This yearís E3 had a bit of dark turn for the industry. While the games that was shown looks to be impressive and fun, they are not without controversy. The one being is that the violence shown was a bit extreme, while the end product may have a different feel for the game, having them sprung up like neo lights with loud dubstep over the trailer, showing the glorification of violence. From the colorful landscapes of Far Cry 3, to the brain ripping aspect of God of War: Ascension, violence was all that was shown. Even Ubisoft had to show violence in their Splinter Cell: Blacklist demo just to be noticed.
Letís take that a step back for a minute. Lets look at these games that has shown violence, While some are taking the realistic approach, some are taking it a step into the fantasy. While I have no problem with the violence in games, I just want it to keep it that way. One game, however, shows the very horrors of war and violence that you will inflect on others, even if you want to or not.
THE LINE THAT ONCE WAS
Spec Ops: The Line is a must play. Inspired by Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, which later became the movie Apocalypse Now. The story of Spec Ops: The Line begins with you and your small team heading into Dubai to find a man named Conrad. As they go deeper and deeper into the sand covered city, they will know the horrors of war and they will come out a changed person, and you will too. I wonít say I know the real horrors of war, because I donít. Out of all the games out there, I would say that this could be the closest. The lines between doing what is right and what is wrong is real blurry in this game. Itís not as simple as Mass Effect where they tell you the options. In Spec Ops, you donít have the time to think over what you need to do. This is unlike anything Iíve ever seen. The choices you make impacts your character and your teammates. The best part about it is that it feels that you are part of the team. You call the shots, they will disagree with you, and by the end of the game it feels that you become Walker.
The game does everything in its power to get you mad. From the overpowered Heavy to the runners. Almost every fight comes with its challenges. While this may be what you want, keep in mind that it does come with difficultly spikes. I feel this is manly due to the fact that ammo is really scarce. If you find that you are nearly out of ammo and pick up a weapon, that weapon may have less than what you had before. This makes some of the battles too difficult. One of the most refreshing aspect in this game is that most of the enemies are not bullet sponges. It just takes a few rounds to drop them. So you donít need to spray half your magazine in them. Except for the Heavy, The Heavy is willing to take several grenades just to fall, this is if you manage to shower it with bullets. They are the most overpowered in the game, and it feels pretty good to take one down. What doesnít feel good is some of the decisions you have to make. Sometimes you wonít know what happened til itís too late. This questions the very thing that nearly all video games donít question. Am I the bad guy, or the good guy? Are you doing this because itís an order? Or because you can? The only game that does that comes close to that is Metal Gear Solid 4, but that is because you found out the true intentions of the Liquid Ocelot near the end of the game, and still it doesnít even come close.
A big part of this game is the sand. Most of the time it feels like the sand is just there only for show, but every once in a while there would be a sand storm, and that is when the game becomes the most thrilling. You canít see in front of you, and you can see what is going on. Unlike Uncharted 3′s sand where the enemy sees you as bright as day, the enemy here wonít see you much also, but that does not mean you should get reckless. They will see you, but there would be a good chance that you will see them first. The sand storm aspect breaks up the pace of the game and gives you that reminder of what had happened to Dubai.
Red with Rage
The voice cast is amazing, but with one noticeable flaw; Nolan North. Nothing wrong with Nolan North, but heís been in too many games. One scene reminded me of Uncharted, and this greatly helped because of Nolan North. Sometimes, Walker will say something after killing someone, and I canít help but think of Nathan Drake. Everyone else is fantastic though. You feel what the other person is thinking. One scene I had to choose to end someoneís misery or walk away. I choose walk away, but the voice acting was so great that, even as I continued on, kind of made me wish I ended it. Then again, what he did, he deserved it. It helps that the writing in this is strong. There wasnít a single corny line, or a bad reading. It pokes fun of itself sometimes to lighten the dark mood, and it just hits you in the gut with what your teammates do or donít do.
This game does allow for multiple play through to see the different endings the game has, and a multiplayer. The multiplayer feels tact on. I only played one match, and even then it felt that there wasnít really anyone playing. We did manage to get a full team going, but the match had already gone on for ten minutes. Itís really nothing special about it. Youíll likely play it once to see if itís good and then move on to your favorite multiplayer game. The pace of the matches is slow, but sadly I donít think anyone will do any slow paced shooters. It would seem refreshing for that to happen and it would be actually be fun. If you played other multiplayer games, youíve played a version of this also. Third person or first person, doesnít matter. This is tact on.
The game looks to be in the generic side, but the vibrate colors of Dubai makes it feel almost alive. The graphics are mediocre at best, even for an Unreal Engine game, but the frame rate never drops and it never skips. Itís a solid ground work that I expect nothing less of the Unreal Engine.
Despite itís difficulty spikes and weak multiplayer, every one that is old enough should play this game. While itís not the best out there, it does show you the horrors of war. Not from what you see and do, but what the psychological effect it has on people. Choices breed psychological troubles. And for Spec Ops: The Line there is nothing like it out there. Thankfully, this wonít be the last we see the true effect of violence in games. Naughty Dogís Last of Us seems to take that same approach to. This is something that games needs right now. Not glorification of violence, but to show the brutal reality of it, and doing so in the safest way possible. If you do decide to play it other than that, at least you have a very solid game to play.