Spec Ops The Line Review

31 12 2012

I know I’m cutting this one close, but I wanted to get it in before the end of 2012. The reason I want to do that, is up until this point, for this year and gaming period, I finally played a shooter game that challenged previous conventions, and had a story that actually made me think about what I was doing.

Originally, when I stumbled upon this game, I played the demo and decided not to purchase it at full price, particularly as the demo wasn’t anything impressive. Upon revisiting the game, and actually playing it, I can tell you it’s well worth your time. Especially if you’ve been looking for a shooting game where you feel mentally challenged. Before I get to the main segment of this piece, let me get a few technical negative aspects that I didn’t like about it first. Naturally, I played this game on PC and the controls do not convert well to a keyboard and mouse. They take some getting used to and there were certain places, or controls, in the game that didn’t function well because of it. If you’re playing with a controller or on console, you’ll be fine and won’t notice these issues.

Now that I’m done with my main complaint, let’s get on to what I experienced while playing through.

NOTE: I will try to keep this as spoiler free as possible, I just want to convey emotions I experienced by certain actions, not give away key plot points.

Moving on, if you are an avid gamer as I am, than you have probably played a fair share of shooter type games, especially as it’s been an industry staple as of late, thanks to the COD’s and BF’s of the industry. Having been playing these games since as long as I can remember, I never once felt regret for having to do something, or any of my actions. The games themselves were usually over accentuated power fantasies, thusly spent the entire game ramping you up to some type of hero or badass to save the world. Naturally, there’s nothing wrong with this, but it’s an old recipe and it’s been done far too many times.

This is where Spec Ops The Line really shines. Personally, if they had removed “Spec Ops” from the title, it would have been better off in my personal opinion, but I digress. Without any specific spoilers, you’re an American Delta Force team sent into Dubai, which is being destroyed by sand storms, to find out what happened to an American Army unit which defied orders and went in to Dubai to evacuate the citizens. Once again, without spoilers, your small team more or less gets stuck right into the middle of a civil war between American troops, CIA, and Rebels.

 

It quickly becomes apparent, that things are not going to end nicely for anyone, but you have a glimmer of hope throughout most of the game of rectifying the situation, but along the way you keep having to make decisions that are hard and feel very wrong, but as they are forced upon you, you literally have no choice but to press on. As your team progresses through the hellish encounters and decisions they have to make, their morale, dedication to the mission, and even physical appearance changes and breaks down. They react to the decisions you’ve been forced to make, which is rare in shooters, as AI teammates usually stay quiet and are hardly ever developed as characters. In this game however, everything starts to become personal for each one of your teammates, and it shows significantly as the story progresses.

I honestly can’t say much more than that, or go into detail, or I’ll be giving up key elements of the story, and nobody hates anything more than a spoiler! I can promise you, however, that the ending will definitely surprise you, and leave you trying to mentally sort all the pieces together. When I was finished playing through, I legitimately felt bad for what I’d done, but I still feel that I didn’t particularly have any choice in the matter at the same time.  A lot of it sums up to a damned if you do and damned if you don’t type scenario.

 

For me, this game was a sign that shooter games CAN be made to send a message and do something more than create a power trip type fantasy. As gamers, we don’t always need the cookie cutter shooter game, with the ever so predictable “Terrorists are going to nuke the world, and only you can stop them” plot line. I also noticed that a lot of ratings for this game were mediocre on most websites. Which surprised me, as game journalism is always crying for the “mature” grown up shooter experience that does something more than feel like an 80’s action movie. This is probably a result of the marketing team which was responsible for getting this game out there, not truly understanding what they had on their hands, but I digress on that as well.

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Perhaps you won’t have the same experience playing this game that I did, but I honestly believe if you are searching for a more meaningful experience in a shooter game, you should seriously give this a shot. It’s fitting, that I publish this review on the last day of the year, as this game is my diamond in the rough, and to this point is the most unique action shooting game experience to date.

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8 responses

1 01 2013
dnasportsandmovies

Game looks very interesting. Better than the recycled recipe of COD

1 01 2013
Randen Dunlap

The core gameplay mechanics will feel a little awkward to static COD or BF players. If you’re used to games like Gears of War, or any cover based shooter, you shouldn’t have any issues. If you’re a PC player, it’s on sale on Steam for $10-$15 at the moment. I highly recommend giving it a go.

11 01 2013
EddysShow!

Wow a lot of information here as well. Its funny to see Steam selling it on PC around $10-$15

12 01 2013
Randen Dunlap

I think I actually picked it up for about $8.00 during the X-Mas sales, but $15.00 is an incredibly good buy for this game. I honestly had low expectations when I purchased, and played through it, but afterwards, I felt it was deserving of the original $60.00 price tag it presumably launched with.

28 01 2013
Old Gaulian

I feel like I should play this game – but don’t feel compelled to do so. It’s a strange situation where even though, from what I’ve heard of the story, I want to experience the narrative, I don’t think i could struggle through middling gameplay to get there. Then again I did enjoy Kane and Lynch 2.

28 01 2013
Randen Dunlap

True, I felt the same way when I originally played the demo, hence why I didn’t purchase it at full cost. However, during one of the notorious Steam holiday sales, I picked it up for around $10-$15 and started playing through. Yah, the cover system can be a little rough at times, especially if you prefer keyboard and mouse.

There were a few moments that felt a little too much like CoD, but overall, the narrative is pretty enjoyable and refreshing. The rest of the gameplay mechanics are pretty smooth, once you get used to the their cover system. It isn’t too terribly long either, so absolutely worst case if you play through and hate it, you’ve only lost about 5-7 hours of your life! 🙂

29 01 2013
EK

Any thoughts on co-op/multiplayer with this one? Or is there that option?

29 01 2013
Randen Dunlap

I was somewhat mislead at first, as it listed a “co-op” but I believe that’s like a cooperative multiplayer/horde mode type thing, I don’t believe you can play campaign with a friend. I’ll have to double check on that however, great question.

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