Finished Spec Ops The Line last night, and still thinking hard about it. DAT TWIST. All the endings are great. It surpassed my expectations from all the hype around its story, because it's all directly tied to gameplay. The grey moral choices where you're still given complete freedom to have the alternative option of not doing anything. All the little attention to detail like melee executions getting more drawn out, menu screen changing based on progression, "star spangled banner" getting more noisy, Walker's facial damage reflecting level progression. The design decision of fallen enemies writhing in pain, so the player has to make the choice of either going for the brutal executions to get ammo in tight situations, or wait it out to show mercy. This is directly tied to how limited the ammo can be, unlike most military shooters.
This is the perfect way of storytelling or "ludonarrative" in videogames, and this style needs to be adopted more instead of relegating storytelling to cutscenes (which was just a technical reason back in the day). Adam and Lugo will constantly react to your moral decisions and one of them might be pretty angry throughout the remaining playthrough. I appreciate the GATE moment not being up to choice, it makes for a legitimately gruesome "what have I done?!" moment that twists the usual power fantasy bombing runs in Modern Warfare where you see the consequences. That horrific image of the mother holding her child will be forever seared into my head.
I should have expected the twist, but damn now I need to play it again to see if it all fits together (and possibly look for the holes).
I've played other games this year that also have great stories:
(still need to finsh Resonance)
But I think The Line's affected me the most, because of a few reasons. The fate of Walker's character at the end. The character development of your squad, and of Walker especially where Nolan North sells it as this man slowly growing insane and ferocious (when he says "reloading" later on, it's downright creepy). It does something quite different from Apocalypse Now with its twist, so it's not as predictable. Also, first military shooter with a story that turns the whole genre on its head. We don't need to pine for Six Days in Fallujah to be made now to be the shooter where I actually care where my bullets land, we've got this.