In lieu of partying or whatever it is college kids are supposed to be doing, I decided that my number one priority this spring break would be to to replay Spec Ops: The Line. I joined the Spec Ops party a bit late, but the narrative really struck me in a way that few videogame stories have, and I have been slightly obsessed with it ever since.
So, with Brendan Keogh's 50,000 word analysis Killing is Harmless by my side, I went through it again. And it's even more interesting the second time, with its critique of the player, videogames, and military shooters in particular. If you haven't done that, I highly recommend it.
Ever since I first played Spec Ops, I've wondered whether or not it would influence future games and how it would do so. But since Spec Ops's release, there really haven't been any notable modern military games (Warfighter doesn't count). It turns out that Battlefield 4 will be the first. When I first saw that gameplay had been revealed, I was intrigued. When I read that DICE wanted "players to have a very emotional connection with the story and setting they're presenting," I was ecstatic. In my mind, this meant that the team had played Spec Ops, analyzed Spec Ops, and learned from Spec Ops. The game wouldn't be as soul-crushingly pessimistic (not a bad thing), but it would be a step ahead of the general military game narrative. So I went into the 17-minute long demo of Battlefield 4 excited, with Spec Ops's lessons fresh in my mind.
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