Spec Ops: The Line is a game that has constantly impressed me the more I’ve seen and I’m finally able to sit here and say that the game is really as good as you think it is.
Spec Ops: The Line is a third person shooter with some squad based tactics. Think something along the lines of Mass Effect but a little less technical and Call of Duty with a little less on-the-rail shooting. The game is set in Dubai and gamers will take control of Captain Walker accompanied by the Delta Force bravo team sent in for a search and rescue mission.
It’s not the regular Dubai though because it is a post-catastrophic setting where natural sandstorms have taken over the city and covered it in sand. The sand also plays a big role in both single player and multiplayer gaming as it can sway battles either way as it obstructs vision and destroys environments around you.
I think it’s safe to say that my favourite single player campaign shooter was Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, probably because it did so many things differently and the time just disappeared as you played it. The same is true for Spec Ops: The Line because the storyline is very engaging and players will love the way the plot gives twists and turns almost constantly.
The actual gameplay is clever as players can move from cover to cover helping out squadmates and giving orders to target specific enemies. The game works with a very smart “real life” aspect too where if you don’t shoot two targets in a small time frame, they alert others to bring in back up.
Silencers are an integral part of the game to avoid fighting off masses of enemies which is increasingly difficult due to the shortage of ammunitions players get. Not every enemy will drop ammo which almost forces players to swap to different guns and change tactics.
There is a nice little mechanic that slows the game down as you get a head shot. It’s not a long slow-down, but it’s just enough for you as the player to move your crosshair over to another enemy to take him out with ease. One thing that I must recommend is gamers play Spec Ops: The Line with an adjustable-DPI mouse because even at a sensitivity of “1”, I found the movement was far too quick.
There are a number of graphical glitches in the game that will crop up. At least three times I found myself looking at dead bodies that were standing straight up or in strange positions that wouldn’t normally constitute a “dead body”. These are few and far between but they do occur and although you may think it might take away from the general gameplay experience, it’s easy to forget when you focus on the next task at hand.
Traps are a nice addition of the game too where players will be able to shoot glass out from the top of the tall Dubai skyscrapers to watch enemies fall to their death. Players can also bury their enemy in sand by shooting or kicking out certain parts of buildings but these are mostly orchestrated and not freely available as you are moving through areas which give it a nice balance where it doesn’t occur too often.
The game runs off the Unreal Engine 3, so in terms of visual quality it's not of the highest standards. Don’t get me wrong, it still looks fantastic, but comparing it to the likes of Battlefield 3 just isn’t fair. I will say though that the environments are fantastic and the actual scope and atmosphere of the city has been brilliantly done. At times, players may want to just sit at a high point and stare out into the city of Dubai that was once home to the some of the wealthiest people alive.
Spec Ops: The Line does well in the soundtrack department too because the game offers a quick change of tempo through the music for different areas which adds atmosphere. The bullet sounds are realistic and loud and the explosions are brutal. The characters are also very well scripted and players will find that they have a feeling of loyalty towards them after some time.
The multiplayer is also a lot of fun and offers a number of different modes for both solo and team players. It also takes great advantage of the sandstorm disasters that can alter battles constantly. There are a number of achievement and trophies to get which will keep gamers playing through certain sections because different decisions will alter the cinematics.
It’s hard to say that Spec Ops: The Line is just another run-of-the-mill shooter because it constantly puts players into moral challenges by placing them amidst the most unimaginable situations. Seeing bodies hung upside down and burnt, or a lineup of dead soldiers against the wall from what can only be described as a shooting gallery, are scenes that pull at your character.
The Spec Ops series has been around since 1998 and pushed out a number of titles between then and 2002. From there, the series was deftly silent and it seems the wait has been well worth it as Spec Ops: The Line delivers in many different ways. This is definitely a game to get and will rival some of the top shooters out there for storyline and gameplay and all the other bits in between.
Spec Ops: The Line is definitely something special and gamers would be silly not to give it a try.
Rob 'GrIdL0cK' Clegg has been in the gaming industry for over 15 years and has competed in both local and international tournaments at the highest level. He is also a respected gaming critic and is Telkom Do Gaming’s lead reviewer