This article has been archived and may have some errors due to a previous design of MGL. None of the review has been altered however. Spec Ops The Line is a 3rd person Military shooter set in Dubai. You control Captain Walker and his squad mates Lugo and Adams to get some information following Civil war. The “dammed” 33rd army were sent to the army under the control of John Conrad and you are sent for recon and aid to civilians.

Very noble.

But things soon take a very nasty turn, there are serious problems with the locals and the 33rd too. Everything is involved with the CIA and it all gets very twisted with your own actions there too. This is what pulled me into the game very quickly and will do anyone that appreciates a good main campaign rather than just multiplayer based shooters. This really is a top single player experiences that has one of the hardest game modes I’ve ever got through, for those up for the challenge this is one hard game.

Look and feel

The game does look good overall but nothing stands out as WOW compared to other titles.

The game looks nice, as much as it can in a desert of rubble and civil war. The graphics engine does a good job of showing the destruction and barren conditions of Dubai after the disaster. Your characters are also well designed with a rough edge to them and a gritty expression constantly on their faces.

Environments vary from the outer desert that become almost a backdrop to the whole thing, to the interiors of some once very impressive and expensive looking buildings. There are a number of destructible sections as well that look impressive, along with some very well done set pieces and on rails shooting missions that are good fun.

Overall it draws you in but the visuals are not what’s to love here really, the story and gameplay is where it’s strengths lie…

Story

This is where the game surprises and delights in one fail swoop! For a military shooter it is incredibly story driven with a set of very likable and some hate-able, characters that are well voice acted although Nolan North (THE Nathan Drake) does stand out as Captain Walker as you would expect.

One thing I like is the lack of any gloss or pulled punches in this story, Dubai is not in a wreck and the 33rd have gone rogue. Innocent lives are being killed at an alarming rate. Your presence is not enough to stop it and at times makes it worse, depending on your choices at certain points of the game. Everything that you see and do effects your people and your character deeply so expect some not too happy scenes as you play.

The events in the game really take their psychological tole on the main characters

Part of the game that I have not really seen explored before is a psychological element of stress on the soldiers put in these situations and how it affects them and their choices. This story really hits hard on PTSD that is a massive problem with people in the millitary that seems to be swept under the rug most of the time. Here you get to see it up close and personal and even choose how far into madness you actually go as the story takes a massive twist. Not only is it well done but it’s a very unique and brave of the developers Yager to do it.

While there are choices they don’t affect the end result all that much in the short or long term, it simply affects your experience of a level. For instance there is one mission where you can go in and rescue someone and risk an all out fight or sneak about and leave him to die. Quite cruel but that’s life as a soldier I guess. Thankfully I went in all guns blazing first time through and on the super hard mode, FUBAR, I could go in stealthily to get the opposing trohpy/achievement.

Of course this is a positive element in a way however it does feel like they could have done more to change things in the long run based on what you do.

Gameplay

A well built cover based shooter with some very unforgiving difficulty modes!

It’s your standard cover based shooter but with added realism, particularly in enemy AI. You can hide in cover but you are not every 100% safe, an enemy from an elevated position can hit you or they will try and flank you some even blast your cover to bits. As commander you have control over your men to a degree, you can lock on a target that is causing you trouble and order them to focus fire on that person. Occasionally you get the option to get them to throw a flash bang when u are pinned down, this is particularly handy if you run out.

At times I found this a life saver but also not used as well as it could have been. Your men can go off into danger and you have no ability to call them back to your position or to get into cover, meaning they get shot and you have to go heal them. This isn’t so bad generally but on hard (or the ridiculously hard FUBAR difficulty) it can be frustrating. You can also feel a little spammed by grenades at times which again is a bit tedious as when you try and get away you immediately get shot. The shooting mechanics are very good though and there are a variety of weapons that all feel and shoot differently and work well at different times.

As for difficulty there are 4 options, the usual unlocked three to start with are are well balanced and all provide some challenge depending on your skill level, FUBAR is unlocked by beating the game on hard (Suicide Mission) difficulty. Now hard mode is very tough and will provide a challenge and a fair share of frustrating check-pointing, but FUBAR is nuts. If you survive a direct hit you are a very lucky man, turrets are instant deaths as are grenades while gunfire can be survived if it hits you from range it still leaves you one more away from dead. Its not cheap though, just brutal and realistic. If you do it, don’t even think about the next level, getting to the next checkpoint is sometimes as much as you can do!

Overall

Spec Ops The Line breaks the tradition that you only play a 2hr campaign that makes no sense then go online and kill your friends. It’s a strong story driven shooter that tests your shooting skills and what soldiers really experience seeing the scenes they do.

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