June 26th marks the much anticipated release of 2K Games’ hit game, Spec Ops: The Line. This game is a third-person shooter set in the city of Dubai after Mother Nature took a major toll on the once booming city. Dubai had been blasted with powerful sandstorms and the town was left in ruins by the raging sands of the desert. These sandstorms crippled civilization and made the simple standards necessary for living hard to accomplish. The player takes the roll of Captain Walker as he fights to the rim of insanity to carry out his mission.
Spec Ops: The Line can’t be explained simply or in just one word; it is the kind of game that immediately captivates the player, luring them into the unknown and the unexpected. The game cannot be predicted; it is a tale that is impressive, dramatic, sinister, and deranged to say the least but all of these qualities make the story of Spec Ops: The Line all that more addictive. Along with a story that one can’t get off their mind comes a well put together multiplayer experience. Spec Ops: The Line has definitely put together aspects from other games, as well as, new features to make this game be the game that players want to play. It is well balanced and easy to get involved with. With that being said there are a few minor issues that are presented in the game as well as great successes.
The player is placed in the boots of Captain Walker who is in charge of his squad. Their mission starts out simple, after hearing a signal from a presumably dead U.S. Colonel John Konrad, Walker and his men were sent out to extract the remaining forces, Konrad’s men. Of course, the game isn’t played out that easy and the player then gets swept into a world of action in regards to the survivors still located in Dubai, the unexpected sandstorms, battling outlaws, and much more. As the story twists and turns into so many different directions explaining much past what is described above would be considered a spoiler so we have to stop there. With that being said remember this, the game is dark, it can come across very disturbing but at the same time very interesting. On a side note, we do not want to give any spoilers away but the only downside with Spec Ops: The Line’s story was a dull ending. The ending was indeed fine. It just felt like something really great or exciting was going to happen but it ended up falling a little flatter than the rest of the game. One of the main reasons to play Spec Ops: The Line is the insane yet dramatic story but it was felt that the ending kind of left the player wanting more.
The game play of Spec Ops: The Line can easily be compared to game play of most third-person shooters. It’s a run and gun type of game and in there isn’t more to it. However, there are a few aspects when discussing game play that should be brought to every player’s attention. Spec Ops: The Line pays attention to every last detail which was very impressive. Even though the core game play seems clichéd it is the little things that really help this title to stand out from the crowd.
One of the greater features of the game play is that the player is set to be in charge. That means there is no following around AI’s like you’re their puppet because they are the ones following you. The player is put in a position where they are ultimately calling the shots and they even have these slight options to prove the fact that what they are doing in the game matters. Aside from the fact that in the story of this game the player will be forced to make decisions that will change the overall outcome of the story (a lot of replay value with that being said) but there are other parts that continue to remind the player that they are the one that is calling the shots. You can tell your squad which enemies to target, you can change the entire outcome of a fire fight by blasting out a window to have tons of sand fall on your opponents; the decisions are up to you.
Aside from all of that, there are a few slight but positive statements to make about the main menu of the game. Like most titles there is the option to replay levels but the way it is set up is really cool. There is a tiny 3D map of the city of Dubai that shows the players path through campaign and highlights each level that the player can replay. It was nice to see the effort put into making it easy to look at when replaying a level instead of just the usual menu of names and pictures. In the start menu while the player is playing each level it also displays how many collectables are in each level and how many have been gotten. This makes it easy for projectionist to get every collectable without having to use a guide. And the last thing that is small but nice that should be highlighted is the collectables that the player has gotten are also displayed in the main menu. They are all of different things the player picks up throughout the game grouped together in one section near the 3D map of Dubai. It looks like a random assortment of junk but the player can highlight each piece and a nice little audio is played as to why that particular thing is significant.
Spec Ops: The Line features a very interesting multiplayer experience. It is similar to most shooter multiplayer experiences except the execution of this mode along with slightly different features is considered to be very enjoyable. There is the ability to customize your multiplayer characters load out. This includes weapons, armor, class, perks, and even slight changes in appearance. The player can also change the title and badge that they represent themselves with which is predictable. It would have been nice to have the title and badge portion be completely customizable for a greater experience but there is a sleight to choose from which makes it feel a little bit more personal.
Along with the badge and title portion there is also the ability to customize the online character that you play as. Of course, like stated above, there is the ability to customize the weapons and abilities but what was really unique about this multiplayer is that there are ways to customize the look of your online character as well. The way to do so isn’t full of options like we long it to be but making your character look the way you want them to look feels very personal. There are a variety of different options to change the player’s appearance like masks to wear over their face, the look of the armor, as well as the type of camouflage and color of camouflage worn by that player. Not that online player customization should be a selling point of the game but it’s the little features like this that complete the Spec Ops: The Line experience as a whole. Who wouldn’t want to customize their character for online play? Military shooter multiplayer has never felt so personable!
The choice in weapons is similar to that of any other game in the genera except for the fact that the weapons the player chooses to use will level up individually. As the player themselves takes part in multiplayer matches and gains experience points to level up the character as a whole everything that they are equip with is also leveling up. For example, if you are a player who enjoys using the AK 47 as your primary weapon then that weapon will gain experience just as your character does, once you change that gun your character can still be on a higher level but with the change in gun; your new gun will start at level one. This system goes with every customizable option from weapons to armor and even perks.
Spec Ops: The Line features multiplayer playlist like most titles out there. There are a lot of multiplayer playlist to choose from like Chaos and Mutiny but the match that really stole the show went by the name of Buried. Chaos was just the average deathmatch game where the player kills every other player in sight; fast-paced, fun, classic. Mutiny is your average team deathmatch. The player is aided by team members and whichever team has the most kills wins the match. But Buried is different. In the Buried game type players are forced to work together as a team to destroy enemy vital points. Once these points were destroyed it released information on a high valued target that must be eliminated to end the match. Whoever eliminates the high value target first wins the match. With that being said there are plenty of aspect of this game mode to take into consideration that will affect the outcome of the game. This game type integrates both strategy and the need to run, gun and kill which is hardy seen in multiplayer aspects in gaming. When destroying vital points it is important that they only take significant damage with rockets and explosives, however, these points can also be repaired by your enemy. Adding that twist in the game type makes all the difference because the entire round becomes more than just protect and destroy but it becomes about protecting, repairing, destroying and surviving. In the Buried game type the players are forced to come up with a strategy, they are forced to communicate and they are forced to think before moving. It is vital for the player survival and when the players work together is how they will win the match.
The approach they took with Spec Ops: The Line leans towards focusing on the actual player’s skill level weather then giving the players who out rank or spend more time on the game the advantage. The multiplayer portion of the game is surprisingly balanced and extremely enjoyable. It is something that is not intimidating to jump online with and something that the player actually feels themselves getting better at.
Spec Ops: The Line was one of those games that captivated the audience. It winds the player into an unforgettable story that is sure to tug at anyone heart strings. It is an emotional title that not a whole lot bad could be said about. This game made sure to be different, it made sure to put in individual details to make the ultimate experience for gamers and it made sure to do it all in a well executed manner. There are parts of the game that may be too disturbing to some audiences and after all the fast paced twisted game play the ending did fall a bit dull but it really was a unique gaming experience. This game will keep players guessing and interested which is a great reason to want to try it out. Spec Ops: The Line is available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC starting June 26th.