Spec Ops: The Line is an intriguing game. I can say without question that its story surprised me and left me thinking afterwards. You see, you aren’t trying to stop a global nuclear threat or [insert any of the thin and predictable plot lines you see in most shooters nowadays]. Instead, the developer, Yager want you to feel something about the choices you make. They want to get into your psyche and mess with your feelings. The journey Spec Ops takes you on is unlike anything I’ve played before and left an indelible impact on me.
Heading Into Battle
In Spec Ops you play as Captain Martin Walker, voiced by Nolan North, because, of course he is. Capt. Walker is tasked with leading a small Delta Force until in search for a missing Colonel and his troops who’ve gone off the grid in Dubai after the city’s been ravaged by a massive sandstorm. Quickly after landing, Capt. Walker and his soldiers are attacked by local insurgents.
And from there the plot goes in a direction that I didn’t expect and with that, forced me to think about the choices I had made. This might very well be the best single player campaign I’ve played all year in any game just from the story perspective. It’s that good.
Most shooters have you feeling daring and heroic, not thinking about the repercussions of your actions and the effects. Spec Ops, however, presents us with the repercussions of taking lives, the lives of innocent civilians and even American soldiers. It’s not just that the plot is good, but it’s how the game leverages the medium between Capt. Walker and the player that’s excellent. The take on military life that’s presented makes you feel responsible for the actions you’re committing as Capt. Walker. And that is a remarkable achievement.
The gameplay is Spec Ops weakness. Over the course of about a 5-6 hour campaign, the game never shifts from a third person, cover based shooter. If you played Gears of War then you know what I’m talking about. Buttons are about what you expect on the 360, LT to aim, RT to fire, a button to throw grenades, run, cover, etc. They just feel rather poor, since certain buttons do opposing actions. For instance, the B button is used to jump over barriers as well as melee, so when you’re trying to run for cover as you’re one shotgun blast to the face away from death, you may mistakenly hit an enemy and end up get killed and starting from a previous checkpoint.
The A..I. is top notch though, as Walker’s two squad mates respond well to commands, you tell them to go kill a guy a bit closer to them, and they’ll do it, but if you tell them to kill a guy far out of their reach, they’ll most likely get taken down. So if they ever get killed, it’s definitely your fault. Enemies respond just as well, they’ll even try to surround you if one of your AI teammates get taken down as you try and rescue them.
Multiplayer isn’t remarkable in the slightest. Objective based modes, unlockables and all that are there, but since I found the controls to be a problem, playing against others felt largely rudimentary. It’s not terrible by any means, but it just felt very mediocre.
Spec Ops: The Line is one of the best shooters I’ve ever played thanks to its engaging story, which after all is said and done will most likely have you compelled to play the campaign again. While the MP isn’t as involving as the SP, and the understably missing co-op mode, the SP is truly astounding and makes up for the game’s other shortcomings. It won’t invoke the feeling one gets from playing Call of Duty or Halo and that’s the point, it’s not trying to be any of those games and it feels fresh and unique because of it. Spec Ops is one of the best games I’ve played all year and one you should definitely check out.