In a market completely oversaturated with modern military shooters, what would make 2K’s Spec Ops: The Line stand out? On the surface, it seems like your cookie cutter third person shooter: You run to cover, pop up and shoot guys in the head with your carbine. And generally there’s some villainous militia leader who’s threatening the free world, right?
In truth the game is far from your average 'save the world' shooter story. The protagonist isn't exactly heroic and there’s plenty of difficult choices to be made.
Developed by Yager, Spec Ops: The Line is the first title in the Spec Ops tactical shooter series after a ten year hiatus, and reboots the series with a brand new setting and plot.
If you’ve played third person shooters before, The Line’s gameplay is pretty straightforward. You use the A button to sprint and take cover, the left trigger to aim and the right trigger to shoot and use the left and right bumpers to command your team and throw grenades. Although you can give orders to other team members and can shoot out objects to bury enemies under a pile of sand, these moments feel very, very scripted. I really wish Yager emphasized more on tactical gameplay in this, rather than scripted sequences and having you run from Point A to Point B while taking cover in between. We’ve done that one too many times and I just find it exhausting.
The highlight with the Line however, is its interesting plot, which draws inspirations from novels and films like Francis Ford Coppola’s classic Apocalypse Now.
After a series of sandstorms strike Dubai, Col. John Konrad volunteers his U.S. Army battalion, the “Damned 33”, to help with the evacuation of the city. However the situation becomes awry when the 33 fail to evacuate the city’s inhabitants and are seemingly swallowed up by the intense sandstorms. Delta Force operator Martin Walker and his two other team members, Lugo and Adams are sent in on a reconnaissance mission to find out exactly what happened to the Konrad and his men, but soon find Dubai in disarray with the 33 gone rogue and the locals attempting to fight back.
I won’t go much further into the plot as not to spoil anything for you, but let me warn you a lot of f^cked up sh^t happens in this game. The deeper you get into the story, the less you feel like a hero. There are several situations where Walker is forced to make difficult decisions, and these decisions ultimately affect his other team members and Walker finds himself slowly descending into madness.
Nolan North provides Walker’s voice and while it feels a bit like Nathan Drake, I found the quality of the voice acting in the game to be exceptional. The part that certainly got my attention was how the dialogue slowly shifted from the beginning to the end of the campaign, where Walker and his team’s dialogue change from calm use of military jargon to essentially using the F-Word in every single sentence.
Powered by Unreal Engine 3, the Line has some pretty solid graphics and a lot of the in-game cutscenes , most notably the facial animations, look amazing. However the animations look stiff at times and some of the explosions and other effects look completely unimpressive.
There aren’t a lot of reasons to go through the Line’s campaign more than once, other than searching for intel pieces scattered around each chapter that provide a bit of background history to Konrad’s character and context to the situation in Dubai. I haven’t touched the multiplayer but it has your standard CoD-esque leveling and perk system, and it looks really rough and mediocre.
Spec Ops: The Line has your generic third person shooter action but provides a very interesting narrative that’s hard to find in other modern military shooters. There are no heroes in Spec Ops: The Line, and if you want a unique experience with a 3PS then I suggest you pick it up.