fratteker's Spec Ops: The Line (PC) review

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A terribly written story fails to drive a poorly designed game.

I've never understood the praise that Spec Ops: The Line received for its story. (SPOILER WARNING) The sub-Call-of-Duty twist at the end of the game that a bunch of things had been in your characters head was cliched and ineffective. The progression of the game-y elements of Spec Ops turning against you, loading screens calling you a killer and a monster etc., was a cool idea that was delivered ham-fistedly. And speaking of hammy fists, the white phosphorous scene maybe sums up my problems with this game. The "emotional" moment at the end of the sequence, of the mother and child burned to death, becomes outrageously dull in its cynical attempt to manipulate the player. It's the most obvious thing to do there. It's beyond that, it's the thing you'd imagine someone would dismiss long before they thought of the most obvious option to end that scene would be. It's just poorly written, and the lazy, simple, borderline idiotic writing is present throughout the entire game. Did you know war is bad? Did you? LOOK AT WHAT YOU DIIIIIIIID! There's a point to be made here (it's been made hundreds of times in other, smarter stories), but Spec Ops: The Line is one the downright crappiest at making it that I've ever seen. Before the "reveal" that you and your squad have murdered innocent people, it becomes incredibly obvious that this is what you're about to do, and the game gives you no choice. Not in an interesting way to make a point about inevitability or whatever, it just genuinely doesn't seem to realise that you could have guessed what was about to happen. Then when you go ahead and suffer through committing the dull actions that the game unconvincingly compels you toward, it becomes clear that the gameplay itself is also incredibly boring. Flat, generic, far below average third person shooting. The game is occasionally pretty and the setting is unique, but every single other aspect is poor. As far as I am concerned, there is no reason to play Spec Ops: The Line, and the confusingly positive reception it received at launch is symptomatic of the gaming industries immature storytelling ability.

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