Spec Ops: The Line review
Take a bad situation and make it worse — a lot worse — and that's what you have when you play Spec Ops: The Line. What starts off as a standard search and rescue in the sand-blasted lands of Dubai quickly unravels into a downward spiral that not only has you questioning why you are there, but who you are fighting for... or who you're fighting against... or why you're even there in the first place... or what the hell is going on? To put it simply, Spec Ops: The Line is a complete mind f*ck.
What starts off as a few moral dilemmas quickly escalates into you second guessing each of your decisions — decisions that at the beginning of the game seem so easy and simple — and rethinking your morals. At the beginning, everything is so clear, but at the end you will not only second guess your decisions, but your sanity as well. Are you a monster? Are you doing what it takes to survive? These are the questions you'll ask yourself as you play Spec Ops: The Line, and ultimately, it's the questions you will be left to answer when the game concludes.
Most of today's shooter games have that macho-man, Americans saving the world mentality. They make war seem fun and exciting, without really exploring the toll it takes on you not just physically, but mentally. Spec Ops: The Line is refreshing, not because of its innovative gameplay, but because of the way it explores war and depicts the mental breakdown of soldiers caught in a situation that goes from bad to worse.
Story is Spec Ops' strongest aspect. Playing as Captain Martin Walker, you are sent in to the ruins of Dubai after a series of cataclysmic sandstorms cut the city off from the rest of the world. Your mission is simple: search the city for Colonel John Konrad and his battalion, The Damned 33rd squadron of the U.S. infantry, and rescue them.
Upon entering the ruins of Dubai, you are soon met with strange radio signals that peak Walker's interest, leading him deeper into the city, and ultimately further into the rabbit hole. Walker, along with his two squadmates Lugo and Adams, soon discover that things in Dubai are not what they seem, and that the very men sent in to keep the region stable has abandoned their duty. It's now just a fight for survival for everyone in the war-torn lands of Dubai. Civilians, CIA, The Damned 33rd, and now the Deltas are all fighting for their lives.
Up until now, I've talked mostly about Spec Ops' story and dilemma. That's because story is where the game truly shines. While many games rely on action gameplay as a crutch to aid the story, Spec Ops does the complete opposite. Rather, Spec Ops' standard third-person gameplay serves as a setup to the next cutscene, where Walker and his squad question the very actions that just took place. Combat is in the game simply to facilitate the narrative.
You won't feel like a hero at the end of each firefight; instead, you will feel like a monster who slaughtered dozens of people just trying to survive. Through these cutscenes, you will watch as Walker and his men quickly deteriorate, questioning their judgment and morality.