Let's get one thing straight, Spec Ops: The Line is a generic third person shooter, the sort you've played to death in this generation of consoles. That's not to say it's without substance or the occasional moment of, dare I say brilliance. Don't get me wrong, it's attempts to tell an emotional story don't always work, but some credit must be given for the method of storytelling Spec Ops: The Line goes with.
There's an interesting contrast that exists between the way Spec Ops plays, to the way it tells a meaningful story, whereas gameplay is typical and in places frustrating and forgetful (though I wouldn't go as far as to say it's awful nor unplayable) it's just terribly generic and as the danger of getting in the way of the real highlight, the story. After all, that's what'll keep you shooting bad guys in the face time and time again, it certainly won't be the gameplay.
So how about that story? You play as Captain Martin Walker, part of a three man Delta Force team sent into Dubai after a devastating catastrophe tasked to rescue any possible survivors and hunt down Colonel Konrad, a decorated Officer of the US Army. This is where the story of Spec Ops: The Line is most captivating, rarely feeling predictable and covering many of the darker subjects of warfare, including the costs to both civilians and soldiers alike. Things get pretty crazy in some fascinating ways and spoiling to much would be a great shame. The trouble is this unique take on storytelling isn't present in a particularly outstanding game, leaving some gamers to switch off long before the story gets going (which takes a few hours.)
While gameplay hinders storytelling, voice work is solid throughout doing a fine job of selling the story. Nolan North might be the jack of all trades in the video game voice over world but he puts in one of his best performances as Captain Walker. As do most of the cast and the importance of this good voice work can't be overstated considering the subjects covered in the story of Spec Ops: The Line. Unfortunately there's a few niggling issues with sound in other areas of the game, but none large enough to disrupt.
Devastated Dubai makes for an intriguing setting, the spectacular city we know today as been retaken by the sands of the desert and there's some truly impressive looking vistas to behold. That said, some textures loading was present especially in cut scenes and a generally grimy look doesn't exactly sparkle the eyes, Spec Ops looks decent enough however and the Xbox 360 version ran reasonably well with few issues. Atmosphere is well captured and good use of lighting helps add to the key moments in the story.
Without a doubt, the one real reason to play Spec Ops: The Line is the story, it's certainly worth checking out if simply for it's take on warfare and yes, while gameplay is a generic blueprint of a third person shooter, it's story wouldn't go amiss in some big summer Hollywood blockbuster. Telling a good story in a video game is without a doubt, one of the mediums greatest challenges and in this Spec Ops: The Line sets down a foundation for hopefully future developers to build upon. One can only hope however, that such a method of storytelling is told in a game considerably more fun to play.
Thanks for reading,