Spec Ops: The Line is a third-person shooter video game developed by Yager Development and published by 2K Games. The player controls Captain Martin Walker, who is accompanied by two other Delta Force team members to rescue a U.S. Army Colonel Konard and investigate the failed extraction of civilians via a convoy from Dubai which has been desecrated by sand storms.
Overall the Single Player game was a rather short affair with the reviewer managing to complete it within one gaming session, around 12 hours. As mentioned above this is purely a third-person shooter game only, absent of any other elements. The story is gripping, certainly enough in the reviewer’s opinion to make up for bland shooting elements, and at no stage hints as to what occurs during the ending. Additionally it is very nice to see the noticeable effects these events have on both the player and the team members.
The standard variations of weapons are available at various times throughout the game, including shotguns, machine guns, sub machine guns and sniper rifles. Up to two weapons can be carried by the player at any one time and it is possible to switch between them by using the Y button. Most incorporate a secondary fire mode which can be activated by pressing the up button on the D Pad. For example, one of the player’s starting weapons, the M1A1, has an optional silencer which when equipped does not alert nearby enemies. This can be used to great effect in some chapters where it is possible to pick off a few lone sentries and then close on a nearby group to hear them discussing the player’s impact on the world to date. Not to mention it makes some of the later fire fights much, much easier.
Grenades are the secondary object the player can pick up. There are three types: frag, flashbang and sticky. The player can switch between these via the left and right buttons on their D Pad. There is a set limit of three for each of these grenades.
Lack of ammo or grenades in the game will never really become a problem in the majority of fire fights as the player will always find flashing, bright green ammo or grenade boxes spaced around levels. If ammo does run low however, it is always possible to grab weapons from downed enemies.
Due to the unique environment of a sand coated Dubai the well trodden set pieces never actually feel boring or stale. Additional nice touches include the ability to destroy certain areas of the battle area and dunk sand on enemies to stun them for a few vital seconds, major characters taunting the player reminding them of their previous actions to date and a few areas where the ground literally disappears beneath the player as enemies below destroy the glass ceiling. Unfortunately the scripted sand storm events, which do appear every now and then to shake up some of the action, never really catch the player at what feels like inconvenient times. The reviewer is in two minds as to if this is a wasted opportunity or if their overuse may have been seen as tacky.
On harder levels enemy AI will attempt to rush, flank or flush the player out with grenades but never actually appears to possess true co-ordination. They may initially spawn as a group but will soon always default to pre-defined, obvious roles. The assault guys hide behind cover and throw grenades if the player hangs back, shotgunners always run into to close quarters and the knife welders rush towards the player. Never once did it feel like to the reviewer the assault guy was laying down suppressing fire enabling the knife welder to close for the kill.
The first area the game lost a point was from the bland, unattractive multiplayer which did not really hold the reviewer’s attention for all that long and the lack of any co-op. True upcoming, free, DLC does enable the co-op ability on six maps which involve some kind of back story but the reviewer would have loved the option to sub out one of the team members for a friend.
The second point was lost due to the cover system implemented in this game. The reviewer never felt like firing whilst in cover came naturally. Moving out of cover to run forward or dart into cover elsewhere also proved interesting with Captain Martin Walker sometimes apparently deciding he had had enough of life and standing up into a stream of bullets. This proved very annoying with the spacing of the save points later on it the game. Sometimes even the controls felt slow to respond with run or cover commands being lost.
Finally half a point was deducted due to the tendency of AI team members to sit in cover and do nothing unless required to do so by a scripted event or actively told to do so by the player. In some of the larger fire fights this can be annoying as the reviewer had to break off, hold down the right bumper and select a target. To top it off, if the automatically chosen AI team member is out of range of the target they will quite happily break cover and meander into the middle of a fire fight in an attempt to shoot the target. To no real surprise this leads to them being shot and incapacitated at the most inconvenient of times. Additionally it is not possible to tell your members to move elsewhere, so having them take advantage of other covered areas to flank or pin down enemies is out of the question.
Having your team members throw stun grenades is only possible at certain stages during the game. Things would have been improved if team members picked up grenades from the grenade boxes scattered to store in their inventories until the player ordered them to throw them.
Overall Spec Ops: The Line has a strong story line set in a fresh location which more than makes up for the bland third person shooter elements.