Do you feel like a hero yet?
Do you feel like a hero yet? It’s pretty awesome seeing a message like that show up in the hint section on a loading screen. Spec Ops: The Line is a very interesting game, playing it four years after its release must skew things a bit. This definitely isn’t a 60 dollar game, especially today. Putting this in your Steam wishlist and waiting for a drop, or finding a heavily discounted copy of it for 360/PS3 and spending your weekend with it definitely pays off. Little else besides it’s story pays off, but this five to six hour romp through the Dubai dunes is well worth it.
This is a third person military squad cover shooter that feels dated today, and this game coming out in 2012 must have felt sore after the height of the Gears of War trilogy. You hold the A button to roadie run. You hide behind cover, run between cover, and vault over cover. The automatic rifles feel alright, but the sawed off shotgun is a real blast, jerking your screen around just the right amount. The sniper rifles are quite fun too, popping polygonal heads clean off. All of this is presented in pretty straight forward fashion, you shoot for a bit while pushing forward, get some story, and continue the fight. Light squad elements are usually triggered by a prompt, and one of your pretty good squaddies will throw a stun grenade, dome a target, or revive a fallen squad member.
The AI pathing is where I had most technical issues with the game. Two times enemies got stuck or never made it to cover, and that area of the map happened to be inaccessible. I could just hear them yelling behind a Humvee on a hill and couldn’t do much. Had to restart from a checkpoint, but the checkpointing system is good. My personal favorite was in the climactic final mission of the game, and one of my dudes just glitched on top of a sandbag and became invincible. The voice clip that triggers before a teammate goes down just kept looping and this dude just gunned down everything in his sight. It made it way funnier.
One of the coolest things this game does, and it’s surprising it hasn’t been done since, but over the course of the game, your squad’s chatter develops. Beginning with being clear, although under enemy fire, generic messages like “I’m reloading,” or “shotgun in the clear,” as more of the mood and turns of the story come to set, those messages change. As the squad sees more shit, more “shit’s” are thrown into the mix, along with more useless lines that reek of a tired soldier. Executions also turn from quick stomps to the head to finish off an enemy to methodical, Robocop-esque shotgun murders. It’s a really neat thing.
The story takes risks, it just sucks what it’s wrapped in. The pacing of it is good, with the story laden parts of levels being just the right length. Again, I think these spots could have been longer to some benefit, but being a shooter where you play heavy dudes taking cover, slowing them down even more would have made the whole thing worse. The soundtrack plays to its advantage, with plenty of licensed cuts that make the whole thing feel a little more, well intentionally, bizarre. Those sort of “choice cuts” are brought by the Radioman, one of the few tertiary characters you brush up against. The collectible intel strewn about the levels are left by these characters, and provide some context from different angles. These are narrated by a decent cast of voices, with industry staple Nolan North delivering, as well as Mr. Tron himself Bruce Boxleitner coming in strong.
I came into this game wanting to play something wholly graspable after the mammoth that is Breath of the Wild. I definitely got what I wanted from it, and a little bit extra. The things this game does with it’s story, and it’s hot take on video game shooter stories en large is worth a couple hours of your time.