2K’s latest military shooter doesn’t provide easy answers – and makes for a gripping game.
With war, no answers come easy. An enemy’s motives may not be what you think, as he or she may merely be protecting their family; but on the other hand, someone’s decision could be fueled by the fact that something’s just not right. With Spec Ops: The Line, the long-awaited third-person action shooter from 2K Games and Yager, this feeling really seeps in as you, Captain Walker, and your fellow team members investigate goings-on in Dubai, trying to locate Colonel John Konrad and his fellow members of the 33rd U.S. Battalion.
It sounds like a set-up for a routine action game, and, at first glance, it seems that way. But as you play through Spec Ops, you begin to realize that this is just a smaller part of the picture. When Konrad, who vanished with his Battalion months ago, is heard from again, it’s through a distorted audio transmission that indicates something is off. Walker, who refuses to believe what happened to Konrad, heads out to investigate, only to find his team plowing head first into trouble, not only with local mercenaries, but U.S. soldiers.
To give away any more of the plot would ruin the experience that awaits you in Spec Ops: The Line, but let’s just say it delivers more emotionally than any Battlefield you’re likely to get your hands on. In fact, the last time we felt anything this gripping in a video game was back with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, between the first-person execution and the harrowing feeling of a post-nuclear assault. But Spec Ops goes deeper than that, as you actually feel the effects of each decision Walker makes. Not everything is so cut and dry – even when you think a choice is for the best, it isn’t entirely so.
This gripping set-up is on par with Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness, really making you take in the feeling of war. And while not everyone will be prepared for that, fans of the genre owe it to themselves to play through it twice, just to see where your moral decisions lead you.
The gameplay backs up the plot to a degree, with plenty of third-person shooting and the ability to command your squad mates to take out targets as needed. There’s plenty of action here, and it’s quite satisfying, though not everything is faultless. The cover system needs some work, and too often your AI partners will fall behind when you need them. But otherwise, it’s solid, and gives you opportunities galore for head shots.
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