Your sprinting through the blinding sandstorms in Dubai, the sun baking down on your back, cover is ten yards in front of you and as if you were back home sliding through second base you make it into cover ready to take the fight to the enemy.
Welcome to Spec Ops: The Line.
From the off, the game’s biggest strength shines like Batman’s beacon, the plot. It is not only immersive, but thought provoking and will have you questioning your own morales whilst playing through. The game’s setting begins six months into your deployment in Dubai, which is currently being ravaged by constant sand storms. The ‘Damned’ 33rd Battalion of the United States Army come in to help give aid and evacuate any Emiraties within the province before they fall foul of the conditions.
The US government at some point decided to abandon all relief efforts, alas Colonel Konrad, the Commanding Officer of ‘The Damned’, went against those orders and became deserters. Dubai was soon classed as ‘No-Mans Land’ and the US government disowned the 33rd, citing numerous reasons, most notably, treason.
You, a Delta Operative, along with your colleagues Adams and Lugo, are sent in to gauge the situation. What you’ll find is pretty grim, and you’re soon fighting off not only the native insurgents, but also members of the 33rd themselves who mistake you for the CIA. The story continues on and as you will see for yourself, is extremely gripping. Even when the end finally comes around there are four possible outcomes, depending on the outcome more often than not you’ll want to have another crack at it just to see how the story unravels, four times over.
In terms of gameplay, The Line will again surprise you. Although it is by no means unique it does what it supposed to, and does it well. Once you start running through the dunes, you will soon realise that it is very Gears of War-esque, with Walker being able to vault over objects, slide into cover and cruise across objects. That’s not to say that Yager haven’t added their own little twist on the game’s various mini-battles.
These mini-battles is exactly what this game is all about. As you come to a new mini-battlefield, you will have to start thinking very tactically as your choices and decisions will affect what your colleagues do. You’ll have to scan the road ahead (well dune) and decide how best to dispatch your enemies. What’s more, you can order Adams and Lugo to fire on specific targets, perfect for cover fire or simply to dispatch the opposition a lot quicker.
Once the firefight begins the game truly throws you into the thick of it. You’ll see and hear bullets whiz past your head. When you shoot an insurgent he will react as if actually being shot, take out his left arm and he’ll jolt to his left, take out his leg and he’ll fall to the ground, head shot… lights out. Even the ammunition supply seems a lot more realistic in comparison to your GoWs and CoDs, you have to limit yourself and switch off your gun’s ‘Automatic’ as you will soon realise that every round needs to hit it’s intended target or empty clips is all you’ll be left with, oh that and staring down the barrel of an enemies smoking AK47.
At times the game does suffer a few niggles. When a grenade is thrown your way it is very difficult to dodge it, or even throw it back. You can also fall foul of your own team mate trying to dispatch an enemy from a yard away with an RPG or grenade instead of using his fists. Generally though the experience is both realistic and rather full-filling.
Sadly, the game’s multiplayer is quite a let down, in part due to the lack of activity on Xbox LIVE. When you first enter the Spec Ops Multiplayer world you’re met with a very inviting amount of weapon unlocks, title unlocks and game mode unlocks. Alas when you attempt to enter lobbies you soon find yourself at times waiting 20-30 minutes to find a game, and this is only when you play the Team Deathmatch, with anything else you can find yourself waiting even longer. Once you do get into the game it just isn’t that exciting, almost like there is something missing. Graphically speaking it also seems to have taken quite a large jump down from the campaign’s visuals, and as such looks fairly basic.
Continuing on from the graphics, as said above, the campaign mode actually looks pretty smart for the most part. When you find yourself engulfed by sandstorms it can be quite a harrowing experience. Also when you’re standing atop a sky scraper, looking down on some random Dubai city, the cityscape is quite awe-inspiring, and you can happily sit there for a moment quite literally taking in the view. The character textures do at times flicker, but it’s easy to look past this as for the most part it looks pretty suave.
Overall this game has come out and hit the ground running with a superb storyline and some tactically intense warfare thrown in for good measure. The multiplayer may be a let down, luckily if anything it can work as a positive for this game as it gives you even more reason to finish the campaign mode and run through it again to fully understand the decisions you have made whilst playing as Walker.
It may not be winning any awards, that’s not to say that this is one of the most captivating shooters currently available to Xbox 360 users. The morality of your choices has never been so well presented as they are in Spec Ops: The Line and for that reason alone it’s a game that everyone should experience, if only for a few short hours.