“If we don’t end war, war will end us.” – H.G. Wells
These hallowed words by H.G. Wells exemplify just how barbaric and demeaning war can become, and Spec Ops: The Line showcases the aspects of making the hard choices no one else is willing to make. How far will a soldier go to save his squad … or himself?
What Is It About?
Spec Ops: The Line is all about choice, giving players the ability to flesh out the story their own way depending on the decisions made. After a series of sandstorms destroy the once rich and frivolous city of Dubai, the U.S. Army sends Captain Martin Walker, along with his Delta Squad consisting of Adams and Lugo, to Dubai to rescue Colonel John Konrad who was last heard sending out a distress signal.
Konrad, who leads the 33rd Battalion, was sent to Dubai to oversee the evacuation of citizens in the sand-ravaged town. But things soon go wrong and Walker ultimately realizes that every choice he makes, from saving bullets to protect his squad rather than saving helpless citizens, can lead to the grimmest of outcomes. The proverbial “line” in this sense refers to the break of sanity one goes through while battling through war.
The line one must cross in order to fulfill their mission.
Why Should I Care?
2K delivers a gripping shooter with a deep core storyline. While the shooting mechanics are by-the-numbers filler, the story is what will drive you on to the next level. Never has a game struck such an emotional core with the audience and there will be moments when you will question your own decisions as you progress through the game.
The city of Dubai is an excellent backdrop for Spec Ops: The Line, with brilliant lighting and textures that allow you to use sand as a tool for survival. Utilizing your surroundings is a key to survival and blowing out glass windows to dump pounds of sand on groups of enemies is intimately satisfying to witness. Enemies will react accordingly to the environment, sometimes even shooting the ground at your feet to blow up a mini dust storm to blind you.
Dubai is portrayed exceptionally well as a once thriving and pompous city that has been ravaged by nature and the people forced to do whatever it takes to survive in it. Walker and his squad won’t travel to many exotic locations during their mission, but the shootouts on top of skyscrapers, deserts and even helicopters will help keep the pace flowing throughout.
Since your Delta squad consists of only three soldiers, issuing commands for the other two players is sometimes a necessary tactic for survival. Adams can lob grenades at targets you place for him while Lugo can snipe targets from a distance. Both Adams and Lugo can also utilize a flashbang option if you are being shot at, allowing them to stun a group of enemies for an easy escape. Basic combat is as simple as spotting an enemy, running to cover and then shooting them away. But neat mechanics such as the ability to slide into cover while being shot out and kicking an enemy while leaping over obstacles adds some depth to the combat. Walker’s motions are very fluid throughout, with him moving at a brisk pace and the ability to issue commands and shoot enemies very easy to manage at the same time.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
At only six to seven hours, Spec Ops: The Line is a rather short experience, but the story is worth the price of admission. Anyone who has played a military shooter in the past five years will probably guess the big reveal at the end before it happens, but the way Yager and 2K drag you along until that very moment is really well done.
The voice acting also helps lend to the overall shock value of the characters and their actions, with Nolan North (voice of Drake for the Uncharted series) doing a marvelous job of giving Walker the right amount of mental breaks during and after all of the choices in the game. As the game progresses you can hear Walker’s voice crack and become angry from the stress and pressure of the situations, a stunning feat for any actor to truly portray efficiently. The soundtrack borrowed a bit too heavily from Hollywood, with music that seemed ripped straight from Apocalypse Now, but it surprisingly fit well with the events in the game.
There is a multiplayer mode in Spec Ops: The Line but it’s definitely not up to par with the rest of the game. There are a few bright spots with level deformations and the use of some of the ideas that drive the story throughout the campaign, but after a few hours of playing the same basic shootouts and modes over and over again, it became clear that the campaign is the real star of Spec Ops: The Line.
With so many military shooters out on the market that focus more on gameplay and adding new gadgets than delivering a great story, Spec Ops: The Line is a breath of fresh air in an already crowded market. If you are looking for a short but sweet experience that will challenge your own moral compass, give Spec Ops: The Line a look; you won't regret your decision.