“War is hell” and so is war gaming at times. Gone are the days when we just blew stuff up, killed mindlessly, without any thought to our actions.
Because with the release of SPEC OPS: THE LINE from 2K STUDIOS things are changing folks.
Set in DUBAI somewhere in the near future, the worst series of sandstorms have hit the country, six months prior to the game, causing a complete breakdown of society. The rich have flown the coop and left the locals to deal with it, and we all know that is not going to be good.
A highly decorated colonel is sent in with his battalion to sort things out and surprise, surprise he turns rebel (sound familiar?) and it`s your job to go in and take him out (as we all know negotiating is not much of an option).
SPEC OPS: THE LINE is a very thinly disguised rehash of APOCALYPSE NOW! The 1979 war movie starring MARTIN SHEEN.
Your job as Captain Walker is to protect citizens and find the rebels to take out their leader Colonel John Conrad, yes the same story line as APOCALYPSE NOW!
With an excellent voice over cast and a nice story, this has all the hallmarks of becoming a classic game.
Unfortunately, the actual game mechanics let it down, which has turned a potential great game into just another shoot `em up.
With incredible graphics (apart from the sand simulation) and some great set pieces, this game has it all. Yet playing it can be a frustrating experience. Why did the developers simplify the game mechanics so much? If this game had had the brilliant mechanics of TOM CLANCY`S GHOST RECON: FUTURE SOLDIER, then this would have rivalled not only that game, but CALL OF DUTY as well.
For example, the duck and cover is a nightmare, your character can take cover, but the minute he starts firing he just stands up, and then when you try to get to cover again, he either doesn`t, or just jumps over the obstacle and gets killed.
Another problem I found was when you aimed and fired your character started moving backwards.
These are serious errors that should have been ironed out before release, and ruin the whole experience, such as enemies jumping up and down like a funfair shooting range, or being unrealistically reckless.
Apart from that it`s a nice game, with plenty of action and a great atmosphere, especially the story in which you get to make moral decisions about your actions, and not a click yes or no scenario.
SPEC OPS: THE LINE is a very well thought out game, story wise and visually. It’s just a pity the same thought wasn`t put into the actual game play.
Talking of gameplay, SPEC OPS: THE LINE does offer some really nice variables actually, with some scenes involving sandstorms, sunlight or obstacles getting in your line of vision.
With the ability to give commands (all right somewhat simple ones) to your squad, it gives the gameplay some realism, which is great, until the bad game mechanics kick in and it`s back to controller chucking time.
With all these type of games there is the usual on-line multiplayer, which in this case is pretty disappointing and comes across as some kind of an afterthought on the part of the developers, with the usual stuff like death matches and an interesting yet flawed buried mode.
OK I get what the developers are trying to do here with this moral and complex insight into the horrors of war, and it is indeed a marvellous and engrossing story, making us all question the futility of war.
But at the end of the day this is no good if your games mechanics are rubbish.
SPEC OPS: THE LINE could have been up there with the greats. Instead it lets itself down on the most basic of things, and that is a real shame. If you can tolerate the mechanics then please indulge yourself in a different and thought provoking game, but if you like your games to work properly then avoid this one.
I give SPEC OPS: THE LINE 7 out of 10 - like I have said, the game mechanics let this game down big time.
Spec ops: The Line
Developers: Yager Development, Darkside Games
Publishers: 2K games
Genre: Tactical Shooter
Release Date: 29th June 2012