Spec Ops: The Line Review

 

Eventually, Spec Ops begins to address players directly, with accusatory loading screens that say things like “Do you feel like a hero yet?” and “How many Americans have you killed today?” One could argue that the entire game is actually a grim satire of the modern military shooter. Satire, however, is meant to be understood, and if Yager thinks we should be ashamed of ourselves for enjoying the violence depicted in a game like Spec Ops, then the only sensible reaction is for us to stop playing it, which is clearly not their intention either. Opting out would be a shame, if only because the writers save their most creative, compelling ideas for the game’s daring, mind-bending conclusion.

Ultimately, the game’s message is as mixed as its overall quality. For every well-chosen licensed song, there’s a mid-firefight sequence of nu-metal-lite that would have been dated ten years ago. Well-crafted characters like Walker clash horribly with one-note missteps like “The Radioman,” a cackling, wisecracking DJ whose sole purpose seems to be to remind people of Dennis Hopper’s acid casualty photojournalist in Apocalypse Now.

In Heart of Darkness, Conrad’s narrator Marlow describes his eventual escape from the Congo, which spared him the fate of Mr. Kurtz.

“I have wrestled with death. It is the most unexciting contest you can imagine. It takes place…without glory, without the great desire of victory, without the great fear of defeat, in a sickly atmosphere of tepid scepticism, without much belief in your own right, and still less in that of your adversary.”

He could easily be describing Spec Ops: The Line. Neither good nor bad, the game’s best ideas are cancelled out by its worst missteps, its general mediocrity excused by its moments of surprising creativity. Hopefully, it will inspire more developers to take risks, to be ambitious, as Yager Development dared to be in applying Conrad’s masterpiece to the moribund third-person shooter formula. But unless these future risk-takers can truly commit to their ambition, freeing it from the tired trappings and tropes of gaming orthodoxy, they’re as doomed as Mr. Kurtz himself.

Pros

  • Best story and character moments are though-provoking and unique
  • Some beautiful design elements
  • Slick production values; good voice acting

Cons

  • Boring, familiar, repetitive combat
  • Story filled with plot-holes
  • Awkward checkpointing
  • Too much unfulfilled potential

Final Score: 60/100

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2 Comments on Spec Ops: The Line Review

Jimbo

On July 14, 2012 at 4:27 am

I disagree, game is pretty good, 80/100 i would say.

Tiagonal

On July 19, 2012 at 8:06 am

I was expecting to rappel all the way up the Burj Kalifa in the midst of intense firefight and preventing anyone to cut your rope with the sudden sandstorms to block your acrophobia from time to time… all in HD 3D!!! It was called ‘the line’ for a reason.. but now I know it wasn’t this.