Monday, January 14, 2013

The first anti-war shooter- Spec Ops: The Line

Spec Ops: The Line is an over-the-shoulder realistic modern shooter.  So yes, there are lots of chest high walls, and there's the usual bloody-screen / health regenration mechanic.  It may seem like just another shooter.  However, the title screen features an American soldier sitting on the ledge of a ruined building, looking out over a ruined city, a tattered, upside-down American flag flying behind him, and a clip of Jimmy Hendrix's distorted "Star Spangled Banner." Immediately, it's clear that this isn't going to be another CoD clone.

It begins with three Delta Force operatives entering the city of Dubai after months of endless sandstorms have buried it and cut it off from the world.  An earlier U.S. military mission to aid the city's trapped residents has not been heard from in weeks, and you have been sent in to establish contact and report back.

What follows is an acellerating downward spiral of madness, cruel politics, tragic mistakes, loss of direction, and all the hell that accompanies war.   There are at least three possible endings.  All of them are appropriate.  All of them make you sit there quietly as the credits roll, absorbing it all.

The story, pacing, music, and voice work are superb.  A touch I'd never seen in other games is that your team's decreasing morale and building exhaustion is reflected in the incidental dialogue and foley, all the "reloading!" and "target in the open!" and grunts of pain when you're hit.  It's subtle, but adds a lot to the emotion of the game.

I have to say the PC controls are clunky, which is typical of a console port.  Hell, they were probably clunky on the console to begin with.  But they're not terrible.  If they interfere with your leet pwnage skills, just set the game to easy.  The reason to play this game not to pwn noobs, it is for the story.


  1. And I missed this game when it was on sale on Steam. Now it's back up to $29.99. :(

  2. It's kind of a tough sell because on the one hand, you probably won't play through it more than twice because it's really all about the story, but not like Mass Effect where there's lots of decisions to make and different... well... orders to do things in. On the other hand, it's a good story, and unique, and deserves attention

    1. But if it's on sale for like $14.99 i'll check it out. I'm the same way with the CoD games, at least I was until they went to pot. The single player is worth like $10, but I don't do multiplayer FPS, so I'm not going to pay $50 for the thing.

  3. I finally started playing this, picked it up on sale (the one Frank missed)! My first impression? It's violent. Definitely R-Rated. It's hard, too - I haven't backed off the difficulty even though the game's suggested it (only once mind!); it was after you fall and lose all your guns, you start out with just a desert eagle and seven rounds. There's probably 15 guys that'll descend on you pretty quick, so you better make those first few rounds count and then leg it over and grab a rifle. You can't take a whole lot of damage - it's the Gear's style gameplay where you regenerate health by hiding behind cover - but this is a rare game that pulls it off, probably because you're either dead or at full health.

    I was also pretty excited that there's a co-op, I'm a huge fan of Rainbow Six Vegas, but it appears to just be four maps not the whole campaign - boo!

    It's been years since I've enjoyed a proper first person shooter, and I second your recommendation.