Geek Game Review- Spec Ops The Line
Last Updated on Friday, 6 July 2012 06:34 Written by Laddie13 Friday, 6 July 2012 11:00
As I write this, American geeks are celebrating the 4th of July. The day America fought and won their independence from Great Britain. Actually the original 13 colonies legally won their Independence from Great Britain on July 2, 1776 but the Declaration Of Independence was finally approved on the 4th. 4th of July celebrations generally involve picnics, fireworks and celebrating our freedom and the brave men and women who fought or continue to fight for this. I have family members who have seen first hand the atrocities and heartbreak that is involved in upholding freedom. I can only imagine but this week I earned even more respect for these brave men and women and it came from an odd source, a video game.
Spec Ops: The Line is a third person shooter based on Joseph Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness just as Francis Ford Coppola‘s epic movie Apocalypse Now was. I think Spec Ops more closely resembles the film but either way the game does a respectful telling of the literary classic. The gameplay itself isn’t groundbreaking by any means and it has a few issues including an at times wonky cover system. The multiplayer isn”t bad, it seems perfectly content just being average. Where Spec Ops The Line excels at is the campaign. It has been one of the best gaming experiences I’ve had with a military shooter recently.
Spec Ops: The Line was first introduced to the world at 2009′s Spike VGA‘s. It’s a reboot of the Spec Ops series that found much success on the original Playstation. However it is not a continuation to any of the previous titles and probably would do better with a different title. Spec Ops: The Line takes place in a fictional version of Dubai. One that has fallen due to a series of sandstorms, the worst in history. Dubai’s elite promptly and secretly evacuated while leaving countless others behind with the assurance the storms weren’t that bad. Meanwhile Colonel John Konrad, a highly decorated but troubled commander of the 33rd Battalion, US Army, was in Afghanistan ready to be deployed home when he heard of the catastrophic sandstorms and volunteered the 33rd to help with the evacuation of Dubai.
The 33rd declared Martial Law whilst trying to maintain order amongst 80 mph windstorms and rioting. Most communication was lost and the 33rd’s last known endeavor was leading a caravan of a thousand plus civilians out of the city but instead went AWOL despite being ordered to abandon the city. The caravan never reached its destination and Dubai was declared No Man’s Land with all travel to Dubai outlawed. The 33rd was publicly denounced for treason and Konrad assumed to have gone rogue. All transmissions from Dubai stopped, that is until a mysterious radio signal was discovered. “This is Colonel John Konrad, United States Army. Attempted evacuation of Dubai ended in complete failure. Death toll: too many.” The brief message prompted the US Army to secretly send in a three-man Delta Force team to investigate. One of which is Captain Martin Walker (expertly voiced by Nolan North) and the character you will be playing as. The rest of your team consists of Lieutenant Adams and Sergeant Lugo. The mission is to confirm the status of Konrad and any survivors then radio for extraction.
This is where the game begins: a small covert team searching the broken beyond salvation city of Dubai with little hope of finding anything other destruction and death. Once the soldiers start getting the feeling someone is watching them you know it won’t be long for the action to begin. Spec Ops: The Line isn’t the longest campaign and depending what level you play it on its possible to finish it in about 6 hours, but don’t let that keep you from playing it. I’m going to be a bit vague in my review because if you haven’t played it yet and are planning to, I wouldn’t want to ruin the experience for you. Often you are presented with moral or ethical dilemmas and more times than not the outcome of your choice is one of devastating proportions. Unlike other military shooters that focus on the heroic aspects of war in a clear-cut story of good vs evil, Spec Ops shows the dark side of war and the psychological toll it takes on the soldiers in a story where it’s hard to discern right from wrong. During a loading screen the game asks “Do you feel like a hero yet?” As the game progressed this phrase somewhat haunted me as I questioned what I had just done.
The sand also plays a major part in either helping or hindering your mission. There are times when you can use it in the aid of stopping the enemy, often it’s trapped in places that a strategically placed bullet will make it rain down on the enemy AI. Other times the sand is your worst enemy like times where you are overrun by enemies and a sandstorm rears its ugly head making it nearly impossible to see your attackers let alone find shelter from the storm. I swear this mission left me squinting at my screen and I could taste sand in my mouth as if the sandstorm was a real. Sometimes I found Spec Ops The Line to be too bright especially in outdoor environments during daylight. When I went to settings to adjust the brightness I discovered a filter in which you can change between vibrant, vintage and default. I liked vintage the best and I don’t know if it makes a difference but I’m playing it on the Xbox 360. Overall the graphics are visually stunning and add to the tone of the story but there were a few instances I thought they could be slightly better.
I’ve only referred to the main character Walker once by name because he ceased to exist for me, I became Walker. I started to doubt many choices I made and while it’s possible to go back and choose another way I stuck with my initial decisions until the end of the game and I’m glad I did. It added to the emotional impact by providing the extra tension of knowing maybe things would have turned out better had I done things differently. I’ve played lots of games in which I had to make decisions however I’ve never felt terrible about myself after like I did in this game. In one pivotal moment during the game you will be responsible for atrocities so heinous that I literally had to stop playing for a moment to process what I had just done. After that the tone of the game goes from bad to worse and the stress starts eating away at you as well as your virtual soldiers. Spec Ops The Line is not what you would call a feel good game, in fact when I finished I was left with an uneasy feeling. The game will make you think about it long after you finish it and it’s one that will forever leave a lasting impression which I’m sure is exactly what the developers hoped for. All in all Spec Ops The Line was an emotionally engaging experience that you rarely come across in games. I’m reminded of the famous last words delivered by Brando in Apocalypse Now which were also Kurtz’s dying words in The Heart Of Darkness, “the horror…the horror.” It’s a simple statement that represented the moral ambiguity of realizing that good intentions are often turned in to something horrible. The horror, indeed.
Spec Ops The Line was developed by Yager Development and published by 2K Games. It’s available now for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.
- OXCGN’s Spec Ops: The Line Review(oxcgn.com)
- Spec Ops: The Line free co-op DLC to launch “approximately” around August(vg247.com)