Spec Ops: The Line Review
There was a point in gaming where you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting a military shooter. The Call of Duty train was roaring and it felt like every developer was trying their hand at a military shooter. That’s why when Yager Development released Spec Ops the Line I felt no excitement for it. No one was talking about it, and I never saw a commercial or ad for it. The game didn’t sell well and for me at least, it was lost in the sea of mediocre military shooters. About a year later steam was having a summer sale and Spec Ops the Line was being sold about $8 so I said “what the hell” how bad could it be.
Spec Ops the Line starts with a huge bang. The players helicopter shoots past the menu screen and before you know it you’re in the thick of it blasting down enemy choppers while taking heavy fire. Eventually your bird gets blown out of the sky and the game quickly cuts to to an earlier period. The player takes control of Captain Martin Walker. Him and his team, consisting off First Lieutenant Alphonso Adams and Staff Sergeant John Lugo arrive in Dubai after a major sandstorm has eviscerated the city. The teams mission is simple, find any survivors and learn what happened to the missing evacuation team led by Lt. Colonel John Conrad.
From the get-go Spec Ops the Line feels different. There is a sinister mood the game evokes and at first I couldn’t quite figure it out. On the surface it looks no different than the countless 3rd person shooters but stick with it and you will see that Spec Ops the Line may be familiar but the journey is like nothing that came before it. Spec Ops is dark, depressing, and shocking. The story quickly turns horrific in way I wouldn't dare spoil for anyone who hasn’t played it. It takes familiar tropes of the genre and uses it against you, not the characters in the game but you, the player. It will force you to do horrific things than make you question your morality. This is only exemplified by the absolutely stellar talent of the voice cast. Nolan North plays Captain Martin Walker and he brings such intensity to the roll it’s a crime no one talks about it. North is backed up by some amazing talent as well, Christopher Reid, yes from the 1990 comedy house party, plays Lt. Adams and Omid Abtahi plays Sergeant Lugo. Both bring an equal amount of intensity to the roll and really knock it out of the park.
The game is also visually stunning and a sand covered Dubai is an excellent back drop for a video game. Dubai is known for its luxurious structures and seeing them all here but destroyed and abandoned will often times send shivers down your spine. The game ran smoothly and I had no technical difficulties. The one issue I did have was with the loading times though. Maybe it was just me but I had some really long loading times and later in the game when the action gets crazy you will die a lot and having to sit through a minute loading screen really killed the mood for me sometime.
The gameplay for Spec Ops: The Line is also stellar, if not a little familiar. At its core the game is a 3rd person, cover based shooter with simple squad commands. But just because its familiar doesn’t mean it bad. The shooting is intense and there is a wide array of weaponry for you to use. The A.I is also impressive, they always put up a fight and will keep you scrambling. The squad commands though are basic and ultimately I don’t feel like they ad to the experience but luckily if you don’t feel like using them they could be ignored completely. Another small issue I had was that I was always running out of ammo, you can pick up enemy weaponry like most games but I occasionally found myself running out of ammunitions only to be left with a gun not suitable for the task at hand.
There is absolutely no reason anyone interested in action games should not try Spec Ops: The Line. The gameplay is tight and fun and the story will crush your soul in ways no other game will. Don’t let the militaristic and generic exterior of this game stray you away, this game is special in every sense of the word.