My Spec Ops: The Line Review
Spec Ops: The Line is actually a pretty unique game for me. I am pretty split on my feelings for it. For the most part it is a pretty standard third person cover based shooter. It runs like so many shooters before it did. That is not to say there is anything wrong with that. A lot of games take a lot of heat of playing the same way as other games of the same genera. In fact the game play is not were the majority of the problems lie, it is best said that it is the middle ground of the game, with the character AI, some mechanics being the bigger problem of Spec Ops: The Line and that the story and voice acting being so damn good and far above everything else. Some might see The Line a little dull with the game play, a little frustrating with the mechanics, but the story is amazing and really makes playing the game worth the time.
The game opens up with you playing as Captain Martin Walker of Delta Force, you are accompanied by two other members in your squad and you arrive in which has been cut off from all civilization by relentless sandstorms that have continuously hit over the past six months. The battalion that had previously sent in to gather up survivors and extract them has seemingly vanished in the sandstorms and no one has heard from anyone out of since. Your team is sent in to find out what exactly happen here and get way more than you bargain for. As your rescue mission falls a part quickly, you learn that it seems the 33 battalion led by Commander John Konrad has gone rogue and that conflict has risen between them and the locals. Everything unfolds in quite a way to keep you wanting more told to you through the story of what happen here and what stress that puts on Walker and his crew. It is in the rear three fourths of the game where things start to pick up as you start making moral choices that seem to really affect the game in many different ways as you move a long. Spec Ops: The Line does a great job making the decisions made feel more fascinating and makes the game’s blunt brutality more meaningful, showing what can happen when good intentions are taken too far.
Usually the voice acting in a game doesn’t really strike me, at least no more then needed so I believe the person talking is really in the situation at hand. I do not usually point it out in a review unless I feel the voice actor is just phoning it in or in the case of Spec Ops: The Line really bring it to the table, which is no real surprise with such great voice actors like Nolan North (Nathan Drake) taking the lead. As you go a long in the game, you really start to feel the stress, tension and over all anger that is being put on the shoulders of your team. This in many ways helps sell the story here and immerses the player in each situation. All three members in your crew go from basic military jargon, such as calling out enemies, shots and once in awhile cracking jokes to ranting at each other, cursing up a storm and just down right being angry at everything. To a point it is a downer, but what these men are going through makes it more real and actually quite sad seeing these men breaking down right before your eyes and having them not even realize it. It gets to such a dark place that even reloading a weapon pisses off causing him to curse at his weapon repeatedly. Maybe things like that is going a little too far, but it simply added to the tension. The real downside to the dialogue in the game is the repetitiveness of many of the games lines. Constantly hearing your squad mates calling out shotgunners get old pretty fast and many other lines that you will hear over and over as well.
As said before, Spec Ops: The Line is as standard as it gets for third person shooters. That is not at all a bad thing really. If it isn’t broke why fix it? Right? It has a cover system and the ability to vault over cover. You can sprint and slide into the cover and if need be, blind fire and it even has turret sequences. It is very generic to say the least, but it works. Some of the mechanics are pretty clunky however and sometimes your team’s AI feels like it is down right broken at times. To sprint you only have to be moving and hit the button to sprint once, but to slide into cover you have to be holding the button down when closing in on the covered area. This makes sprinting confusing when in the middle of heavy gun fire and you just want to get out of the open. Your team will at times walk and stop right in front of you while you are already shooting, causing you to shoot them. Now you can not hurt your team with friendly fire and they never turn their guns on you, like I have seen in other shooters, but it is still annoying to waste your ammo. There are commands for you to give to your crew, but it is as simple as basically pointing at an enemy and telling them to focus fire on that guy first. With your team’s AI at times being stupid, it would be nice to be able to offer better or more commands, but it gets the job done for the most part. Having your squad basically removed from you having anything to do with them in these shooting sequences hurts, but only because the game is not at all forgiving when it comes to giving you checkpoints.
Spec Ops: The Line comes with a competitive multiplayer that is completely tacked on at best. You can tell when a developer really has no interest in it’s multiplayer when you can’t even mess with some options for controlling your character, such as look speed, aiming or movement speed. If the developer won’t even take the multiplayer seriously, why should anyone that plays it? One could argue they Yager put more time and energy with the set up to multiplayer than they did with it as a feature. You can customize your character, change weapons, change your class and have different abilities assigned to your character. All these things you would expect to see in a game that heavily weighed on its multiplayer. However, being the game is loose and clunky while playing, makes going through all the work of setting up your character and unlocking thing through a leveling system down right not fun. Really the only thing of interest is that during matches, there are sandstorms that blow in, making it hard to get around and in some ways easier to get around without being seen by the apposing team. The multiplayer has your standard Death Match and Team Death Match, but is called "Chaos" and "Mutiny”, which I assume is the most effort (other than sandstorms) Yager put into the multiplayer to differentiate itself from other shooters. This is honestly a lame attempt and can be confusing at first glance.
Spec Ops: The Line did some really great things with the story, the use of moral decisions and voice acting and would have been a much better game if the same time and effort would have been put into the game play and mechanics and possibly the multiplayer as well. Although not every shooter on the market needs a multiplayer and the resources used for the multiplayer could have been used to make the single player so much better. In all, if you like watching movies such as Apocalypse Now and don’t mind generic, but working game play, you might enjoy playing through this game.