I’ve played a few third person shooters recently, and have surprised my self by enjoying them all. Spec Ops The Line is no different in the enjoyment and basic gameplay. It is however vastly different to anything I’ve played in terms of the story-line driving the game, and the way your character develops throughout the game.
The premise for the game’s storyline is inspired by Joseph Conrad’s novel, Heart of Darkness, which takes a look at ‘the unfathomable darkness within every human being for committing heinous acts of evil’.
Essentially the game starts out as a rescue mission, searching for the remains of the 33rd Barralion of the United States Army, who went missing in Dubai after it was destroyed by a massive sandstorm. You play Captain Martin Walker, who along with Lugo and Admas are a Delta team sent in on a recon mission, to find survivors. However, you make contact with a group of insurgents and after a brief fire-fight discover the mutilated remains of some members of the 33rd. Things aren’t looking up and the game starts to head down the revenge path slowly but surely.
After battling the insurgents for a while you soon discover that the 33rd have gone rogue and that the CIA have their own interests in keeping what happened in Dubai, in Dubai. Things get complicated and pretty soon you’re not sure which side you’re actually on, and you’re just shooting people to stay alive.
Things get more and more desperate as you progress, giving this modern shooter a distinctly anti-war, anti-violence feel. Progression also affects the way your character feels and acts out in the cut scenes. It’s not a nice transformation.
As you progress through the game, you’ll occasionally see the bad guys you’ve just shot moving around and moaning, walk close enough to one of them and you’ll be given the option to execute them. Given that they’re dying a slow and painful death, the red button execute option seems like the humanitarian option. The trouble is that by the time you get to the point in the game where you’re zip-lining between buildings and you have to knock a guy to the ground as you land, then when you walk over to him, you’re so accustomed to executing people in need of a painless end, you automatically hit the red button and it’s only when your two squad mates start yelling at you that you realise that you just killed an unconscious, non threatening enemy combatant. Then you start to think about all of your actions in the game that have lead you to this point, and you actually start to question your motivations. It’s here that the games apparent morality system kicks in with a disturbing feeling of reality. I’m not sure that there is any way I could have played the game differently up to this point, but it was scary to discover how easily I took this one life.
Surprisingly though, retrospective contemplation doesn’t rip you away from the fun of the game, mainly because the pacing and story-line is so well directed. The contemplation will come later however, after you’ve finished the game.
Graphically Spec Ops The Line is nice, with some very enjoyable death physics for your enemies, and the occasional moments of imposed bullet time as you score a nice head-shot.
The game has a huge amount of twists and turns and a few ‘what the’ moments, that all get wrapped up nicely in the end.
As a tactical, squad based third person shooter, Spec Op The Line is a little short on tactics, but still gives you a few options, including some very nice ‘interact with the environment’ options from time to time.
If you’re looking for a solid modern military shooter experience, with a nasty contemporary twist, then Spec Ops The Line is for you. Make sure you sit through the credits however, else you’ll miss the real ending of the story, one that will test just how far down the rabbit hole you’ve descended.