Spec Ops: The Line is one of the latest war games to hit the shelves. Developed by a relatively unknown company called “Yager Development” and published by the massive 2K Games (famous for Mafia, Borderlands and BioShock series) I looked at this game at first I thought to myself “this is just going to be another one of those army games that tries to copy what Call of Duty does by buying into the conflict in Afghanistan and making a game about the modern battles going on in the world today”. But man was I wrong. In fact I was totally and completely wrong. Turns out this game is actually very different to other war games that you find on the shelves lately.
You step into the shoes of Captain Martin Walker of the Delta Force unit with your two team mates Adams and Lugo at your command. You are sent on a rescue mission in Dubai, United Arab Emirates to rescue Colonel John Konrad who went missing along with his entire 33rd Battlelion squad. Dubai has been buried after huge sand storms swept through this once very wealthy and beautiful city. The leaders and wealthy elite of Dubai downplayed the storms to the public before secretly evacuating just before the storms hit, leaving loads of Emiratis without any notice or help at all. Konrad and his men were travelling back from duty in Afghanistan when the storms began to strike. He then volunteered his whole unit to help the relief efforts, and then deserted with the entire unit when ordered to abandon the city and its refugees by the U.S government. The 33rd declared martial law but struggled to maintain control of the citizens with all the devastation going on around them. The last communication out of Dubai stated that the 33rd was attempting to lead a caravan of more than a thousand civilians out of the city. However, the caravan never arrived and the UAE declared Dubai a no-man's-land and stopped all travel in and out of the city. The 33rd was publicly disavowed for treason, and no further news left the city.
Two weeks before the beginning of the game, a mysterious looped radio signal penetrated the wall. The radio loop said “This is Colonel John Konrad, United States Army. Attempted evacuation of Dubai ended in complete failure. Death toll: too many.” The US military decides to covertly send in a three-man Delta Force team to carry out reconnaissance.
Upon entering the city you are your squad soon realise that Dubai isn’t as dead as it was made out to be and some of the locals are hostile. You walk straight into a war zone. Coming up against Arab and American soldiers without knowing if anyone can really be trusted and you have to discover what has actually gone on in the city after communication was lost with the outside work. I’m trying to be really careful what I write as I don’t want to ruin was is a fantastic story line that is very gripping.
The game plays very nicely and uses a simple cover system. There are many times where you have to keep switching cover to get closer to enemies and also try and get around turrets by flanking them. The camera angles and buttons remind me personally of Gears of War when sprinting and being shot it adds to the intensity of the situation. You can command your team mates while in combat to take out certain enemies or put fire on a turret to give you an opportunity to flank it. I’m a big believer that a good game should be like a good movie, you don’t want to stop watching and movie so why should you begin to stop playing a game because the story either becomes uninteresting or repetitive. In Spec Ops: The Line I feel they have got the perfect blend of hard fought battling that requires tactics to overcome the enemy, accompanied with a very gripping man vs. himself survive story and you feel for the characters and get that attachment to them as you are 3 men alone against God knows how many people. Togetherness has always been key in the army and that is evident in this game with your characters. Another cool aspect is how that game uses music to create suspense, tension and other emotions. For example, when you go into your first gun fight of the game you get this very heavy rock track over the top that gets your adrenaline pumping. I personally feel this game is more than good enough to be made into a successful and appealing film. The only downfall of this game is that the campaign is relatively short; I managed to complete it on the medium difficult in a very short time. But as the game is so gripping and a thrill to play it’s easy to overlook the short story.
Spec Ops: The Line is available now for Play Station 3, Xbox 360 and PC.
Review in association with Duracell Gaming Accessories, which are available from Amazon, Play.com and Zavvi.com Review by Thomas Thompsett, White Room Games.