Inspired by Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Spec Ops: The Line is a third person military themed shooter whose story and character development outweigh its very generic gameplay. A massive sand storm has ravaged Dubai and U.S. Army Colonel John Konrad and his battalion volunteered to aid in the evacuation. The three man Delta Squad, lead by Captain Martin Walker, are sent to Dubai to investigate after they receive a distress signal from Konrad. The story in Spec Ops starts slowly focusing on developing the three members of Delta and setting up the plot. Then things start to spiral out of control as you watch these characters deal with the horrors of war and the consequences of their actions. This focus on a mature, grown up story is a breath of fresh air for this type of game. There is no global threat that only one super soldier can resolve, nor is there a clear binary moral dilemma. There are only difficult decisions that you are forced to make while trying to maintain your humanity.
In terms of gameplay, Spec Ops is a nothing special. It is a perfectly competent shooter with some odd control issues. You can make Walker can go into cover with one button but must press a different button to vault over it. Yet the button to vault over cover is also used to melee so there are times when Walker will simply stand up and hit the wall (if Walker actually takes cover as you have to hit it on an near direct angle). Spec Ops does do some interesting things. Walker can give orders to his squad to make them more effective in combat. While this certainly isn’t a new idea, there are occasional sandstorms that make it impossible for him to shout out orders forcing you to adapt in the situation. There are opportunities where you can shoot weak, sand filled structures to dispatch enemies or destroy their cover provided you have a strong enough weapon. Just when you are used to the enemies and their tactics, a heavy weapon expert, or knife specialist will come in and force you to quickly adapt.
Spec Ops also has competitive multiplayer and, while it has some entertaining modes, feels completely unnecessary. It’s pretty standard in its approach, with customizable characters, perks, and unlockable weapons, but the control issues prevent this mode from standing out. It’s ok but come to Spec Ops for its story.
In all, Spec Ops: The Line, while not perfect, is a decent shooter with a very entertaining story and is recommended for at least a weekend rental. It’s available for XBox 360, Playstation 3, and Windows PC.
image via Daxgamer.com