Five star general of weekend warrior?
This time out here at GGUK we are going to be reviewing a game which was recommended to us, and I don’t just mean the standard PR “play our game” recommendation. No, this was from one of the games developers on Twitter. I asked the question “should I buy Spec Ops: The Line?” and one of the answers I got back was from Jan David Hassel who was technical designer on the game. How could we say no? So with that, let’s see if this is a five star general or just another weekend warrior?
Spec Ops: The Line is developed by Yager Development, is available on the Xbox360 and PS3 and sees you fill the boots of Captain Martin Walker, who is leading a group of Delta Force to rescue a U.S. Army Colonel Konrad, who is in Dubai. Now this is no standard mission as Dubai has been hit by a huge sand storm and has been labelled a no-go zone.
Konrad was sent into Dubai at the beginning of the event with the 33rd Battalion, “The Damned”, to rescue any survivors and get them out. But two weeks into their mission all radio contact is lost and all that remains is a mysterious looped radio signal. It’s this signal that prompts Walker and is team, which is made up of two men – heavy gunner/aviator Lieutenant Adams and Translator/medic/marksman/general pain in the ass Sergeant Lugo – to go to Dubai to find out just what happened to the 33rd and the population of Dubai, and also to find Colonel Konrad, who Walker served with in Afghanistan.
As soon as the team breach the wall of sand around Dubai they realise the massive task in front of them. They find the city engulfed in sand as skyscrapers lay in ruin and City Streets have been totally wiped out. The team enter the city on what was a highway, but has been long abandoned. On the way they find fresh bodies of dead 33rd troops and everything starts to take a twist as it seems that some things are best kept buried.
The Bodies lead them to a huge downed airliner which crashed during the sand storm. The team find a group of 33rd being held at gun point by Insurgents. The team really need to get some Intel on what is going on and what has happened. After a frantic fire fight a Lieutenant McPherson points them to a place called the Nest and it is from here that the campaign kicks off with Walker and his team fighting to get to the bottom of what happened and to try save the people of Dubai, as well as trying to find his old friend.
The campaign clocks in it at around the six to seven hour mark, which is a little short and may put some people off from a full retail price purchase.
Specs Ops is a great looking game and, for a story based in the desert, the are some standout locations you’ll find yourself fighting in. From air roof tops to high end hotels and play pads for the rich and the famous, the game never looks dull. Plus on top of that the true star of the show is the sand itself, not only because it’s all around you but also because of the way it moves and how it affects the game and almost becomes a fourth team member. From fighting in a 80mph sand storm to shooting a window to begin a landslide, it really is a highlight of your team in Dubai.
As for sound, the game also has some great voice acting. Walker is voiced by none other than the legend that is Nolan North, though his mouth is like a broken sewer with his f-ing and blinding throughout the game, So Drake fans may be a little shocked. Another notable name on the roster is Bruce Boxleitner of Tron fame.
The game is a by the numbers third person shooter for the first few chapters, very much like Gears of War with a snap to cover control system and the standard over the shoulder cam. This is all good and works as well as you would expect.
The toys that Spec Ops brings to the table are again your standard array of handguns, assault rifles and snipers with some rockets and grenades. All are fun to use but lack that feeling that you really want, I mean when the gun is popping a bad guys head off, you want a beefy feel, not just so recoil less fire stick.
Where the game really shines is that it has a morality system. Most games that have one are a clean cut affair of you being a cold, hard killer or the world’s true saviour, it’s all very black and white. There are very few games that go near the grey area in-between where your choice isn’t really the best for anyone, and it’s in this area that Spec Ops shines. An example of this is you have the choice to kill one of two men. One man has stolen water to give to his family, the other man has killed the first man’s family to bring him in. Now this is a lose-lose choice, as you’re going to have blood on your hands no matter what you pick, and this is the Spec Ops way. There are no easy choices in the game and every one has an effect on what happens, so much so that there are multiple ends to the story.
It’s in playing out the choices that you’ll really see what sort of person you are. Do you save the few or the many? Will your do the right thing when push comes to shove?
As for multiplayer, it’s a bit of a let down after the campaign. It’s all by the numbers Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch which occurs over seven maps, which are different locations from the baron battlefield that was once Dubai. The sand effect from the campaign also features in the online side, but it’s a shadow of that seen in the full campaign, often only happening in the middle of a raging sand storm. On top of this the modes feature customization of load outs and leader boards, along with CoD style in game challenges. The whole multiplayer side of things is developed as a side campaign that expands the single player story.
Spec Ops: The Line is a surprising game in many ways and as a whole it is a sleeper game which needs to be played. With the summer drought like that of the games’ setting, there is no better time to grab a copy and see what makes it standout for an already packed market. Jan David Hassel was right to say I should play the game. From start to finish, it has a gripping story with great visuals and may just make you rethink your choices.
Ughhhh I’ve got sand in my pants!