Spec Ops: The Line was officially announced in 2009 and is only now seeing the light of day. Little about this title was revealed going into its release, thus leaving expectant players thinking the experiences would be seemingly average; however, once gamers get a hold of it, they’ll realize this isn’t the Spec Ops franchise that was around on the PlayStation One. No, it has evolved into something more meaningful and something players may grasp onto.
Placing you into the role of Captain Martin Walker, portrayed by Nolan North – who has an absolute potty mouth on him - you’ll be in control of Delta Squad, which consists of Lugo and Adams as well. Sent into Dubai after a series of city destroying sandstorms have taken place, Delta Squad are tasked with the rescue of Colonel John Konrad and his missing Damned 33rd battalion. Upon arrival in Dubai the team start to realize that there is more than meets the eye in what was supposed to be a simple rescue mission. You’re then thrust into the story and, if you let go and allow the game to take you on this journey, it is one of the most gripping story lines in a third-person shooter.
Gameplay is consistent with other shooters in the genre, cover system, an array of weapons, and a targeting system to guide team members to take out high value targets that may be blocking your way of advancement. One feature, or indeed lack of, that may put third-person shooter fans off is that Spec Ops: The Line sadly lacks a dodge/roll button that most third-person titles have, and on higher difficulties this may prove annoying or even frustrating, especially when trying to get out of cover when a grenade is thrown.
Graphically it stands on it’s own very well, however we found on PS3 there is that initial pop in that comes with Unreal Engine, but it is not a deal breaker. The sandstorms, character detail in clothing, face and shadows all look amazing. Environmental destruction is situational but destructible cover is present in most areas which means you’ll have to be aware of your surroundings to get the drop on enemies. You can use the environment to your advantage too, such as shooting out glass holding up sand or just ultilising those well worn explosive objects dotted around levels. Not only that but enemies will attempt to flank and barrage you in certain situations causing the cover you are currently behind to wither away.
For those willing to be taken away into the world of Spec Ops: The Line will experience a wonderful time. Ambiance is created by a man known as “Radioman” who watches over you, taunting your moves and even sometimes deciding to serenade your shootouts with music primarily driven from the 80’s to demoralize your unit. Moral choices also appear at key points in the story and your decisions will reflect upon your teammates on how they see you. These situations often cause you to think before you act, which is something shooters don’t normally tend to do. And, as if to completely discredit that last sentence, head-shots cause the game to go into a slow motion effect to emphasize the brutality – which will no doubt be touted as a way to make you concerned by your actions, but truthfully it’s just gore.
Online is an important feature in any shooter and this time it features some unique aspects. You can customize two different factions and, once unlocked, four different classes with a wide array of guns and weapons that unlock as you level up. Perks are there to assist you but unlike most ‘prestige’ systems, when you reach max level (45) you are able to Re-Enlist which unlocks upgraded versions of each class. Perks can be upgraded based on use which is great and widens the spectrum of combinations. Modes include, Chaos (deathmatch), Mutiny (team deathmatch), and Buried.
Buried sees two teams protecting repairable points the map, the team that destroys their opponents points wins. There are also combination modes such as Combat, which is a mix of deathmatch and team deathmatch. The Objectives playlist is a mix of the Buried, Uplink and Rally Point modes. Rally Point plays out like a team version of the ever popular ‘King of the Hill’ modes found in most shooters; Uplink has you protecting your communications array while you hold a spot on the map to gain points -a la territories – if you lose your array you will be unable to gain points until you fix it. There are also a set of hardcore playlists which include the much asked for Attrition where there are no respawns.
Many of the modes require smart play and teamwork, even hit detection seems this is pretty good and headshots count more than they do in other shooters. The most unique aspect of online play are the periodic sandstorms that occur which not only distort your vision but completely fuzz out the map unless you manage to take cover inside. These dynamic sandstorms are something we look forward to seeing other games utilize (dynamic weather in general, not just sandstorms). Something to note is that there will be free co-op DLC which is expected to be like a horde mode for two players.
Yager have crafted a beautifully engaging story that may be marred by many gamers for its ‘typical’ third-person shooter tone. In this day and age, where sequels run rampant and games have become mindless shooters, Spec Ops: The Line does what the title suggests and creates a new line; a new bar for your ‘typical’ third-person shooter that shows great gameplay, engaging story and a great looking presentation can really touch a gamers heart. The online may be a little lacking but for unique aspects and modes it is a pretty great addition to the Spec Ops package. If you give Spec Ops: The Line the chance it deserves, you are stepping onto one hell of a ride.
Final Score: 4/5