Spec Ops: The Line
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
This article may reveal major plot points, especially considering the game had either been released recently or not in specific countries yet.
Spec Ops: The Line is a 2012 third-person shooter video game developed by the German studio Yager Development and published by 2K Games. It was released in June 2012 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. It was later released for macOS in 2013 and Linux in 2015. It is the tenth title of the Spec Ops series, and the first entry since Spec Ops: Airborne Commando in 2002.
Why It Rocks
- While on the surface it appears to be a third-person military shooter is in reality a deconstruction of the military genre and explores the true of horror of war most games in said genre don't explore. This includes choices on the battlefield, killing of civilians, PTSD, and ect.
- Great story about a Army squad going to look for survivors in Dubai that's been hit with a sandstorm only to find that it itself has become a war zone.
- A great twist that reveals that John Konrad, the man Walker had been searching for, had died before the events of the game and every time he heard Konrad's voice was actually all in his head and his way of justifying trying to be a hero.
- The player can use the environment to their advantage since they can shoot glass from under some enemies feet, cause sand to fall on them, and can even blind enemies with sand by using a grenade.
- The game further enhances the idea of the horrors of war by using choices, something many soldiers have to make on the battlefield. Unlike other games, you don't just a press a button to select a choice, but instead you actively participate in whatever you choose to do. For example, the earliest choice you can make is to kill an American who is acting suspicious.
- The enemies act quite intelligent without being unfair. An entrenched player will get a grenade thrown at them every now and then. Some enemies will suppress you while shotgunners or melee runners will flush you out. If no short range specialists are there, a soldier will move to flank your position while the others continue to suppress.
- The same intelligence goes for your squad-mates. Unlike other games where your allies are invincible and barely help, you can command your squad to attack enemies and your teammates can even go down and die in which you can order one of your teammates to heal the other. Your squad-mates will also notice if you've been pinned down for long enough and you get the option of ordering them to throw a stun grenade.
- Your teammates will also attack depending on whoever it may be as Lugo will snipe far off enemies when ordered and Adams can throw grenades at covered enemies.
- Amazing voice acting with Nolan North, Christopher Reid, and Omid Abtahi standing out the most. Many have even gone as far as to call Nolan's performance of Walker as his best performance yet.
- Great graphics that accurately recreates the setting of Dubai and manages to make you feel like you're walking through a once vibrant city in ruin.
- The game constantly ridicules the player for wanting to become a hero as everything you do shouldn't lead to you being heralded as a hero such as stealing Dubai's water and the infamous White Phosphorus scene.
- The White Phosphorus scene is considered one of the most horrifying and best scenes in gaming. Toward the end of Chapter 8, Walker encounters a heavily defended chokepoint that he and his squad need to get past. Luckily, they gain access to white phosphorous artillery and proceed to bomb their way through. They soon discover, to their horror, that they murdered innocent civilians.
- This scene also deconstructs levels like COD's "Death From Above" level where you control an AC-130 and proceed to bombard people. In this instance, it uses white phosphorus and even has a similar screen like that of an AC-130 screen. This scene shows how horrible it is to do so in reality as you have to walk through the destruction you just caused.
- After this scene, the game starts to take on a more psychological approach with lots of hallucination scenes like when Walker starts to hallucinate a bunch of fire people chasing him, thinking a Heavy is Lugo, and the fact that he thinks he's in Hell.
- Because this happens after the White Phosphorus scene, this has lead many to believe that Walker died in the helicopter crash that we see in the prologue and that the rest of the game is his journey through Hell. According to writer Walt Williams, he believes this is one possible interpretation of the game and the rest of the game is him reliving the results of his actions in a Purgatory like realm. This is hinted, for example, by Konrad inexplicably showing up in billboards as far back as Chapter 1. He stresses that it is just one interpretation, however.
- The game has a number of subtle details that many might miss. This includes Lugo pointing at the camera saying that the White Phosphorus is "your fault", the brutality and aggression in the callouts and executions, and many other subtle details like this.
- The game has executions, which are actually useful and not just there to be brutal or to look "cool" as performing one gives the player ammo.
- There are 4 different endings to the game.
- The first is accepting the fact that you're a terrible person and meet the same fate as Konrad.
- The second is calling for evacuation and going with US soldiers sent to bring you home. The closest to a happy ending.
- The third is being killed by the US soldiers.
- The fourth is killing all the US soldiers sent to help you and returning to the ruins of Dubai.
- The game is only 4 hours long, which is shorter than most military shooters.
- This game comes with a multiplayer something that was outsourced to another developer, believing that the game wouldn't sell without it. Some of the writers have gone on record as saying that they disagreed with this since it goes against the single player.
- It doesn't really make sense as to why Lugo and Adams kept following Walker when there was clearly something wrong especially when it's revealed that the two hanging men were actually corpses the whole time and even features dialogue that wasn't originally in the scene.
Reviews of Spec Ops: The Line were mostly positive, with many critics praising the narrative, themes, and the provocative take on violence in video games, but noted that it failed to innovate or present a strong multiplayer component. Many critics consider the game to be underrated or overlooked. Previews of the game, as well as the game itself, were banned in the United Arab Emirates for the depiction of Dubai in a state of destruction.
- The voice acting was all done in one day to help express how exhausted the characters are.
- The game was banned in the United Arab Emirates for the depiction of Dubai in a state of destruction.
- This is Nolan North's favorite game, which is evidenced by him recommending it on multiple occasions.