Title: Spec Ops: The Line
Type: Video Game
Released: 29th june 2012
Produced by: Yager Development
Game modes: Single-Player Game, Multiplayer Game
I stayed away from Spec Ops: The Line for a long time, because I didn’t really know anything about it, then long after its release there was a steam sale for 5 euro’s and I had read a few reviews and found them to be surprisingly positive, especially Zero Punctuation. So when I had some time I sat down and played it on Suicide difficulty which is equivalent to Hard. I finished it in one day and it was quite surprising that I just couldn’t let go, but not surprising after at the end though and I’ll try to tell you why.
The setting – Dubai
I went to Dubai in 2011 for a week on holiday and it was like a green oasis in the middle of the desert and with iconic buildings and exuberant luxury. Spec Ops: The Line recreates a fantastically grim version of “paradise gone” in Dubai. A catastrophic sandstorm has buried the jewel of the Middle East under sand and the soldiers trying to evacuate everyone there has been gone for half a year.
It is a truly impressive vista you move around in, from the distant skyline when you first arrive, till being atop the great glass constructions in the center of Dubai. There are so many great scenes, one especially comes to mind when you are walking on the outside of a skyscraper and before you is a valley that has been created by 2 rows of skyscrapers holding back the enormous amounts of sand that has landed on Dubai. The scene is completely enthralling and impressive, the sheer sense of vastness and loss is fantastic.
The story and characters
Going into Spec Ops: The Line I had heard that it was the story that makes this game. That is very true, the narrative is the best I’ve seen in a long time in a Third Person Shooter game. You play as the leader of a team of 3 men from the Delta Forces. An emergency broadcast has been picked up from Dubai and you’re being sent to investigate the fate of the 33rd division. You encounter both soldiers, civilians and rebels who are all in a way fighting each other seemingly. During war a lot of unpleasant things happen and it certainly happened in Dubai and you end up in the middle of everything.
Throughout the game there are some very intense situations and you have to make choices in the moment. You also have the choice in some of them to not do anything and see what happens, though I never let that happen, since you’re afraid something you can’t control is going to happen, it was quite thrilling to experience. Also some of the things you’re doing are really hard to justify and your team members voice their disagreement actively, all the while you keep them going forward, it’s really fascinating stuff.
Also there is a clear development, visually, to your own character and I’ll try not to spoil anything, but it suddenly hits you how your character has changed and that worked really well. I had noticed it, but after some turns and twists it dawned on me, what had changed. Very cool.
There are a lot of great characters you meet and they are all surprisingly deep along with your own character and it’s just such a pleasure to finally have characters that are not just buffed up killing machines, but seemingly self serving or independent people who just want to do what’s right or best for them.
There are many questions that pop up, when you play the game and in the end, you’re left to think about the answers for yourself. I ended up sitting thinking about the choices I made and if they were right. I also pondered on the fantastic construction of the plot.
A lot of people say that the game-play is kinda boring, but I think it worked really well and there story alone kept me hooked along with the ever present lack of ammunition, so I was switching out weapons to keep stocked on ammo, it especially depended on what weapons I could scavenge from my enemies or the caches around the levels. Also the fact that you can sneak around and actually be somewhat silent was great fun!
Why you should play it
Zero Punctuation named it the game of the year of 2012, because it completely changed his opinion of narrative in a shooter game and because it did something new. I very much agree with him on the new expectations for shooter games, it’s a intelligent game that has a beautiful setting and some very cool set pieces along with moral choices that are in gray zones and not just good and evil choices. If you would like to be pleasantly surprised then I can highly recommend this game!