Last Tuesday, 2K Games’ Spec Ops: The Line was made available for free for PlayStation Plus subscribers. When the demo for the game released shortly before the game did last year, I really enjoyed it and thought the shooting itself was just about perfect. I raved about the demo here, and Brian gave it a good score here. Unfortunately, I never got around to getting the game, but I immediately jumped on the chance Tuesday night when the PlayStation Store was updated.
My first playthrough of the game ended Wednesday after probably six or seven hours on Suicide difficulty. By the end of Wednesday night, I had acquired all but two of the games trophies (MFIC and obviously the Platinum). I started my second playthrough on Thursday, on FUBAR difficulty to try and get the last trophy. Saturday afternoon, I wrapped up my second trip over The Line and acquired the Platinum trophy.
I’m not much of a trophy hunter really. I’m level 14 on PSN with a little over 1,600 trophies and nine platinums. If I really get into a game, and the trophies don’t seem like they’ll be frustrating to get, I’ll attempt to acquire them all. I’m not a fan of online trophies though, and so I’ll never platinum some games (like my favorite of the current generation, Red Dead Redemption). Other games are just not worth the time.
Still, after recently getting the platinum trophy for InFamous 2 (which was easy), and acquiring all but one trophy for the platinum for Spec Ops: The Line in one day, I just had to attempt another playthrough on FUBAR. For those who aren’t familiar with the game, FUBAR is the hardest of the difficulty settings. It’d be the equivalent of “Insane” or for us Uncharted fans “Crushing” (although FUBAR makes “Crushing” look like a walk in the park), and it’s only unlocked after you beat the game on Suicide.
Now I’ll admit that I hate when games try to make you play through it a second time on a difficulty that only unlocks after you’ve already beaten the game on the hard difficulty. It’s stupid, and since I’m not a trophy hunter, I don’t even attempt it for most games (like I said, I have to really like it… like the Uncharted games, which I’ve platinumed all of three of, which isn’t really hard to do).
In regards to Spec Ops and getting the platinum for it, I have to say that FUBAR was really frustrating. At the same time, when I finally killed the last guy at the end of Chapter 14, I was super thrilled. Beating it on FUBAR actually seemed like an accomplishment, which something that honestly can’t be said for most video games these days (and no, I don’t play Call of Duty games and thus won’t be attempting “Veteran” difficulty).
I do think Spec Ops is one of the finer shooters, in terms of pure gunplay. The enemies aren’t bullet sponges; they go down quickly (as do you). The bullets themselves even sound, and in a way “feel,” like they’re making an impact when they hit someone. As I did with the demo, I really, really love the shooting in this game and think it just about perfect. Of course that just makes the issues with the controls all the more painful though, as the game could have been even better if not for poor control design (X for cover and sprint, and it’s super easy to either get stuck in cover or not go into cover when you’re trying too).
To be honest, FUBAR wasn’t that bad for the most part. I like to think I’m pretty good at third person shooters; they are my favorite types of games and my bread and butter. And when shooting works this well, the game isn’t that much of a challenge against AI.
Most of my deaths were either caused by the game or growing frustration, which always leads to mistakes. Some of them though were just because the AI was really good and did things I wasn’t anticipating at the time. It’s easy to die because you didn’t get into cover when you hit the button, or when sprinting to cover, or because your arm was in the air when you were blind firing from behind a sandbag. Even worse is when you die because one (or both) of your AI buddies gets shot down and are nowhere near cover.
There were only five or six spots that really gave me troubles in my FUBAR playthrough: Chapter 6, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 13, and Chapter 14 (a couple of parts here, actually).
I made it to Chapter 6 on Thursday afternoon after flying through the first five chapters relatively easily. Chapter 6 gave me fits and I had to turn it off for a few hours. You are by yourself and you only have a Desert Eagle and like six bullets. You can leave your cover behind a car to pick up two grenades and a shotgun, but there are like five or six enemies in a small area, one with a shotgun, and others who enter the room from the ceiling as you kill those guys. It wasn’t the easiest of levels on Suicide, and on FUBAR it was downright frustrating. When I returned to it Thursday night after a few hour break, I died twice and then cleared the area. I was so happy that I cleared it and reached the checkpoint that I turned it off (after it saved of course).
I completed Chapter 6 all the way up through Chapter 12 on Friday, and had some issues with certain spots where I died quite a bit, turned it off for a little while, and came back refocused. That always seems to do the trick. Some spots were rough, but overall none of these chapters were overly bad. Chapter 13, Friday night and early Saturday morning, was also relatively smoothly with only one spot where I had to take more than three attempts to get past.
I breezed right through the first section of Chapter 14 Saturday morning, and then spent the next two and a half hours trying to get past the second battle. I died more times in this section than I had previously through all the other chapters combined. I’m honestly surprised that I didn’t just turn it off and come back later. At this point though, I knew there was only one more area left before the game was finished, so I pressed on. I even watched videos on YouTube of other people clearing this section to see how they did it; and of course trying to copy their movements never worked out.
I finally cleared the area though, and 30 minutes later (I died a few times right at the very end because I blind-fired a grenade launcher and one exploded on the sandbag… three times I did this before I quit blind-firing the grenade launcher). Once the last guy was dead, a cutscene began and the last two trophies popped and I had my ninth platinum and second one this month).
If you don’t have Spec Ops: The Line, you definitely should get it. If you have a PlayStation 3, you should be a subscriber to PlayStation Plus (it’s great) and you can pick the game up for “free.” I think the game could have been so much more, particularly if the choices you make throughout the game actually made a difference, but it’s still a really great game with a good story. It’s refreshing to see a military shooter that doesn’t glorify war.
For the trophy (or achievement) hunters who haven’t picked this game up yet, do so. It’s a fairly easy platinum/perfect score provided you’re good at third person shooters and have the patience to complete the game on FUBAR… which is a challenge that I highly recommend taking as, like I said, completing it on that level actually does feel like an accomplishment.
Really hope Yager gets to make another Spec Ops title with a bigger budget and more time. I think they can definitely top an already special game with something even better.