I played through Spec Ops The Line shortly after its release, then I played through it two more times. I found it to be quite brilliant, for a few reasons.
I hadn't thought about it for awhile, until last night. I read that the lead writer of the game, Walt Williams, has a theory that the helicopter crash near the end of the game killed Walker, and that the rest of the game took place in Purgatory. This seemed plausible enough, and I really liked the idea. I mulled it over awhile and then remembered that the player plays through the helicopter scene twice, and witnesses the crash twice. At the time I thought this was just to get the player interested, just a flash-forward to start the game off with a bang. However I thought about it some more and noted that during the second time, Walker comments about how he's sure they've done this already, and seems somewhat vexed. I thought, perhaps it's not a flash forward, but a flashback. This brought me to the theory that, except for the first helicopter segment, the entire game takes place in Purgatory. Walker dies in the first crash, and the game is a reliving of the events that led up to Walker's death.
I noticed that a complaint that many people had, was that the game forced you into doing bad things, and then berated you for doing them. I believe this is because Walker already made the choice to do those things, the first time, when the player wasn't there, now during the reliving, he 'has' to do them again. The player doesn't have a choice, because Walker had made the choices already before he died, that is before the player showed up. There are a few choices the player can make here and there, but then don't effect anything at all really. Perhaps a sign that it's too late for Walker to do anything now. It's all been done. The whole experience is a punishment for Walker's actions, and the player's along for the ride.
I also noted that for most of the game, you only ever move downwards, down the ropes at the beginning, down through the glass roof, down into the market, down ziplines, falling down through the lobsided building and so on. The state the city is in largely resembles what many imagine Hell/ Purgatory would look like. The path of the game follows a nightmarish descent, physically and metaphorically.
They always say 'War is Hell', maybe this game was putting it literally.
(PS: Excuse the sloppiness of this post. It's my first on Dtoid and my first on anywhere in a long while.)
(PPS: I know Purgatory and Hell are different things and what not but ssshhhhhhh, you get the idea.) read