PAX 2012 gave me the opportunity to check out many titles and one of them was Spec Ops: The Line. I was reserved, skeptical and almost downright uninterested. I didn’t really see this title fitting in my go to shooter of this year; the one’s you usually hear about. So, I approached the well done area for spec ops during PAX east and got the opportunity to speak with the lead writer Walt and had a lot of fun with that. I played the demo and I was not impressed, not because it wasn’t good (it was) it just wasn’t on my radar. The problem was that I needed change my mindset about it and the trigger wasn’t the game demo itself; It was Walt.
Spec OPS: The line isn’t your typical war story where we have a hero to celebrate nor does it keep the player from the potentials of war in an unfamiliar land. It isn’t the story you’ll see on our known networks but one you’ll find done by an amateur you-tuber. It is the story of Captain Walker who goes into Dubai to find out what on earth happened to Colonel John Konrad and The 33rd Unit. Walker is accompanied by Adams and Lugo who along with Walker are Delta force. This story goes from a simply recon mission to what turns into survival at all cost and a loss of moral beyond recognition.
Spec OPS: The line is powered by the unreal engine which I believe suited this title well. The roadie run, cover, blind fire mechanics was expected one you got into the game. I realize though that I was not of fan of the “getting into cover” speed as it seem a slow and moderately sluggish. This particular game mechanic formula need a lil more work and that was evident in more intense battles later on. The ability to double tap A to turn around must be quickly followed by holding up if you desire to continue running in that direction. You cannot roll like a COG but you can swap cover like one which is a plus and the running doesn’t seem to be fast enough when enemies throw grenades at you that you wish you can toss back. B is used to vault over things which I find extremely odd so I went back to the original Gears of War to compare the buttons. I noticed that the vault and cover where assigned to the same button in GOW and that options was not available in Spec OPS – was a little bothered by that.
As I mentioned earlier Adams and Lugo are your squad-mates and with that comes great responsibility. You cannot control them directly but you can have them take out enemies for you. Adams seems to have a more close quarter specialty using his AR and grenades. Lugo on the other hand is the guy that everybody loves to have on their team – the sniper. Throughout the campaign you will be engaged in combat that will require their services even if you believe you can take out the tangos all by yourself. If one of them is down, you can send the other to heal but if they are both down, you have to do the healing. The AI doesn’t seem that bright at times for Adams and Lugo because it seems that they go out in the line of fire which I found annoying. Why are you out there Adams/Lugo? Shouldn’t you be behind cover or at least a spot where I can reach you if you get downed? The AI for the enemy isn’t all there either where their most powerful soldier (juggernaut) walks all the way to your cover and stays their while you spray em on the other side. The gun-play is very well done I’d say where you get music that comes out while you show them who’s boss; I like that. The hit boxes are fairly accurate as well where I trust that a head-shot is just that.
Spec Ops shines well in the game sound department. I played the entire game with a headset so I felt even more engaged with the dialogue of the characters and the sounds of the game. There’s a lot of yelling, adult language and explosions in this title. The characters also spend a few rounds getting into each other faces as the tension rose throughout the campaign. You won’t necessarily do back flips over the character textures but you will appreciate how they fit in the atmosphere and land of Dubai. The sand, although well done didn’t completely change the battlefield but modified it just enough to be affected by the change. The sandstorms are beautiful and cause bright sprites when you engage the enemy in it – pretty cool. I noticed prior to the game being released that many were focused on how great the sand affects are but the story overshadowed all of that where I’m revisiting the campaign on a harder difficulty level. In triple A titles, I seldom touch the campaign which says a lot about the depth of the narrative. This isn’t your typical flying around the world to find a guy to gun down – no no no – this calls into question your morals even after the story is done.
The multi player gives you standard modes that you’d come to expect; modes like team death match and headquarters are available in the so common kill for xp ranking system. The premium edition includes the FUBAR pack that allows you to acquire the AK-47 at rank 1, double XP for a week, increase your teammates effectiveness during battle and receive a unique officer class kit to list a few.
Overall I will say that Spec OPS: The Line will cause others to step it up in the narrative. It is an intense and moral triggering ride that dares the player to engage and deal with the circumstances of the inevitable. I’m very glad that I took the time to chat with the lead writer because I would of slept on it and done myself a great disservice. Go buy it and enjoy.