Spec Ops: The Line Review

It is quite appropriate that Spec Ops: The Line lends both fonts and HUD stickers from Gears of War. After a sexy menu that inflates a weeping Hendrix version of the Star Spangled banner, the game’s first sequence is a tower section that looks, sounds and feels like Epic’s billion-dollar juggernaut.

This identity crisis continues throughout the seven-hour campaign. Sometimes Spec Ops: the line shows real promise, almost bravery, and yet it always comes back to me-Too mechanics and homogeneous Gameplay tropes. If this game was less confident about who he was or what he was trying to be, it would be the protagonist, Captain Martin Walker, a man sent to the stricken Dubai to rescue Colonel John Konrad and the rest of his 33rd battalion. And this is a man who soon loses his sense of what is true, false, real and imaginary.

It is significant that I have had to look up Walker’s name about five times since I started Spec Ops. This ship cut by the crew, moderately beautiful, Caucasian, Nolan North is both completely memory-free and the most important thing in the game. It’s his story, which is sometimes bold, memorable and completely surprising, but it’s also his video game, a fairly low-key Gears clone with some sophisticated tricks in the sandy Sleeve.

Disconnected from context and separate from history and context, Spec Ops: The Line would actually be quite difficult to recommend. While striking, cover capture and grenade throwing work perfectly, bad enemy AI and heavy script addiction leave it far behind Gears of War and Uncharted. However, this attitude is brilliant. Dubai has been finished by angry sandstorms, and when Walker and his two onlookers friends, Adams and Lugo, arrive, they have already begun to tear themselves apart.

Battalion took the city and is waging a war with a civil rebellion led by the CIA. But more immediate is the devastation itself. Giant hotels are encrusted in hundreds of feet of sand that can be used in action (break the right window at the right time and you’ll drown your enemies in this stuff), and time can change in an instant (well, a Scripted Moment), creating visually captivating strikeouts where you action against orange silhouettes in the swirling sand.

Just as Dubai is broken and falling apart, so is Walker. Through a series of increasingly difficult and unpleasant situations, his grip on reality and the actionfield breaks away and turns Spec Ops: The Line into an almost surreal and foggy journey. There are some seriously strong things here, things that make the infamous no-look of Modern Warfare 2 quite tame. Sometimes Spec Ops is a dazzling ride.

There are also moments when the Action flies; harsh strikings taking place in a breathtaking environment, while classic ‘ 70s Hard Rock cracks from a distant PA system – when Spec Ops is on The money, it really finishs it. Too bad, then, that he suffers from the same problems of narrative dissonance as North’s other famous role; unexplored. strikeouts are frequent and long, and they finish hundreds or even thousands of enemies throughout the game’s Finale. Seeing a three-man team pull out a Battalion is not uncommon in video games, but if the story and setup are grounded in reality and carry such Gravitas, it’s distracting and a bit annoying when everything suddenly turns Rambo 3.

The same review might be leveled about Gears, but it succeeds because it’s all nonsense-from the ridiculous physique of your team to the relentless explosion of history. Spec Ops is broken and separate, and I don’t think it’s a conscious reflection of your protagonist’s mental state. The main reason to continue is then this story. While the dialogue is too heavy and the banter is low, there is a real understanding of how attitude and character work well to create a video game narrative here. You always move, you always look somewhere new and often breathtaking, and the Character Arc makes sense. It may be a Heart Of Darkness elevator, but it’s an elevator that’s made solid and admirable. And as much as I hate to say, this is a very good performance for a video game. Especially a marksman.

So it’s a shame that Spec Ops: The Line never fully engages with its ideology and relies on Standard Gameplay mechanics and prolonged strikeouts. It’s great that Yager gave us a story worth talking about, that has a voice and a concept, but all of those things exist regardless of how the thing plays rather than influencing it.

The opening levels are fun and exciting-controlling Walker and his two-man team almost looks like classic freedom wrestlers forgotten by iOS-everything has a kind of featherweight, and enemies stumble, turn, and even collapse when they fill them with dusty lead. As the story progresses and intensifies, it feels more and more separate from the plot. Where the game can take risks, how it plays (and that’s what it does in a few very minor matter), it seems much more acute when you see how many sections of revolvers can be forced into a level before their Pad breaks down into a thousand parts, interspersed with long strikeouts against laboriously silly enemies.

Curiously also Spec Ops: the line is better played on something other than the standard difficulty. The simplest mode allows you to break through the story and enjoy the true strengths of the game without Frustration, while the “hard” equivalent makes the action at least stressful and tense. Unfortunately, this Stress and tension will soon give way to Apathy and remorse, because they make the grenades forget. YAGER’s decision not to include a “Roll” command is delinquent at the border.

This is a problem that also penetrates the competent but forgetful multiplayer. Here you can enjoy the superficial mechanics of the game against others, but separated from the gravity of the single-player story, it is difficult to recommend. Standard Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch are connected by a mode in which you eliminate enemy structures to reveal a high-quality target. That’s a good thing, backed by the Perk system that allows you to Buff near Squad Mates, but not something that will make actionfield, Call of Duty or Gears shake in their Jackboots.

The same can be said for Spec Ops: the line as a whole. There’s a lot to talk about and think about when you play, a lot of imagery and allegories, from September 11 to the current conflict in the Middle East, and there’s a glimpse of the Magic when the team takes risks with the Gameplay and it pays off, but they’re all too fleeting.

Yager should be admired for his courage and effort to build something else – it could have been a very general marksman-but he just doesn’t have the foundation to support his big ideas, or the confidence to go completely off the wall and really stand out from the crowd.

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