|Spec Ops: The Line - FUBAR Edition|
|Developer: Yager Development (singleplayer) /Darkside Game Studios (multiplayer).
Publisher: 2K Games
Release Date: Out Now
Players/Online features: 2-8 online multiplayer
Spec Ops: The Line is best described as a third-person cover shooter with hint of squad-based tactics on the side. The player controls Delta Force Captain Martin Walker (voiced by serial videogame voice actor Nolan North) who is sent to Dubai to rescue a personal hero of his, a U.S. Army Colonel named John Konrad, who remained behind after most of the population were evacuated after catastrophic sand storms hit the city and rendered it a devastated, sand-clogged metropolis under martial law. You soon get attacked by a band of rogue civilians and then find that the US military unit sent to impose martial law is out of control, and anyone with a weapon is the enemy.
There are 24, mostly impossible to miss, collectibles to find in the form of Intel, and these items fill in a lot of the back story. I mentioned earlier that Nolan North supplies the voice for the playable character Captain Walker, and I found him instantly recognisable as Nathan Drake (from Sony’s Uncharted games). Now I’m sure Nathan dropped the odd F-bomb during his three adventures but Walker and his cohorts seem to go through the game eFFing and blinding all the fucking time, almost to the point of amusement on my part-and (I’m told) I swear and cuss a lot. Yes, the plot is surprisingly dark and adult in nature and you may well expect men in a combat situation to use less than polite language from time to time, but with dialogue this profanity-laden I wouldn’t have been surprised if the game had been titled Fuckin’ Spec FuckinOps: The Fuckin Line – Fuckin FUBAR Edition. Fuck..
I’d also like to make mention of one particular sequence in the game that I thought was daft beyond belief, and quite possibly irresponsible. A shootout with a heavily armoured gunner (like a Juggernaut in Modern Warfare 2) has such a bizarre, flashing lights on/lights off sequence that it’s likely to cause an epileptic seizure, even in people who haven’t experienced them before.
Scattered throughout Dubai are superbly modeled vehicles, both military and civilian, and it’s a surprise that none are drivable, although you do get to gun on a couple of helicopter rides which are possibly the game’s most visually impressive and exciting sequences.
The game brings a few new ideas, the best of probably set pieces where you can use the sandy environment to kill multiple enemies with avalanches, usually by breaking glass that’s holding tons of sand back. Another idea I haven’t seen before is the ability to flip turret machine guns around to face the other way-hwo many games have you come to an emplacement gun and found it useless because it’s pointing the wrong way and won’t traverse to point in the direction of the enemy?
There’s not as much stealth as I'd have expected from a game with this title-in fact, there was one hilarious moment when I equipped my suppressor and shot two chatting guards silently, at which point Captain Walker yells THREAT ELIMINATED! at the top of his voice to his two squad mates who are 6 feet away! This struck ne as being so funny that I had to reload the checkpoint and show someone else, but he didn’t do it again, apparently I’d been spotted by the two guards in the first attempt. As soon as I'd gone down the stairs my two squad mates reveal opposition to the mast enemy anyway so my initial attempt at stealth was pointless anyway. There is a section that rewards you with an achievement if you show some restraint and stealth, but it's completely optional.
If this sounds fully-featured then, well I guess it is, but the multiplayer game looks so inferior graphically to the campaign mode that it's hard to believe they’re related. It’s the norm for multiplayer maps to have less detail than campaign story levels but these maps are so low detail that it looks like a budget multiplayer title. The characters’ movement is so unrealistically sudden and fast that hitting an enemy with a sniper rifle is only going to happen with the doziest of enemies. Looks-wise the playable characters in the multiplayer game don’t really match up to those in the solo campaign either, they move in a less realistic way and when playing you feel like you’re ‘floating’ rather than running around. It's no wonder the online mode requires no access code, but at least you'll be able to try if you rent the game or buy it second-hand, and I suspect there’ll be a lot of used copies available soon. There is bonus content coming in September (in the form of a co-op challenge mode) and that could add some life to the game, but despite some obvious effort in places this particular multiplayer mode feels like a tacked-on afterthought compared to the likes of Gears of War 3 and Ghost Recon Future Soldier.
- Good-looking and well animated.
- Very effective cover mode mechanic and accurate aiming.
- A by-the-numbers plot turns out to be something more.
- Feels very linear and scripted.
- Disappointing multiplayer mode.