Spec Ops: The Line review
This new third person shooter dropping in between main titles like Gears of War and Call of Duty tries to captivate players with a unique story and run of the mill game mechanics. Does this game have what it takes to make a noteworthy addition to the consoles library?
In Spec Ops you play as Captain Martin Walker (voiced by the ever popular Nolan North) who has been sent as the Delta Force Team with two other members. The three of you were sent to find a popular government officer named Colonel Konrad and save as many civilians as possible in Dubai – or what’s left of it due to internal wars. As you play through you will have choices, with every one having some sort of effect on your future game play and outcome of events. No standard shooter has implemented this much reliance on such small choices before. Having said this, there are four different endings to the game. With an overall look at the story you will come to the conclusion that as objectives change, they can’t make up their mind. You will feel you are being tugged around as you complete each goal with farfetched reasoning. Some may not like the small changes in your objectives as you complete them. Aside from this possible issue, the story is very short. With indecisive objectives and a short campaign, this doesn’t leave much but replay value for the gamer. While replay value is a good factor, basing a game off of solely that doesn’t usually bear the best results.
Gameplay is standard and simple. The way grenades are thrown with a trail has been seen in casual titles before. Gameplay is mainly based around a cover system such as Gears of War as well as rechargeable health. Shooting aspects feel like Kane and Lynch but with a more linear style and brief intermissions. One cool “gimmick” if you will, is when you get an instant kill regardless of what method, it slows down as the kill is in progress. Another factor is squad based tactics. You can tell your ally to heal another, have them attack a certain target, but when you want to stun an enemy, you can only do this when you are cornered or pinned down. While limiting the player with the only few choices they have, this clearly isn’t a good choice. The animations look smooth but can seem a bit obvious as far as seams go in between animations. Gun shots look attractive as the bullets leave the gun as well. Ammunition for weapons can be scarce and there may be times when you will find yourself completely out of ammo for each weapon, you’re primary and secondary. Weapons are standard as well. They don’t offer much variety in gun selection. What you can use is what your enemy drops which happens to be the same 3 to 4 guns in most cases. Scavenging isn’t a minus, but when it is a chore, due to having nothing different in your findings, it becomes something no one wants to do. Like I stated before this game is linear. There isn’t variety in the game. There are no stealth kills as the only way to kill an enemy besides guns or melee is by executing them and that’s after you shoot or hit them. The execution is not necessary in every case and it gets boring to watch as there are only a few animations for this which begins to feel like a waste of time. There are no vehicles to drive in this game either, and zip line animations feel shallow yet there a lot of them. When there are turrets, you can use them. But they only happen to be around when it is part of an objective. AI in this game is nothing to be amazed of. They are as linear as the game itself. You will have opportunities to shoot glass holding back sand to overflow and kill those who oppose you. But again, this provides the same form of environmental deaths through the whole game. Moving from cover to cover is smooth and fun as you can switch weapons as you are running. Gameplay is mixed up between covering with turrets and shooting different weapons here and there. Even with tracked kills and headshots alike, this does not help the player get into the game.
While this game does have multiplayer, not many will be rushing off Call of Duty to play this. Gameplay online is just as linear as story mode with the same features. A ranking system is incorporated but it isn’t much of a difference from many games today. Audio is different in this game as with others as far as soundtracks are considered. When you engage in battle or hear any music it is usually a full band playing rock music. This can ruin the tone or mood a lot of the time for some players. Voiceovers in cut scenes are done very well and are enjoyable to watch though.
Graphics look great for this game although some textures may seem unfinished. Some effects look wonderful such as flares and smoke yet grenades and explosives appear to be nothing but clouds of smoke, not explosions. Damage such as blood is usually minimal but looks good. They are comparable to other games, but the graphics still make this enjoyable to an extent with most vistas being noteworthy. The controls too are decent compared to others. When trying to maneuver some may feel uncomfortable trying to get back in cover or move around objects in the game resulting in taking away from the subversive experience that Spec Ops tries to produce.
Overall this game is very linear with dull AI no matter how hard it tries not to be. It is just a new game with old tricks that many other games can do much better. A lot of the time you will be questioning your motives in the game. The story is, in a sense, good, but lacks direction. There is a mental disease wrapped up in the story which gives an interesting feel to the game. Though the ways you make choices in this game are seamless with no menus and only actions, it only goes so far. It has nothing new to offer for today’s releases, this is simply a standard and casual game regardless if you pay attention to the story or just shoot your way through.