Spec Ops: The Line

The horror…..

Spec Ops: The Line (which will be referred to as Spec Ops from now on; fuck colons! (not as in intestines, but as in punctuation)) starts out as a military-themed Gears of War. Then it soon adds on a wrecked and sand-strewn sort-of-future Dubai, and a US army platoon hiding in there that has gone rogue. You play as Captain Walker (voiced by Nolan “Ubiquitous” North), who is taking his two Army dudes into Dubai to see exactly what the fuck is happening in there.

For the next few hours, the game will bash you over the head repeatedly with a baseball bat with Apocalypse Now or Heart of Darkness down the side of it, depending on which version of the same story you prefer. In amongst all this, you’ll find a few other factions that are involved with the story, but that’s all bullshit really. Ignore the story, and force yourself past the first few hours of samey, boring duck and shoot.

After a few hours in, you’ll start to realise that Spec Ops is actually being waaaay more clever than the game’s lacklustre gameplay would let you believe. What the game is here to do, and what it does superbly, is take everything you do in the usual “shoot brown people in the face” simulators (Call of Field, Medal of Duty, Battlehonour, etc), and make you think “actually, what I’ve been doing in these games all this time isn’t really very nice”.

Usually I’d go “here’s the good stuff, and here’s the bad stuff”. Honestly, I can’t bring myself to do it here. Sure, the shooting is rather lacklustre, and can drag on a bit. Sure, there’s the odd ridiculous difficulty spike. But by Christ and his holy titties, this game has a story that, although it’s been done in film and in novel, it’s not been done in a game. The way it is presented here makes it so much more effective. If I had the money, I’d buy everyone I know a copy of this game, and I’d pay for them to take time off work, and they would have to finish it. And then they’d hate me for it, in a good way. And it would be worth it.

I’ve never seen a game do the things this game does, and I’d happily pay for Yager and 2K Games to do it again.

Oh, and the soundtrack? You won’t believe just how fucking good it is.

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