Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Spec Ops: The Line

Spec Ops: The Line had me question my morals

7:00 AM on 11.22.2011 // Keith Swiader

I'll admit it: when I first saw Spec Ops: The Line's debut teaser back at the Video Game Awards a couple of years ago, I kind of just shrugged it off. It looked cool, but not to the point where I was hooked into following it from then on, so, I pushed it out of my mind.

You may have even thought 2K themselves ditched The Line, what with the lack of coverage in the recent years. That couldn't be further from the truth. The Line is still alive, and 2K utilized the last eighteen months gathering and working on feedback given from what was originally shown of it, and reworked the game into what it is today.

I wasn't quite excited walking into my two-hour demo of Spec Ops thinking I was going to be bored the whole time. However, I walked out a completely different person.

Spec Ops: The Line (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)
Developer: Yager
Publisher: 2K Games
Release: 2012

The Line is a military shooter, yes, but not in the typical "rah-rah" pro-war nonsense. The Line focuses heavily on the depth of the characters, and how they change dramatically during the course of the campaign. Where things start off as a cool, laid back kind of experience where you are essentially walking nonchalantly toward your objective, you soon learn the deeper backbone of the mission on task, and what exactly the results are caused by the antagonist.

The back story is that Col. John Konrad, leader of the Damned 33rd, was sent to Dubai to rescue civilians after a devastating sandstorm tore through the city. When attempting to get civilians outside of Dubai, they were hit by the worst sandstorm of all, and Konrad nor the 33rd were heard from again.

Six months later, your character, Capt. Martin Walker, voiced by Nathan Drake's Nolan North, and your rag-tag teammates are sent to the destroyed Dubai after a radio signal is picked up from there, with the sole mission of locating and rescuing any survivors.

And that's about the long and short of the plot, without spoiling anything, of course. Upon entering Dubai, things quickly start to turn for the worst, and a simple rescue mission soon unfolds into a desperate struggle for survival. Everything unfolds in a satisfying, cinematic fashion, which is so satisfying, in fact, that I can even confidently compare it to that of Uncharted. Yes, The Line's cinematic pacing is that good.

Cut-scenes smoothly transition from movie to gameplay with just the pan of the camera, and wild bits of excitement and set-piece moments have the camera shaking and angling appropriately, adding to the experience that Spec Ops is more than just a game -- it's a journey. That journey is geared toward being an emotional one. Through the course of the game you are asked to make decisions based on the mission at hand. As the story evolves and the game becomes darker in tone, so do the decisions.

The choice given to me was deciding who should die: a father who stole water for his family or the soldier who caught the him and killed his wife and kids. The two men are hanging from a bridge with snipers watching both of them, and a credible threat leaves me with little time to act.

I sat perplexed for a few minutes, and hadn't the slightest clue as to what I should do. While my first instinct was to be my evil self and kill both of them, I felt uneasy at that thought here, possibly because how real the scenario felt. The father did steal water, but it was for his family who was now killed by the hand of the soldier. But, I'm playing as a soldier, so does my allegiance lay there?

Ultimately, I killed the father, and I am not proud of it. But that is exactly the type of excellent experience Spec Ops: The Line offers. You will make decisions that you'll hate yourself for in the end, no matter which way you go. You realize that sometimes there isn't going to be a winner. In my case, someone had to die, no matter what, even if I chose to end both of the snipers. 

I evolved as a player during the course of my demo with Spec Ops: The Line, and walked away looking at the rationale of the decisions made. This even boiled down to whether or not I should perform Gears of War-style executions on the enemy, which I had done with excitement in the beginning, but ended up shooting mercy shots at them in the end.

This same sense of character evolution is also reflected on your teammates, who become more weary on what needs to be done in order to survive, and lose their light-hearted, humorous vibes as the realness of the mission becomes clearer to them.

Gameplay-wise, The Line plays out like a standard third-person shooter: there's a cover system, there's the ability to blind-fire, and you can give commands to your teammates at the press of a button.

The shooting feels intuitive and responsive, as does the command system. Pressing and holding the right bumper over an enemy will highlight them, and you teammates will effectively take them down. This aspect also comes into play when you are required to be stealthy, and your teammates will attach their silencers and quietly end the opposition.

While there is a multiplayer component, which will be revealed later on, Spec Ops: The Line is fully set on offering a dynamic campaign that has you question your ethics of combat, something that hasn't really been touched on in a third-person shooter, or a military shooter, for that matter.

I gave a great big sigh of relief as my demo concluded, and not in joy that it was over, but in that I finally had a moment to reflect on everything. It was then I realized Spec Ops: The Line just slapped me in the face with its superb offering, and made me regret ever doubting it.

Photo Gallery: (14 images)
Click to zoom - browse by swipe, or use arrow keys

Keith Swiader, Former Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure keithswiader Tips
Although Keith considers himself 'Destructoid's Man on the Streets of New York City,' it's actually a lie, as he lives closer to Long Island than anything. more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Spec Ops: The Line

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

Cblogs of 11/27/15 - Life is Strange, and Sad

Top 5 Reasons Star Wars Battlefront KICKS ASS!

Attack of the Friday Monsters: A Little Slice of Childhood

Top 5 Reasons Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 IS AWESOME!

Cblogs of 11/26/15 + Combat Heropon-isms

Video games go mainstream

I’m Not a SJW, I’m an Anthropologist: Making the Case for Diversity in Games

Insidia REVIEW - A whole dark, gloomy, and kinda creepy world to explore

DS REVIEWS: Trace Memory

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

NYCpunk avatarNYCpunk
you know what's not okay? scalpers with 10 copies of fire emblem fates SE on ebay for $200+. and no one is saying anything.
ChrisHannard avatarChrisHannard
Fallout 4 wouldn't be Fallout with ridiculous glitches and shenanigans. Here are a few I've run into - [youtube][/youtube]
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
I've never earnestly went drinking before so it's cool to know I'm the slow, sleepy, impaired type.
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Got to admit I didn't expect to find a mewtwo amiibo at my bookstore of all places...
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
My cousin found out I slept with his girlfriend and is pissed. Understandable. I am totally sick of the angry phone calls though. It reminds me so much of playing Call of Duty online. The screaming 11 year olds suck on there too.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Huh. Apparently even Japan has a Black Friday sale going on on PSN right now.
Lawman avatarLawman
Yes, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, I know that somebody has 2,625 more medallions than me. No, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, I don't really care.
Dr Mel avatarDr Mel
This fucking Bloodborne DLC, jesus. I'm on new game+, about level 90, and shit just tears my dick off. I don't know if I want to start another guy just to avoid NG+ and level him up, etc. sigh....
Shinta avatarShinta
Wii U, top selling black friday item on Take that you anti-Wii U people.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I am pretty hyped for when I get a laptop because I'll be able to have a good enough connection to stream XbOne/soon PS4 games to it along with natively rendered Steam games. Hype!
Avoclefo avatarAvoclefo
Got a PS4 that came with SW Battlefront this week, and planning on picking up the FFX/X-2 remake. Hype is through the roof, especially for FFX. If I were to get one other game, what should it be?
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Did a google maps search around my parents house for bars and there isn't one in like 25 miles, so I picked up an Intel compute stick and South Park: Stick of Truth on Steam. That's more or less the drunken screaming I'm in the mood for at about the cost.
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
Do you ever have that moment of clarity when talking to someone and suddenly realising: You're just a skull, and they're just a skull, with fucking eyeballs and a sac of skin being the only comparative difference between you visually? ..just me then?
Nathan D avatarNathan D
After quitting for two days out of frustration, I beat Ludwig on my first try of the night. I'm on cloud fucking nine right now.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
When I did my retail shift today, we were moving more Smash/Splat Wii U bundles and the Gears/Rare Replay/Ori XB1 bundles than Uncharted and Battlefront PS4s. I think Nintendo and MS have better value on their side this holiday. Sony got lazy.
Confuseddalek avatarConfuseddalek
I found this weird game called Samurai Heroes for 8 dollars today. Its not bad.
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
Got Deadpool, Arkham Asylum and BioShock 1 and 2 all for 30$. Not to bad for going Black Friday shopping late.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
If you haven't played Tales from the Borderlands yet, GO BUY IT! By far the funniest game I have ever played, and the characters and narrative are incredibly well written. Very few memes unlike BL2 by the way.
James Internet Ego avatarJames Internet Ego
Played all of Life is Strange today in one sitting. Bloody hell. You should all play it. Only game this year to make me cry. Bravo developers. Possibly the most valuable thing I've ever bought for £10.
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Last night, got farther than ever in Wasteland 2. This is my third playthrough-once thru beta, once through the orig version, now on Directors cut. Worth the restart, and it speaks highly of the game that I like it enough to do this. DAMONTA HERE I COME!
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -