Hello all and welcome back, yet again, to another edition of The Backlog. Today we shall be venturing into the latest entry into the Spec Ops series, Spec Ops: The Line. Unlike the last time we got together to go over Inversion, I really enjoyed this game. Inversion had a cooler concept with their gravity control, as opposed to the occasional opportunity in Spec Ops to bury your enemies in sand, but Spec Ops felt much smoother while playing. The graphics also looked a bit more crisp for Spec Ops, but the smooth play and a better story puts is what places this game far ahead in my estimation.
Our story starts with the destroyed, desolate city of Dubai. Six months before our game begins, the once rich and beautiful city was ravaged by what must have been the worst sandstorm that ever hammered a civilization. But after months of silence and the city being declared a no-man’s-land, a radio transmission emerges from Colonel John Konrad. Konrad had led his 33rd Battalion into Dubai to aid in the evacuation effort, but obviously that was not successful.
The player assumes the control of Captain Martin Walker of a covert, three man Delta Force unit to extract Konrad and any survivors they can. You’re joined by teammates Adams and Lugo aboard a helicopter, with you as a gunner and charged with shooting down some other helicopters that are chasing you with the intent to cause you harm…the bastards. Unfortunately, after some intense chasing and shooting and dodging what’s left of some buildings, a sand storm slams into you and what’s left of your opposition and sends you all crashing to the sand covered ground.
Then, in a move I never care for, we flash back to when the team arrived in Dubai. Why do game developers insist on doing this? I mean seriously, what sense does it make to do an intro level, then flash back to prior to that level happening??? Who green lights these ideas??? Stop it already!!! /end rant
So anyway, you, Jones and Lugo and hoofing it through the sand looking for a spot to infiltrate Dubai. Obviously you find the spot, and after some more walking you come across some freshly killed bodies. Wait a minute…those are members of Colonel Konrad’s unit. Apparently some of the residents have decided to rise up and fight back, but why? Moving further along, you soon run into some of the these survivors, and surprise surprise, they don’t like you either. Let the shooting begin!!!
Soon you find yourself having to fight your way on to a crashed airliner, where some of the rebel survivors and interrogating a member of the 33rd. After rescuing him, you get a bit of information and carry on in your quest to track down Konrad, the rest of the 33rd, and any other survivors that aren’t shooting at you.
Beyond this, there is not a lot to add in regards to the game play. It is what it is, and that’s a cover based, third person shooter. It’s not earth shattering or ground breaking, but it is effective and it works just fine. I’ve never been one of those that thinks we need to change something just for the sake of changing it. If the engine needs to be or has been improved, but you’ve got one that works, stick with that until your improved one is perfect. No need to throw out a new but buggy game engine. I’ll end my rant now, thanks for listening…or rather, reading.
Cover is usually ample, but quite often is destructible, so unless you find yourself a big hunk of concrete or a big steel girder, then you’ll want to work quickly to kill the opposition and/or find new cover. That sort of realism just adds to the quality of the game in my estimation.
What really sets Spec Ops apart, in my opinion, is the story. What starts out as a simple search, save, and extract type of mission, quickly evolves into a ‘who done it?’ as well as a ‘what done they do?’ Who was in the wrong? Was it Konrad and the 33rd? Or did the people they were supposed to save just not wanted to be saved? Obviously, those questions are all answered throughout the game as things take deeper and darker turns.
Speaking of a darker storyline, the story did derive some inspiration from the short novel Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad and from Apocalypse Now. As one might surmise, Apocalypse Now was also inspired by Heart of Darkness. Basically, the main point here is that is no glory in war.
I enjoyed my time with this offering. I had not played any of the previous entries into the series, although from what I have read, The Line is its own story and does not link to any of the other Spec Ops games. If the other games in the series are anything like this, I might have to look into changing that.
Nevertheless, this is a very solid game with a compelling story that can draw you in and keep you coming back until its conclusion. And that is something I would be doing if I didn’t have to move on to another new release.
This is a game that you owe it to yourself to check out at some point. I didn’t try the demo before getting this game, but if you were on the fence about this game, definitely give that demo a shot.
Spec Ops: The Line gets a four out of five: GREAT.