This single scene asks so much more of the player than any other game has. It isn’t just saying in this game you were a dick because I told you to be a dick. It is asking you if you really, honestly, think that every military shooter on the market is right. Is it correct to take people’s lives to live out your own power fantasy? How far are you willing to go to get the reward of being a hero? The entire scene is asking you to stop playing games as a kind of Skinner Box
- keep killing and we will keep rewarding you - and start questioning your motives and thinking for yourself. What have they done? Why am I killing? Do I have a choice?
From a personal note, I played this game through on my first time going for the last ending. There was no closure, no fanfare, and I felt empty for it. I did everything it asked me to, because I knew that if I did I would get another chapter. I would get another achievement. If I shot someone in the face with a shotgun, a fountain of blood would pop up with all the fanfare of a coworker giving me a thumbs up in the office. I felt nothing from the game, except the feeling that I missed something. I played through again through the scene with the white phosphorous only to get the same empty feeling.
After watching that scene again, and realizing that they were talking about me? I feel horrible. I fell right into their trap. They were right. I would pursue any goal, no matter how gory, to advance whatever narrative they drove. When I mentioned Bioshock above, it wasn’t simply for the community spoiler. It was also because this game pulls the same “would you kindly?” card. I am willing to do whatever a game asks me to do, regardless of context, just to advance the game. We trust that what we are doing is correct. If a game refused to progress unless you killed an infant, would you? Would you turn off the game and play something else? What if the game asked you to open fire on civilians in an airport? Spec Ops
takes a moment to ask, from one reasonable human being to another, what are we willing to do in a game to be entertained? How far will we go?
For me the answer to that question is, in a word, unsettling.
LOOK WHO CAME: