Spec Ops: The Line’s nothing short of a great game, if not something of an enigma. The story, combat, dialogue, and characters we’ve all seen before, but never together in such a smart package. When you throw all of these things in a blender, you not only get Spec Ops, you get a solid third-person shooter like few others.
The game starts off with a clichéd group of soldiers who wind up in a bad spot. They end up making a bad decision and find out that everyone in Dubai isn’t so keen on following orders. You play as Captain Martin Walker, a character I can’t say is the best I’ve ever encountered. However, he does come along as you progress through the story and evolves from being just another dude-bro to someone relatable. He makes one bad decision and all the doors after that lead to even worse circumstances and along the way, he’s only doing what he think’s best, but just can’t seem to make things right.
The game does a great job of staying realistic, especially in its character development. Dialogue simulates how it would actually be during war, and finding out all of the horrors of Dubai creates real shock for the player, as well as the character. The way this is presented makes everything very believable, especially the character’s reactions to certain events. This makes everyone more relatable and adds to the overall narrative of the game.
Even the gameplay adds a good bit of realism to the mix, giving the player the option to shoot out walls or windows that may lead to sand coming in and stunning or even killing your enemies. Also, the game uses very cool mechanics such as throwing a rock to fool your enemies into believing it’s a grenade. This tactic may be able to draw them out of cover for a split second.
The game’s realism doesn’t inhibit gameplay, though. Some of the decisions you are forced to make during the game are harsh and totally gray moral dilemmas. There is no right or wrong, and you honestly don’t know if what you’re doing is a good or bad thing. This is one of the only games I’ve ever seen that can pull this off with such grace.
Another cool feature that Spec Ops introduces is the feeling of belonging to the enemies and firefights. This is the only game that I’ve ever played where I felt like the enemies had a place and were there for a reason. They were there because they were based there, or perhaps they had a mission to accomplish. For once it didn’t feel like the enemies were put there because developers made them there—as if they only existed to be filler so you can have something to do.
The firefights have real meaning and are able to invoke relatable feelings of regret for killing fellow rouge American soldiers. After every battle, you feel as though it was significant and you regret having to kill your former brothers in arms, but you know that you must walk the proposed moral line and try to do what is right in Walker’s mind.
As far as controlling the game goes, the controls feel pretty smooth, except for the occasional time where Walker is sprinting to cover and stops mid sprint despite the fact you’re holding the button down. More often than not, this will cause you to get mowed down by a soldier in body armor. The game does a fine job of introducing the command features, these allow you to have your squad fire upon and suppress enemies for you. This is very helpful, especially on the higher difficulties.
The multiplayer for Spec Ops: The Line’s fairly forgettable and there isn’t much to mention here. You have your standard multiplayer modes, and the ones that are innovative just aren’t that fun. The multiplayer feels much like Dead Space 2’s did—it isn’t that great and you won’t stick around for it or remember it, at all. Mostly, this mode feels a bit tacked on and lacks the real inspiration that the single player possesses.
Spec Ops: The Line is a good game worth experiencing. It isn’t going to absolutely blow you away with graphics, gameplay or narrative, but all of these areas are done very well. Any shooter fan should definitely check this one out for a bit of variety. It’s a very short game, so be wary before your purchase, but the replay value is very high and you shouldn’t worry too much as this game will provide plenty of entertainment.