Spec Ops: The Line Review
*Note: This is the old type of review with criteria
Spec Ops: The Line is a third-person shooter video game developed by Yager Development and published by 2K Games. The game was released in North America on the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 platforms on June 26, 2012 and in Europe on June 29, 2012. It was officially announced at Spike Video Game Awards on December 12, 2009. Although in the Spec Ops series, The Line does not take any story elements from previous titles. The game follows Captain Martin Walker (voiced by Nolan North) as he is sent into a post-catastrophe Dubai with an elite Delta Force team to hunt for a decorated officer named Colonel Konrad (voiced by Bruce Boxleitner), as well as evacuate any survivors. While lead writer Walt Williams has stated that there are many influences that have gone into the plot, the premise is inspired by Joseph Conrad’s novella. Multiple critics have positively observed similarities to Apocalypse Now, an adaptation of Heart of Darkness, in the game’s feel and expression of no glory in war.
Early on we got to see some footage of Spec Ops: The line. You can see that footage below. From the gameplay video it looked like the game had a lot of potential to be a very dynamic and fairly fast paced gameplay. After playing the demo, you already realized that it was more a cover first and shoot second type of game. The pacing is very sporadic throughout and unfortunately the twists and turns within the story don’t help. It’s not that the game isn’t fun, it’s just repetitive. The main concept is cover, shoot enemies (hordes of them), and move on. If you try and run and gun you will die, even on easy difficulty as the difficulty only changes how much damage the enemy does to you, not the enemy AI. That is, every bullet they shoot seems to hit regardless of difficulty. Overall the gameplay has it’s issues but is fun for a one-time playthrough.
From the gameplay that debuted the graphics looked impressive from the get go. That includes the looks and feel (physics) of the game. However, after playing the game it seems that it was all smoke and mirrors. The game looks great but has a lot of texture pop-ins. As far as the physics go, you can’t shoot just any windows to create a deadly avalanche of sand. Instead, there are times throughout when you are basically told to shoot the window as that is what the objective calls for. Seldom can you shoot a window and create a sand avalanche without first being prompted to. Overall the graphics are impressive but definitely has its faults.
While Spec Ops mainly takes place in a thought to be deserted Dubai, there is a lot of gameplay inside of buildings and on top of them. The environment does make you feel like you are in a big desert at times while at other times you feel like stuff is randomly placed for your perfect convenience to hide behind. I am all for cover but a lot of the time the cover just feels like it was placed there and doesn’t fit in the environment. The best examples are inside where every building seems mostly in tact but there are tables and chairs and couches turned over which make them perfect to take cover. Again the large issue is that without taking cover, you die…fast. The design of the characters and weapons do look pretty good and feel good too. Overall the design isn’t bad but it feels fake sometimes.
One place the game definitely shines is sound. Nolan North is an amazing voice actor but you do get a sense that it’s Nathan Drake you are playing as and not Martin Walker. Even still, there are little bits of random dialogue that help keep things fresh and entertaining. Nothing to the extreme of “Kitty got wet” but hey it is still Nolan North and he does a great job. Also, the ambient sounds and weapon sounds are pretty good. The different weapons sound and feel a lot different which is a good thing. One thing to note, nothing is more satisfying taking a sniper and hearing the sound of a head exploding on impact from a headshot. Overall the sound isn’t bad but the weapons could use a little bit beefier sounds.
Spec Ops: The Line leaves a lot to the imagination. Almost too much though. After playing through the campaign I was more relieved it was over then anything. With all the twists and turns in the story it was so hard to follow along that I had to force myself to finish it. You feel like mario but the princess is in another castle every time. After the last cut scene I looked at the screen and pretty much thought…what the heck. Still, you should rent it and play through it once but I don’t see much reason to go through again other then trophies/achievements. Also, there is multiplayer but it felt more tacked on the anything and isn’t all that popular.