Thank you Spec Ops: The Line, I hate you.

Posted by Zaccheus (1792 posts) -

*Spoilers ahead*

Warning: this probably isn't worth your time, it ended up being more for myself than for anyone else.

Wow. I just played through this game in one sitting and I'm exhausted. Wiped out, tired and numb. No shooter has had such an emotional impact to me since Episode 2... I just sat five minutes staring at this text to compose myself to continue. Yes, I'm a very emotional and easily manipulated person when it comes to TV, movies and games. There will certainly be a lot of people who will just shrug their shoulders and say "it's just a video game, I don't care". I don't want to do that, I always try to throw myself in and have an emotional experience. Spec Ops: The Line truly delivered.

I just get the gameplay out of the way now: it's fine. I could almost say that it's good, but honestly, it doesn't really matter. It's not frustrating and it doesn't come on the way of the important thing i.e. the story. The story is not really anything original, I loans things from may sources mainly from Heart of Darkness and the ending is obviously form Fight Club. It’s really the small stuff that makes it work so well.

The characters truly change during the game; I think this is fairly rare in games. Characters are often very static heroes or anti-heroes. They are established in the beginning and then they go against the obstacles what ever they may be and arrive at their goal. There isn’t that many character driven games.

A lot of the change is subtle and it’s not pointed out to the player. You just play along and then you realize that hey that’s different. This goes to what the character say during combat. At the beginning when they kill an enemy they say “enemy down” etc. but at the end it’s “got that fucker!” This isn’t a binary change either it goes in steps. The VO changes across the board too. From them spotting enemies to reloading. “Cover me I’m reloading” becomes “argh, this is slowing me down”. When healing teammates it goes from reassuring “You are fine now” to “Get the fuck up! We have to keep going!”

Then there are the executions. Finishing off enemies on the ground starts with a neck snap or a simple bullet to the head and goes to your character bashing the enemies’ face to the ground multiple times or lying on top of them and pushing an LMG in to their face and firings it while yelling “Fuck you!” This had a big effect to my attitude too and I actually cached myself muttering said fraise myself while finishing off an enemy that had almost killed me. I was shocked.

The game goes so far as to actually change the loading screens and tool tips as the game goes on. At the end tool tips don’t tell you that SMG’s have a shorter range but are fairly accurate while on the move. Instead they read: “You cannot understand, nor do you want to” and “Do you feel like a hero yet?”

No video game that I have ever played has depicted the decent into madness in such a way. You just feel everything crumbling around you. Nothing goes well in this game. There is no way to win and you can sense it from far away. The despair creeps into you and when you get into the chopper and Walker tells Adams so circle the building and just enjoys the hell out of mowing down dozens of soldiers with a minigun, I was right there with him. Fuck it man; let’s kill everyone, for fun.

I don’t know anymore. At this point I have lost all my energy to write anymore. I’m wavering on if I should actually even post this at this point since it’s just a bunch on my internalizations without any kind of conclusion or real point. So much text to delete might as well put it up. Thanks Spec Ops for making me feel and fuck you for it being such a miserable feeling. Love and hate.

#1 Posted by Zaccheus (1792 posts) -

*Spoilers ahead*

Warning: this probably isn't worth your time, it ended up being more for myself than for anyone else.

Wow. I just played through this game in one sitting and I'm exhausted. Wiped out, tired and numb. No shooter has had such an emotional impact to me since Episode 2... I just sat five minutes staring at this text to compose myself to continue. Yes, I'm a very emotional and easily manipulated person when it comes to TV, movies and games. There will certainly be a lot of people who will just shrug their shoulders and say "it's just a video game, I don't care". I don't want to do that, I always try to throw myself in and have an emotional experience. Spec Ops: The Line truly delivered.

I just get the gameplay out of the way now: it's fine. I could almost say that it's good, but honestly, it doesn't really matter. It's not frustrating and it doesn't come on the way of the important thing i.e. the story. The story is not really anything original, I loans things from may sources mainly from Heart of Darkness and the ending is obviously form Fight Club. It’s really the small stuff that makes it work so well.

The characters truly change during the game; I think this is fairly rare in games. Characters are often very static heroes or anti-heroes. They are established in the beginning and then they go against the obstacles what ever they may be and arrive at their goal. There isn’t that many character driven games.

A lot of the change is subtle and it’s not pointed out to the player. You just play along and then you realize that hey that’s different. This goes to what the character say during combat. At the beginning when they kill an enemy they say “enemy down” etc. but at the end it’s “got that fucker!” This isn’t a binary change either it goes in steps. The VO changes across the board too. From them spotting enemies to reloading. “Cover me I’m reloading” becomes “argh, this is slowing me down”. When healing teammates it goes from reassuring “You are fine now” to “Get the fuck up! We have to keep going!”

Then there are the executions. Finishing off enemies on the ground starts with a neck snap or a simple bullet to the head and goes to your character bashing the enemies’ face to the ground multiple times or lying on top of them and pushing an LMG in to their face and firings it while yelling “Fuck you!” This had a big effect to my attitude too and I actually cached myself muttering said fraise myself while finishing off an enemy that had almost killed me. I was shocked.

The game goes so far as to actually change the loading screens and tool tips as the game goes on. At the end tool tips don’t tell you that SMG’s have a shorter range but are fairly accurate while on the move. Instead they read: “You cannot understand, nor do you want to” and “Do you feel like a hero yet?”

No video game that I have ever played has depicted the decent into madness in such a way. You just feel everything crumbling around you. Nothing goes well in this game. There is no way to win and you can sense it from far away. The despair creeps into you and when you get into the chopper and Walker tells Adams so circle the building and just enjoys the hell out of mowing down dozens of soldiers with a minigun, I was right there with him. Fuck it man; let’s kill everyone, for fun.

I don’t know anymore. At this point I have lost all my energy to write anymore. I’m wavering on if I should actually even post this at this point since it’s just a bunch on my internalizations without any kind of conclusion or real point. So much text to delete might as well put it up. Thanks Spec Ops for making me feel and fuck you for it being such a miserable feeling. Love and hate.

#2 Posted by wealllikepie (757 posts) -

awesome. this is exactly what i wanted from this game

#3 Edited by Frag_Maniac (107 posts) -

Well the only thing I can echo in that is exhaustion, but not from the story, from having played it start to finish in one sitting. It certainly does have some visceral battles and decent AI. At times I'd been unaware an enemy had circled all the way around behind me. They also do the sand storm fight scenes quite well.

It is rather upsetting however that they expect players to believe a soldier could waltz into the biggest sand storm ever with absolutely nothing to protect the eyes, nose, mouth and ears from the wind driven sand. I also thought the story was rather cobbled together from other ideas like Heart of Darkness, etc, even going a rather occult direction at the end, yet it's only purpose seems to be to confuse the player since it lacks cohesiveness.

There's nothing wrong with a story that makes you question authority and morality, but one that does so without really offering a fruitful outcome doesn't have much impact in the long run. Instead it can make you feel as if anything you do will end in a bad way for merely being a soldier. Seems to me if one really wants to moralize they'd offer at least one possible ending where it's clear that you did some good.

#5 Edited by Yummylee (21475 posts) -

Err, hey, saying that the ending is obviously from Fight Club is a pretty heavy spoiler right there. You've basically just spelled it all out if it's really as similar as you say.

But anyway, I really like when games break the fourth wall like that with tool tips. Silent Hill Downpour done the same sort of thing. Kind of a quirky coincidence for two games released relatively close together to feature the same sort of device.

#6 Posted by Barrock (3525 posts) -

So, in the end does it turn out that all three men are one person, you the player?

#7 Edited by Oldirtybearon (4669 posts) -

@Frag_Maniac: I disagree with the sentiment that you need a morally "good" ending. There is no good guy in Spec Ops: the Line. Hell, the acronym for Spec Ops is "SOL" - or Shit Outta Luck. From the beginning Yager has said that this game wasn't going to be pretty, wasn't going to be "AMERICA FUCK YEAH," it was going to be everything Battlefield is afraid to be. It's the Anti-Call of Duty. There are no heroes in SOL, just soldiers teetering on the edge of sanity and trying to keep as best a grip as they can. The fact that Yager committed, fully committed, to their ideal should be commended. They didn't give you a typical video game ending (hero wins, hero rides off into the sunset), they wrote the three possible endings that make narrative sense to the story they told. There is no morally "good" ending because you have done nothing good the entire game.

I have to roll my eyes at the rote citation of "Heart of Darkness!" and "Apocalypse Now!" when discussing SOL. The game is obviously inspired by those works, but that doesn't diminish the value to be had in applying that kind of narrative in a game and then completely nailing it. No other game has cajoled players into losing their grip on sanity along with the protagonists, not like this. When I got the tool tip "How many Americans have you killed today?" I actually sat and thought about it. I tried to count, and I couldn't. The fact that Yager put in tool tips that make you question your own moral standing is a brilliant move. My personal favourite? "You're a bad person." I got that one for taking "vengeance."

I was so stunned, dismayed, and upset that a character I liked, Lugo, had been savagely strung up and forced to hang by a bunch of third-world shit-heels who couldn't understand that I and my boys were trying to get them the fuck out of Dubai. I even muttered "If he's dead, you're all dead," and sure enough I didn't leave a civilian left standing. It wasn't until the ending with Konrad that I, for lack of a better phrase, became shell shocked by the revelation that Lugo didn't die. I had killed all those civilians for nothing, and just like that my righteous fury was gone. I was ashamed of what I'd done. Ashamed of what I'd done in a fucking video game. I put the controller down and just shook my head.

If it were just that one moment, I'd say this game is just like Bioshock and deserves a smattering of applause. But the whole game is full of moments like that, compounded heat-of-the-moment decision after decision that doesn't penalize or reward you, it just makes you live with the consequences, and the shame, of having done it - and you're the only one who knows what you did. It's not like Lugo or Adams are going to tell your friends you're a mass-murdering psychopath, is it?

For that, Spec Ops: The Line is a complete success.

#8 Posted by Napalm (9020 posts) -

@Oldirtybearon: In your spoiler, you say, "[at the end] the revelation that Lugo didn't die." He did indeed die right there. If you are referencing the part where "Lugo" kicks open the door and starts shooting and screaming at the end, he's an hallucination, because as soon as he dies, he transforms back to the standard armored baddie. At least, I think that's what you're referencing?

#9 Posted by Oldirtybearon (4669 posts) -

@Napalm said:

@Oldirtybearon: In your spoiler, you say, "[at the end] the revelation that Lugo didn't die." He did indeed die right there. If you are referencing the part where "Lugo" kicks open the door and starts shooting and screaming at the end, he's an hallucination, because as soon as he dies, he transforms back to the standard armored baddie. At least, I think that's what you're referencing?

In the flashbacks when Konrad is telling you how much of a shitty person you are, one of the scenes referenced is Lugo standing over you dressed as a heavy armour baddie and saying "you left me to die!" and that... did not happen in my game. In the hallucination, the HAB is just an over-sized model of Lugo, not Lugo in straight up heavy armour, nor was Walker on the ground.

I'm not sure why the game would do that, show Lugo in heavy armour, if not to suggest Lugo either wasn't strung up or that we left him behind and he wasn''t, in fact, dead.

#10 Posted by Zaccheus (1792 posts) -

@Yummylee said:

Err, hey, saying that the ending is obviously from Fight Club is a pretty heavy spoiler right there. You've basically just spelled it all out if it's really as similar as you say.

But anyway, I really like when games break the fourth wall like that with tool tips. Silent Hill Downpour done the same sort of thing. Kind of a quirky coincidence for two games released relatively close together to feature the same sort of device.

I'm so sorry. I posted this before, but it was taken down by a mod because it was originally titled "Thanks Spec Ops: The Line and fuck you *Spoilers*" and apparently swearing on the title is a no-no. I totally forgot to put that back in when I reposted it. :<@Oldirtybearon said:

@Oldirtybearon: @Napalm: Yeah, I'm pretty sure Lugo is dead. Walker seeing him be the heavy is just his insane minds grieving, He blames himself. Adams doesn't see him as you can hear from his VO. Same goes for the ending sequence, it's just him feeling guilty for Lugo's death and the way that manifests itself is of course seeing Lugo blaming him. I don't think there is any reason to believe that Lugo is alive.

#11 Edited by Frag_Maniac (107 posts) -

@Oldirtybearon:

You read far too much into one possible fruitful outcome. Somehow you thought I meant the story had to have Walker as a morally righteous hero. No, I meant at least some sort of purpose fulfilled, be it looting some wealth or even giving you a possible way to shoot your way through the epilogue, perhaps out of Walker's sheer paranoia that "home" may have meant the insane asylum. As is it's a trip down insanity lane, yes, that is clear, but a trip that is somewhat unfocused and unresolved. I never have been one to buy into shock value for the mere act of story sensationalism though, so I guess I'm a bit biased. There are also tid bits that make the attempt to immerse you with a duel between morality and immorality somewhat ineffective IMO, like their suggesting you kill wounded enemies for weapons and ammo when they emphasize that you can't take them until they're dead. The game uses common gratuitous arcade shooter viloence throughout, then expects you to be sensitive to the story content. I find that a bit baffling and contradictory.

#12 Posted by mosdl (3228 posts) -

@Zaccheus: Lugo is dead - reshowing that scene is meant to show how Walker was loosing his mind, same with the scene where you had to choose between 2 people - the reveal was both were corpses and the whole thing was in his head.

#13 Posted by jerseyscum (870 posts) -

Too bad the actual game sucked.

#14 Posted by DefaultProphet (396 posts) -

That moment with Lugo and what I did afterwards. I knew I was gonna kill the crowd if he was dead. I was getting amped up to do it. And I did. Even the girl cowering off to the side. I knew what I was doing and still I just feel terrible about doing it now. I've thought about that decision more than anything else in a game ever. That's why this game is truly amazing. It's got completely adequate gameplay, decent visuals, and a good variety in levels but the story and how it's handled by the characters over the length of the game? Damn. Just damn.

#15 Edited by Zaccheus (1792 posts) -

@DefaultProphet:

I wanted to shoot everyone, but I told myself that's just something you don't do. I tried to get past the crowd but they just kept punching me, I tried at least three times and kind of snapped to that guy and shot him. Then I just watched, my gut wrenching, as Adams mowed down 4 maybe 5 civilians as they ran away screaming... At that point I had been playing for hours and it all seemed like a fever dream. That's my story.

I'm also curious if anyone else shot the wounded? I don't mean executing the enemies, but there are multiple situations when there are other NPCs moaning in pain. I felt obligated to relieve them of their misery. I did this at least after the mortar attack and when you go through the are where the 33rd and the rebels had clashed. Was this just me?

#16 Posted by Skyfire543 (675 posts) -

The scene that really got me was the motor attack. Man that part was fucked. It really felt like Walker snapped at the point for me.

I didn't even want to do it, but I assume there isn't an alternate choice in that part

since Konrad is painting a picture of all the civilians you killed at the end of the game.

It's too bad that at the front of that game just seems like another generic Gear of War clone, which in theory it is, but it actually has a really good story going for it. Plus Nolan North as Nolan North was good.

#17 Posted by DefaultProphet (396 posts) -

@Zaccheus: I shot almost everyone that was dying and moaning in pain. Including everyone after the White Phosphorous

#18 Posted by BBAlpert (1429 posts) -

@Skyfire543 said:

The scene that really got me was the motor attack. Man that part was fucked. It really felt like Walker snapped at the point for me.

I didn't even want to do it, but I assume there isn't an alternate choice in that part

I tried to just shoot it out, but quickly ran out of ammo and got shot to ribbons by snipers. It may theoretically be possible to do for someone much better at the game than I am (which admittedly isn't saying much), but I started to get a "this is a fight you're not supposed to be able to win" vibe from that encounter.

#19 Posted by Zaccheus (1792 posts) -

@BBAlpert said:

@Skyfire543 said:

The scene that really got me was the motor attack. Man that part was fucked. It really felt like Walker snapped at the point for me.

I didn't even want to do it, but I assume there isn't an alternate choice in that part

I tried to just shoot it out, but quickly ran out of ammo and got shot to ribbons by snipers. It may theoretically be possible to do for someone much better at the game than I am (which admittedly isn't saying much), but I started to get a "this is a fight you're not supposed to be able to win" vibe from that encounter.

I don't think Skyfire was referring to the highway sniper scene, but I'm not sure. I shot the ropes that the dudes were hanging on and then proceeded to kill the snipers. They ran some distance, but were both killed in the firefight. I don't think there is anyway to save them since you would have to kill all four sniper simultaneously since they target the hostages first.

#20 Posted by BBAlpert (1429 posts) -

@Zaccheus said:

@BBAlpert said:

@Skyfire543 said:

The scene that really got me was the motor attack. Man that part was fucked. It really felt like Walker snapped at the point for me.

I didn't even want to do it, but I assume there isn't an alternate choice in that part

I tried to just shoot it out, but quickly ran out of ammo and got shot to ribbons by snipers. It may theoretically be possible to do for someone much better at the game than I am (which admittedly isn't saying much), but I started to get a "this is a fight you're not supposed to be able to win" vibe from that encounter.

I don't think Skyfire was referring to the highway sniper scene, but I'm not sure. I shot the ropes that the dudes were hanging on and then proceeded to kill the snipers. They ran some distance, but were both killed in the firefight. I don't think there is anyway to save them since you would have to kill all four sniper simultaneously since they target the hostages first.

I wasn't referring to that either. I was talking about the scene where...

...you have to use the white phosphorus mortar from the balcony. The game presents the situation in such a way that it looks like maybe you could choose not to use the mortar, but you get overrun real quickly. The snipers I was referring to were ones that show up on the rooftops off to the left side of the balcony you're shooting from.

But you're right about the hostages part. They're both boned if you try to attack the snipers. However, you are at least able to win that fight (and you're supposed to be able to, as there's an achievement for it). It took me a bunch of tries to pull it off, though.

#21 Edited by Zaccheus (1792 posts) -

@BBAlpert: Well this turned into a big misunderstanding-fest... Yeah, you have no choice at that part. Walker makes the decision for you.

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