A sequel to the Spec Ops series in title only, Spec Ops: The Line set out to create something different. Yes, it is yet another 3rd person shooter in the middle east setting, but with this venture developer Yager attempted to push the narrative and cross certain “lines” (pun intended) with player’s perceptions. But did it succeed?
Spec Ops: The Line follows Delta operators Walker, Adams and Lugo as they head into the storm-ridden and war torn city of Dubai. The team comes across a rogue group of marines attempting to quell the remaining population. The story twists and turns and even gives players some minor choices throughout the 8-10 hour campaign.
What the game does handle well is exposing the horrors of war. There are scenes so shocking, I found myself looking away from my TV. Videogames in general have become very exploitative lately, so you might assume this is done simply for shock value, but the developers surprisingly handle the topics pretty well. They create gray pictures of some of the tactics often used during war and leave it to the player to determine their moral necessity. The story itself isn’t going to win the game any awards, with it’s fairly rote plot-line, but it takes you on a fun ride, asks intriguing questions and even throws in a well played out twist in the end. Simply put, what could have been handled poorly and cheapened the game, actually comes off fairly well.
Spec Ops: The Line is a competent, if uninspired, 3rd person cover based shooter. It gives you limited ammo, occasionally-destructible cover, and a “sand-as-a-weapon” feature that should have worked better than it did. Frankly all the pieces are there but they never elevate the rather mundane “go into a room, clear said room, lather, rinse, repeat” gameplay. The limited ammo does keep you from holding down the trigger and challenges you to plan your attacks and shots accordingly. The much touted sand elements, where you can shoot out glass windows and send in floods of the grainy gold stuff to bury the enemy is underutilized. However, the game does throw you into sand storms a few times which limits visibility and adds some variety and challenge. Mix in the tight controls, on-rails helicopter sequences, and a few differing enemy types and you get what you expect – a fun but only adequate shooter.
Let’s just get this out of the way, yes Nolan North does a voice in the game. As expected he does a great job as do most of the voice actors and considering the attempt to add weight via the narrative, that is no small accomplishment. Likewise the sound of things like gunfire and the impacting boom of the sandstorm really draw you into the experience.
On the graphics side, Spec Ops is neither beautiful nor ugly. The developers were smart to adapt the Unreal engine so as to not employ the overly glossy look – it is a desert after all. And they intelligently used some of the texture pop-in issues as part of the story telling by having it load in as you regain consciousness. That said, the game is fairly drab and brown most of the time throughout. You do get to see some nice colors of glass panes but they are usually drowned out by the onslaught of khaki colors everywhere. Again, not terrible but it’s nothing to show off your new HDTV with.
I struggle to put a rating number to Spec Ops: The Line. On one hand it succeeds in areas that other games don’t even attempt to tread. On the other hand, it’s simply a military 3rd person shooter with kill rooms you are asked to clear.
Overall Spec Ops is good shooter with a serviceable story that asks some very compelling questions and offers some great twists. It may not wow you in the graphics or gameplay department but it still deserves a play-through from anyone who hopes to see a different take on story telling. You will be challenged in the moral arena if not in the gameplay.
I’m giving it a 3 out of 5 simply on it’s gaming experience as a whole. If you want something more from your games, bump that number to 4 and put it up on your list of games to play this year.
- Asks great moral questions
- Voice acting sells the dilemma of the game
- Brown, brown, brown
- Only mediocre shooting gamplay
- Not enough variety in enemy types
Powered by Facebook Comments