One of the biggest problems most developers possess when trying to break into the industry is how to differentiate themselves from what has become the norm. How does one hope to compete with Triple A games such as Gears of War or Uncharted that have indisputably perfected and forever changed how third-person shooters are played. Instead of trying to re-invent the core mechanics, YAGER Development directs it's focus entirely on story-telling and the results are well deserving of recognition. But how does the game fair as a whole?
At first glance, Spec Ops: The Line appears to be just another generic military shooter boasting a slightly different setting and the more than familiar macho military men capable of taking out entire armies by their lonesome. While part of that remark rings true, thankfully the other doesn't. Spec Ops manages to differentiate itself from other shooters in the same genre by focusing on story progression and character development, constantly treading the line between morality or the lack thereof. It begins on a sane note, strictly adhering to a military code of locating survivors and safely evacuating whoever is left alive, but it quickly becomes a story about discovery and vengeance. You'll constantly find yourself intrigued in regards to what may have happened in the worn down ruins of the once great city of Dubai and the pacing of the story will keep you hooked in until the controversial finale.
Although the story does flow around a levelled amount of pacing, the fashion in which it follows this might become slightly repetitive. For one, the game is strictly a linear with very little to no exploration given. There might some extra corridors or open fighting grounds to explore after a battle in hopes of scrounging up some of the game's bone-chilling collectibles which boast voice narration from the game's main cast, but besides that, don't expect to truck through the sand engulfed skyline of Dubai. It's becomes clear very early on that the developers may have lost out on a valuable opportunity to showcase the strength of the engine they're working with and better utilize their resources for a more enriched world begging to be examined.
As stated before, Spec Ops does very little to differentiate itself from the pack in regards to it's base experience as a cover-based shooter. Sadly, it's here that the game truly does drop in quality. While you won't have too much trouble adhering to the controls, it's still the weakest part that the game provides and one that should arguably be it's strongest suit as a standard third-person shooter. Weapons rarely ever provide a powerful punch when in use and it's hard to tell whenever you land any meaningful shots. On the plus side, YAGER does introduce an interesting and cool feature that slows down time to indicate whenever you land a headshot. Besides that, the weapons are your standard fair that you always see in modern military shooters and nothing here will be engaging outside some missions in the game where you take control of a mounted gun on a helicopter or ride the side of a truck while wielding a grenade launcher.
Spec Ops does make up for it's losses with it's absolutely spectacular visuals and stellar voice acting. Nolan North himself voices the game's lead character; Captain Walker and he provides a fantastic outlook on a man bridging the line between right, wrong and who truly is in possession of sanity. The rest of the voice cast provides the same as friendships are tested and the morality of decisions is constantly questioned in the midst of a devastated warzone with no hope in sight.
One of the most and disappointing additions to the game is it's multiplayer. Not all games require a multiplayer component and it's a fact that becomes painfully evident here with Spec Ops: The Line. It's something that feels unbearably rushed, with little adjustments done to actually make things flow well in regards to the online stability and the same bland gameplay seen in the single-player makes it's way here. It's a mostly infuriating experience as you struggle more often than not to conquer the poor controls than actually defeating your enemies.
Delivering an interesting twist in story-telling with a different setting to boot, Spec Ops: The Line becomes something interesting and easier to recommend to those desiring a fun romp in single player rather than multiplayer. Despite the fact that the multiplayer was a wasted opportunity, the pacing of the story coupled with the brilliant voice work makes Spec Ops worth checking out.