenty to be scavenged from the hands of your enemies. There’s all manner of weird and wonderful weapons to pick up and use as you run and gun your way through Dubai.
Changing up weapons, discarding your empties and making the best of a hellish situation is the name of the game. This also takes some planning as you progress due to not knowing what lays ahead of you, you might have to opt for whatever is readily available with a lot of ammo rather then just picking up the uber weapons that are very ammunition-ally challenged. There’s also the occasions where you can get behind a mounted machine gun or at one point enjoy the destruction of a phosphorus shelled mortar launcher.
In terms of control, the gameplay is relatively smooth, with the occasional difficulties in grabbing a weapon up off the ground without getting your ass shot off. This is due to the time it takes to pick it up in the midst of a firefight which isn’t terribly wrong, but making the wrong move in the heat of a pitched battle can be somewhat dangerous. There are times when even at the lowest level of difficulty the sheer number of enemies that take the field against you can be overwhelming and the AI isn’t as stupid as one might expect. There’s a bit of realism in this despite the frustration it can generate in that you shouldn’t expect to be a force of nature that lays waste to all around you, however when you get killed a couple of times due to these moments, frustration could hit a high level for a while.
Theatre of Operations
Sand choked Dubai is a sight all it’s own as you progress through the world created in Spec Ops: the Line. The visuals are full of destruction, desolation, and death everywhere you turn. Combined with the destruction the player creates all over the city, the environments and scenes themselves is full of the horrors of war and natural disaster. Some scenes during the course of the story have been a matter of controversy and discussion and without spoiling things, I came across more than one that left me either dumbfounded or disturbed. Those aren’t strikes against the game but rather offer a different take than your usual game fun but can generate some thought and perspective on the real horrors of war and what can occur in the heat of a battle for survival.
All in all Spec Ops: The Line while it doesn’t really make strides in overall gameplay, and the multiplayer is fairly standard issue with the usual game modes, customizations, leveling system and the like. Where the game really shines is the story that is compelling, deeper than expected, and twisted in a dark, evocative manner. The gameplay is pretty standard but fairly smooth with transitions between cover and fire, aiming, and grenade throwing working as one might expect. All that said, I can easily recommend Spec Ops: The Line just for the experience of the story alone. This is one title that needs to be played and the story experienced from start to all 4 possible endings if you are a fan of shooters, or just a fan of above average storytelling in games.
“Spec Ops: The Line is a game world and story that should be experienced for yourself, and you may come away with some thoughts and insights you didn’t expect.”
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Update: 2K Games announced on August 21st that a new 2 Player Co-op DLC would be arriving for Spec Ops: The Line that features 4 missions with some unique environments and elements along with some different playable characters. We will update our review with a look at this new DLC soon.