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Spec Ops: The Line
Spec Ops: The Line

PC | PlayStation 3 | Xbox 360
Genre: First Person Shooter
Developer: YAGER Official Site: http://www.specopstheline.com
Publisher: 2K Games
Release Date:
29th June 2012
Spec Ops: The Line

Genre: First Person Shooter
Developer: YAGER
Official Site: http://www.specopsthe...
Publisher: 2K Games
Release Date:
29th June 2012
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Spec Ops: The Line Review
Review By @ 12:05pm 27/06/12
Dubai, playground of the world’s rich elite and stopover destination for anyone wanting a glimpse of this extravagant lifestyle. Once hailed an emerging business hub in finance and real-estate and number one tourist destination for many, now a literal desert wasteland and a buried city.

Continued catastrophic sandstorms, bringing millions of tons of sand into Dubai city, have forced anyone with a means out and far away and left those remaining with little hope. Efforts to evacuate are coming to an end, but one has refused to wind this up, staying on to continue, US Army Col. John Konrad with his Damned 33rd.

This is where you come in. Captain Martin Walker is called upon, with two others from his Delta Force team, in a last ditch search and rescue effort mission for Konrad, who, until the recent discovery of a distress signal, was perceived dead.

Seems pretty straight-forward for someone of your capabilities and experience, get in with your team of two, find Konrad and any of his remaining team then get out.

Dropping in on the outskirts of the city, you come across the obvious onslaught of what appears to be outlaws, probably forced to attack as a means to survive. You also unexpectedly find some of Konrad’s Damned 33rd, slaughtered and left to rot.

At very first glimpse controls, cover and shoot mechanics seem pretty standard. But this first skirmish proves Spec Ops offers somewhat more dynamic controls as well as interaction and utilisation of your now sand-weighted environment. Prompted from the get-go to use this altered environment in combat over individual takedowns, you are then thrown into the dynamic run, vault, slide-cover and slide-out controls. Not to mention an iron-sightt mechanic that is intuitive to maneuver, with minimal tweaking, even on long distance targets.

This opening segment also sets a tone for some of the environments you’ll come across, but is still merely a taste. A bright, sand covered expanse, vehicle ruins peppered along what perhaps used to be a highway. Either way it leads you into Dubai, and closer to Konrad’s distress signal - you’re only objective.

As you progress closer to the signal and uncover more objectives, it becomes clear this isn’t going to be a simple search and rescue mission. CIA involvement creates more confusion and Konrad’s motives to stay behind as well as his mortal state come into question.

Progressing through a range of modern day accurate weaponry gives you a wide choice of assault rifles, SMGs, light machine guns, sniper rifles and hand pistols as well as some turret interaction. And although ammunition is scattered strategically, it still remains scarce throughout, so use wisely.

As you close in on Dubai city the environment progressively becomes more and more impressive. Due to sand piling you may enter a building not knowing what level you are on, only to come out the other side into a huge expanse with massive drops, overlooking parts of the remaining city. This not only looks amazing, but provides a wide diversity in battle scenes, from hotel lobbies to rooftops, bars and gymnasiums, all before you reach the old ground level of Dubai, cluttered with a range of sports cars, buses, trucks, army vehicles and containers. At any given time this sand build up creates pressure points you can burst and windows can offer additional damage. Visually this creates some amazing scenes, through destructions and light flares, making positioning combat ever more important.

The environment is also often times quite open, but in a thoughtful way, giving you plenty of options for attack and to experiment with cover and progressing forwards, or flanking - a big component when with faced with a turret or bombarder. And be sure to look for any environmental elements that may be destructible, it may not be clear but if you can hit this it could save you a lot of anguish (and precious ammo).

Grenade throwing proved to be a hit and miss for me. While the mechanic works well when in cover, I didn’t find it transferable to non-cover combat, which is possible on a minor scale. Considering how dynamic other movements are, it would have been nice to see a dynamic grenade action, with a cooking possibility. The crouch mechanic also unfortunately seemed redundant and only there for show, as seen when you crouch behind cover as opposed to still having to get into into cover by tapping A and didn’t really serve any sneak or stealth purpose.

Combat difficulty edges more towards realistic, where any prolonged exposure puts you at risk of an instant death, either from a gun burst or from flanking. Calculated shots are a necessity all throughout the game and enemy grenade barraging forces swift cover change as well as accurate enemy disposal.

Unfortunately at close range the enemy AI seems to respond quite differently, giving you a lot of time to take out a close range enemy. This is somewhat offset by the unbalanced hip fire accuracy, both a bit frustrating, but definitely not a major downside, where so much else is done right.

Commanding your team adds possibilities such as direct and synchronised take-outs or flash bang deployment, giving you more depth in attack styles. You are also faced with the choice of acting yourself or to command your other team member when one of them is injured, sometimes forcing you to change cover and react with precision in battle.

While a Spec Ops game, The Line is independent of previous storylines. As you get deeper into Dubai, and the story unfolds, you really see this game offers much more than a glorified kill fest. Inspired by Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness novella, the game progressively explores “The Line”, that fine line in war between a mission and duty. Your actions begin to be questioned by your team and sometimes yourself, where the importance of the mission and the depth you’ve reached are the only factors keeping anyone going. At times you are even given a choice of what “path” to take, bearing moral implication and sparking disagreements within your team to arise more and more. The devastation reaped by sticking to the mission comes up again and again, at times giving you such an uneasy feeling you almost want to change what you’ve done.

With obvious nods to Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now (another interpretation of Heart of Darkness), propaganda is also tapped into occasional radio broadcasts, clearly from someone sympathetic to whoever you’re after, directed at you and your team in an attempt to constantly demoralise and mess with you. An impressive soundtrack is also picked up when passing radio setups, with the likes of Deep Purple’s Hush and Jimi Hendrick’s Star Spangled Banner both making appearances.

All of the aforementioned is a welcome addition to both fans of the genre and those new to it. With a shift away from clear-cut good and bad, Spec Ops challenges the sympathetic grey-matter with highlighted gaps between ‘killing machine’ and morality lessened as you tread “the line”.

Online multiplayer will offer team-focused traditional matches as well as a unique mode, all in the desert environment featuring sandstorms and sand build up environment interaction - all of which we’ve covered previously, but was unfortunately locked out of our review sessions.

Available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC June 29.
What we liked
  • Deep and engaging story line
  • Great setting
  • Tactical combat situations
  • Dynamic controls
What we didn't like
  • Grenade mechanic
  • Melee combat can get a bit messy
  • Loading each intro scene upon restarting a checkpoint
We gave it:
Latest Comments
Posted 01:41pm 27/6/12
Co-optimus recently reported that they're planning now to add co-op as a free dlc shortly after release. After thought in other words. Anyhow, I'll wait this one out till it drops sharply in price because its just another stupid story centric game. If I want story I'll read a book.
Steve Farrelly
Posted 02:16pm 27/6/12
Can you interact with, and change the outcome of, your book?
Posted 02:31pm 27/6/12
Those Choose-your-own-Adventure books were pretty badass
Posted 04:29pm 27/6/12
Can you interact with, and change the outcome of, your book?

Ever heard of white out and pens?
Posted 12:07am 29/6/12
I can interact with microsoft word, does that make it a game? Games that are so story centric as so many are these days are just novelists cashing in on the gaming boom. You've got to learn to see through the smoke and mirrors. Games are and always have been replayable with constant if not more enjoyment with each replay. Story kills that.
Steve Farrelly
Posted 10:58am 29/6/12
Give me an example of a story-centric game you think was ruined because of its story. And seeing "through the smoke and mirrors" is such an odd statement. Thousands of games over the past 20 years have had great gameplay, plenty of replayability AND story. It's ridiculous to make a sweeping statement that any story immediately kills a game.

Titles like BioShock, Dead Space, Batman (Arkham series), Half-Life, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid (Prime series), Mass Effect, Fallout 3, The Elder Scrolls, Assassin's Creed, Splinter Cell... f*** there're just way too many to even list, and I was just plucking from games of the last few years that stand-out as exampled of games with great story and gameplay.

It's definitely one thing to simply not enjoy the story part of a game (trog doesn't care for them), but another to state that it outright ruins them.
Posted 11:11am 29/6/12
I for one dont care about the story in games. I skip every dialogue sequence, cut scene etc apart from ones that you cant skip. Only time ive paid attention to story was both Batman games. I dont find story kills anything, it just takes away from the action for me. This is the reason i dont play RPGs or dialogue heavy games.

However, i very rarely replay a game because i find it boring and less entertaining than the first run through. Only a few games like dead space 2, fallout 3 and diablo 2 have i tried different attempts to experiment with different weapons / characters.

So while i pretty much hate story, i also hate replaying most games and dont think there is much of a connection between the two.
Posted 06:04pm 29/6/12
Fallout 1/2 had good stories I give you that but it was the game mechanics that make it fun not the story. Half-life 1, yes that is about as close as I am willing to go to say that a story has actually added much to the enjoyment to the game. I hated Bioshock and Fallout 3 and the others I didn't waste my time on. The best a story can hope to achieve is to keep up with the mechanics of the game that actually provide fun if not then they're just like some d******* at a dance ruining it all for everyone else.

I find it ridiculous to even consider that stories are a core component of a game. They're little more than the skirt on a chick you want to f***.
Posted 06:29pm 08/7/12
Amazed that this storyline hasnt enraged the main stream press (or the part that picks up on these things), "no russian" is very tame in comparison.
I guess if it was a larger release...
Theres basically no button it doesnt push which should be ripe fodder for anti-game media, kill civillians? Yep. Kill American soldiers just doing their job? Yep. Be gung ho and wade in with nfi whats really going on? sure thing. Bad guys are americans "peacekeeping" in a foreign country. etc
Posted 07:54pm 08/7/12
Been playing this. Skipped every cutscene possible so NFI whats going on story wise.

I dont mind the grenade mechanic although it is kinda noob and wastes time in the heat of battle.

AI a bit dodgy and happily run into fire instead of taking cover.

Good variety of weapons and low ammo has you constantly changing guns.

Dislike the bunching of controls on PC - sprint+use+something else all bound to one button instead of 2 or even 3.

As always, dislike the third person view but im a FPS fanboy so thats just me.

Overall its a decent shooter but nothing spectacular. Standard cover and shoot gameplay. Worth getting when on sale IMO.
Posted 08:31pm 08/7/12
Skipped every cutscene possible
Really no point playing this game then, may as well play any other fps, as story is pretty much the only thing that sets this apart.

Had a couple of decent set pieces, the mouse aim felt a little off for me, low fov as console ports usually have was annoying, some of the guns were satisfying.. headshots with that 20 round mag gun you get later in the game were good... but yeah the shooty/cover bits were pretty average/standard and nothing stand out.
Posted 08:55pm 08/7/12
Wow, so it has come to this, people complaining about good stories in games. If your small, roided up, testerone flooded minds can't deal with a good story, why not just stick to multiplayer where theres nothing to get in the way of all the shooty shooty action you so desperately crave? Whats the point in playing a single player, story driven game and then boasting how you skip all the story bits like its something to be proud of?

As a medium, games offer a way to tell a story like no other medium can, and personally I want to see more of this not less (as I would imagine anyone who isn't a meathead would). I'm sure it wont infringe on your action, I'm sure they'll still be making COD games well into the future so you can continue to 0wn b|tch3s, but its just stupid to write off games that have story and then suggest its somehow a bad evolution in games. Thats like saying every movie should be a Michael Bay style explosion fest and theres no room in the medium for films like the Shawshank Redemption. Talk about being small minded, grow up.
Posted 09:18pm 08/7/12
Comprehension fail khel, congrats.
Posted 09:48pm 08/7/12
How can a good story in a game ever be a negative thing? To me a good story is a plot that makes sense, appropriate motivation for the characters, realistic dialogue, consistent tone, characters you care about etc etc etc. These things can only add value to a game.
Posted 09:55pm 08/7/12
I agree with fpot. While i dont care for the stories in most games and prefer to skip to the action, there have been a select few games with well implemented stories that ive paid attention to (fallout, batman, bioshock). And while i skip most stories, its not because i think stories in games are a bad thing, im just not a fan of them. Its purely a personal preference. Some people love story heavy games like RPGs while others like action focussed games. Each to their own.
Posted 09:56pm 08/7/12
He didn't say a good story is negative, he says he always skips the story so its basically moot. (for him)

I can understand that, even if i don't agree with it... but then playing something like this which is only an average game without taking the story into account seems a bit pointless. (that said i play a lot of crap games too when bored)
Posted 10:14pm 08/7/12
I was talking more about what tvcars said.
Posted 10:28pm 08/7/12
I can interact with microsoft word, does that make it a game? Games that are so story centric as so many are these days are just novelists cashing in on the gaming boom. You've got to learn to see through the smoke and mirrors. Games are and always have been replayable with constant if not more enjoyment with each replay. Story kills that.

Holy s***.

1) If you have ever held a job, then yes you'd find that you can make a game out of interacting with s*** in word. It's even enjoyable. Indirectly mind you, it's not the literal pressing buttons (which is identical to what you do in a videogame mind you, press buttons and see things happen) it's the outcomes you create from writing and changing things.

2) Smoke and mirrors, what smoke and mirrors? The literal special effects, the thousands of man hours of effort in coding and play testing a game? A writer doesn't go make a game, a developer does with help of a publisher. The developer says "I like X" then they publisher goes and says "I think that's a good thing, ill secure rights for you to use that give you a budget and then you can create that game". So no, the smoke and mirrors are what you see. What you think is wrong and you should feel wrong.

3) Stories often do get better after multiple readings. That's the thing, comprehension. Something I'm wondering if you actually managed to pick up during your english classes at school. Reading words and putting things into one nice neat box is all well and good, but when you delve deep and comprehend not just the main point, but side points, quips and underlying messages you can really understand something and it can be enjoyable. Donny darko was a movie which took me 3 times to really wholey grasp. First time thorugh i just thought hey a kid can see through time and now can save kids and people from terrible things they do in their town. Then a few times later and much back story reading i figured out how the whole wormhole mechanism was a real theory, and a bajillion other side things. Even books, when i read them at the age of 13 or 14 when i re-read them when i turned 17, i realised there was a whole lot more depth when i wasn't just reading the storyline, but the sideplots and ideas things which subtly showed through.

So yes, a story can get better after re-reading. And many games do too. You think RPG's get hundreds of hours of playtime because they're less good the more you go back to play it? If that was true people would just give up after a couple of hours and just play the next game.

What you say is purely your opinion and nothing that lies in fact. There's nothing that you said that holds any rule of thumb, or idealistic truth, just you spouting what you like in a way that sounds like it should be what we all should like. Well for me, you're wrong.
Posted 01:32pm 11/7/12
Just finished this and i now realise why Bah was so excited about the story. Good Game reviewed it last night and they also commented about how powerful the story is. Although i skipped the cutscenes, i enjoyed the ending and after a quick read of the wikipedia page to understand it, there appears to be some alternate endings and i was quite impressed with the ending considering how bad stories normally are in shooters. Im pretty sure that the background of the menu changes as you progress through the game's campaign which was pretty cool. So although this starts out as a pretty bland shooter, stick with it if your after a game that challenges the morals presented in many shooters.

As mentioned in good game, i also really liked how you were presented with moral choices a few times in game game. I didnt even realise i had a choice most of the time and instead just reacted.
Posted 02:24pm 11/7/12
Story is good if you have time. Generally after work my brain is so numb that I don't take in the story anyway.

However I think what everyone really wants to know is when the results of the competition are out so that I dont have to make the decision of to buy of not to buy.
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