Video Game Review: ‘Spec Ops: The Line’

By Jordan Zolan

Jun 27, 2012 7:00am
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Spec Ops: The Line (Credit: 2K Games)

With so many shooting games inundating the market, it’s sometimes difficult to find a standout.  Between the “Modern Warfare” and “Battlefield” series, gamers have had their fair share of modern-day war games. “Spec Ops: The Line,” is the latest entry into the genre, and tries to bring players into the chaos of a world torn apart. There are some highs and some lows, but overall, it’s an enjoyable experience through and through.

The game throws players into a post-apocalyptic Dubai, after a series of devastating sandstorms have turned the once-vibrant city into a wasteland. Months after the devastation, your team, led by Captain Martin Walker, has been sent in to find Colonel John Konrad and the rest of the 33rd Infantry, who went off the grid after being sent in as relief effort.

Players soon learn that the 33rd has taken over the city and imposed their own brand of martial law on all who remained. As you search for Konrad, your team slowly puts together the puzzle of what exactly has been happening, and who can be trusted in this no man’s land.

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Dubai Has Turned Into a Wasteland (Credit: 2K Games)

Personally, I love any kind of post-apocalyptic story line. That’s probably a bit morbid to say, but it’s fascinating to see the different kinds of worlds that are created after a cataclysmic event. The world that the designers at Yager Development have created is a sight to be seen. Massive skyscrapers are covered in mounds of sand and debris. Downed planes, buses and cars litter the landscape.  They make an eerie,  bleak environment.

The first time I stood atop a massive sand dune looking down on the devastated city, I was genuinely taken aback. To see such a landscape plunged into chaos sends chills down your spine. Others might disagree with me, and that’s OK, but I for one felt, as surveying the land, a great sense of hopelessness and anarchy. Although not a sandbox game by any sense of the word, I wish I could walk around and explore every inch of this new world. It’s this setting alone that sets “Spec Ops: The Line” apart from other shooters.

The game play in “Spec Ops” isn’t anything that will change the way shooters are done, but it holds its own. Since you are in a wasteland, ammo and guns aren’t going to be as plentiful as in other games. You may run out of ammo and need to pick up arms of those you’ve just dispensed with. You’ll have your usual assortment of semi-automatic and automatic weapons, sniper rifles, handguns, rocket launchers and grenades to help you through your mission. To be honest, I didn’t see a real difference between one machine gun to the next. I usually used whichever weapon had more ammo.

There is a level of environmental interactivity that adds some fun game play into the mix. For instance, if you’re being overrun by an opposing gunman, and can’t seem to fend them off, simply shoot out the massive window behind them and watch as tons of sand pour through and wipe them all out in a wave of awesomeness. Other times, you’ll have a gunman shooting at you from the ceiling of a dilapidated old hotel. If you look closely, that gunman is standing on a glass plate that can be shot out from under his feet, sending him falling to the floor blow.

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Shoot Out the Glass to Get the Upper Hand (Credit: 2K Games)

The two other members of your team have a decent level of artificial intelligence and will help you out of a jam by throwing flash grenades or killing a few soldiers here and there. As seen in the recent “Ghost Recon,” they’ll come and heal you if you’ve taken on too much damage.

Admittedly, a large portion of the game has you taking cover behind pillars and walls fending off wave upon wave of enemy fighters. It gets to be more of the same at times, but I never once felt it was boring or tedious. Ever since “Gears of War” successfully introduced the whole simultaneous hiding and firing feature, I feel a lot of shooters have done the same thing. “Spec Ops” is no exception.  Even the tossing of a grenade is similar to “Gears,” but it works, so who cares.

As players advance through the game they pick up intelligence that reveals more of the story and what exactly is going on in the city. Players eventually have to decide how much violence is necessary to complete their mission. Morality plays a role here, and after a while, knowing whom to trust is just as hard as whom to kill.

“Spec Ops: The Line,” is a highly enjoyable game, one that makes a mark in an already overexposed genre. Out of all the recent shooters that have come out in the last few months, this one has made the most positive impression on me.

“Spec Ops” is available for PCs, the Xbox 360 and the Sony PlayStation 3.

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