@Phished0ne: I didn't examine the full Errant Signals breakdown of Spec Ops, because I've heard various glowing analyses of Spec Ops and I already know that I don't agree with any of them (apart from the bits which praise its bravery). I just latched onto the comments about ludonarrative dissonance, because I'm getting a little tired of seeing R* games held up as grievous offenders in this regard when they actually use several subtle techniques that other games don't bother to use, while games with more primitive approaches to blending gameplay and narrative, such as Spec Ops, get a bit of a free pass. To me, the rote combat in Spec Ops didn't feel wrong in a morally unsettling sense - such as the borderline surreal sequences in Apocalypse Now - or a morally stirring sense - such as watching villagers getting beaten to a pulp in Platoon - it just felt wrong in a kind of dumb way, in that the cheapness of life and the silliness of the action during the gameplay took away from the gravity and seriousness of what it was aiming for in the cut scenes. Max Payne 3 is IMO more successful in this regard, because your enemies are believable; while shooting gangsters is massive fun, the damage you do to them is obscene and distasteful, which resonates with Max's own distaste for everything that's going on. Max Payne's action thematically resembles the Flight of the Valkyries scene more, imo.
I generally don't agree with the 'meta-commentary' argument with Spec Ops as it stands. I believe you can either have a story which poses you deep moral questions by being emotionally affecting, or you can have a game which draws attention to its own bad mechanics in an attempt at some kind of meta-commentary on gaming, but you can't effectively do both simultaneously. Either the strong storytelling will make the game systems less visible (as in, say, The Walking Dead) or the shoddy mechanics will dilute the emotional weight of your story, as they did for me with Spec Ops. I also just think that 2K aimed for the former - the emotionally affecting story - but then emphasised the meta-narrative aspect afterwards, when they failed to succeed in making the in-game choices seem naturalistic.