Spec Ops: The Line Review

Spec Ops: The Line
By Janus 32
PS3, XBOX360, PC

 
Introduction

From out there stories of space aliens and sewer monsters and teenage mutant ninja turtles to whatever else you can think of that is imaginary, games were stories that were of the mind’s imagination. But moreso with the release of the next generation consoles, not only has violence, dialogue and graphics improved but realism is a hard factor that is pushing game companies to instill the notion into the players of today.

Realism that in a situation, like war, its not just making orders and everyone speaks elegantly or pollitely, war is war. Profanity will be thrown and soldiers will express anger if they are given an order that could potentially kill them.

But with the idealogy that games were supposed to be of the imagination that humans cannot achieve like having Jedi Powers and turn into a green monster just by being angry, is realism the right choice to go for games?

 
Story

Dubai is a rich country. Everyone knows that and everyone is fine by it…

Until several dust storms engulfed the rich city and declared it “No man’s land” and all travel by anyone was barred. Though in the midst of the chaos before the city was completely engulfed by sand, an american batallion unit by the name of the 33rd Batallion of the United States Army led by Colonel John Konrad, volunteered to help in the relief efforts while en-route home from serving in Afghanistan.

But as the storms had begun to intensify, martial law was implemented in Dubai and chaos intensified amongst the citizens and military personnel.

The last known trasmission from the 33rd Batallion was that they would lead a caravan of survivors out of the city and get them to safety.

But nothing came to fruition.

No survivors, no caravan of people came out of the city.

Publicly, the 33rd Batallion were disavowed and branded as traitors.
Several weeks later, a looped transmission is picked up on the airwaves and considered as a distress signal by the man himself, Colonel John Konrad.

The main protagonist of the story and players will be controlling in the Campaign Mode. Delta Force: Captain Walker voiced by the talented Nolan North

2 weeks pass and a three man Delta Force team are sent in covertly by the United States Army to assess the situation on a reconnaisance mission.

Their orders are simple.

Assess the situation, then extract for debrief.

 

 

 

 
Gameplay

Its a bit hard to say how the game’s layout for controls can be actually user friendlly. Like riding a bike, shooting a gun, talking in front of a crowd that one has never done before, its hard at first and as time goes by then it becomes alot easier. But the controllers layout, which was played on a Playstation 3 felt awkward all the way when playing through the campaign mode. So lets tick off the basics to a shooter, the grenade button, firing, crouching, prone, aiming its all there.

“You RUINED my goddamn sandcastle!”

What was a miss was the melee button and sprint. When I mean miss, I’m not stating that they are missing from the button layout, but they are a miss because they double up on buttons contextually and are awkwardly placed. Sprinting does not feel fast at all, and its one of those buttons that you do not have to hold down, you tap and go. Again this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but as a ‘cover based’ shooter like the Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon franchise, sprinting is unadvisable in a firefight. The melee attack button is on the circle button on the PS3, and in this day and age, thats awkward. There were a few times in the game where I did die or get heavily damaged due to melee attacks and i wasnt fast enough. Comparing to again, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon:Future Soldier, the melee attack was on the reload button, which was square button on the PS3 controller. Though contextually doubling up on a button, it requires less than fraction of a second to push then having to go for the circle button in Spec Ops.

Though this could be a minor issue for some players, it made some impact on myself. But alas, the campaign slates at about 8 hours, give or take lesser depending on what difficulty you have chosen. The gameplay honestly isn’t new but it is in a different world, a real locale and a glimpse into a believable story. But other than that, ‘it is what it is’ as much as I hate that phrase, a cover based shooter.

Though the gameplay has some great AI who are brutal in ways to flank you and outnumber you all the time practically 3:1, you’ll always be scrounging for ammo and different weapons and weapons a plenty to choose from. Rifles, pistols, revolvers, shotguns, heavy machine guns, sniper rifles, the works. Whatever you pick up can be used against your enemies. Just mentioning the weapons and the AI is just a touch on the level of detail 2KGames has brought to this title. Even the sand looks real in which your character steps in is and its astounding how they have also used the idea of sand as a weapon.

Having the high ground in an abandoned Dubai shopping mall

One key aspect of the gameplay is to make some very hard decisions. Though the decision making isn’t a newfound gameplay aspect, but its more accentuated in Spec Ops:The Line. It’s more grittier, its more realistic and it has heavy consequences. These decisions are not game changers per se like Resident Evil 3 or the Virtua Cop arcade shooters that you had to chose one path or the other. But they do, depending how you take seriously, put you in a situation that if you reflect deeply can be a potentially real life situation and outcome and can weigh on you afterwards. It can be a choice of morales, between saving which lives and whether to kill or just go around without killing just choosing the ‘lesser of two evils’ as they say.

 
Presentation

Yager Development and 2K Games have done an outstounding job in terms of the presentation of Spec Ops: The Line. Not alot of companies, at the time of this review, can make sand ever so real. Though powered by the Unreal Engine 3, the graphics engine has not disappointed. Graphics wise its very red and has the sandy pallette that is Dubai. Character models, sound and overall graphics is sharp and detailed.

But the main points that make this game as a standpoint is the way the story is told from the campaign mode. Spec Ops has always been a very gritty franchise. Always has it not strayed from realistic situations and the language especially in this latest instalment is quite adult. As players will progress through the campaign, they will witness a transformation from the characters that is not fiction in the slightest. And this attention to detail is really impressive to see. Especially as the characters that the player will experience with, as briefly mentioned earlier, will have to make hard decisions that will effect the story and effect the atmosphere.

Fireworks?…No. Something so much more deadlier, so deadly..that it burns

No doubt Spec Ops: The Line is not a game for children, it has very coarse language, and very graphic scenes of violence and death. Its a hard hitting game with very powerful images that can leave a lasting impression long after you have finished the game.

Final Comments

Spec Ops: The Line is a very mature game. It has come through on the prospect of many third person shooters being released these days. Fighting amongst the games of today to be the best, its hard and unfair to compare but it has to be done. Spec Op’s is a great experience, a different and hard hitting experience, but an enjoyable one.

 
Get it
Rent it
Forget It

 

Rent it. The game has a great feel to it despite the inconsistencies that was mentioned about the button layout, and its very hard hitting in its content. But the game lacks a good multiplayer and as these days go, multiplayer assists in the longevity of a video game, and multiplayer did not deliver, though its campaign mode does shine tremendously.

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