E3 10: First look at Spec Ops: The Line

Recommended Videos

I had ignored Spec Ops: The Line when I first heard about it, due entirely to the fact that it had Spec Ops in the title, and thus made itself sound like the world’s most generic military shooter. Then I heard you could drown your enemies under tons of sand. I started paying attention. 

So it has come to pass that I swung by 2K Games’ booth to check out Spec Ops: The Line. I got to watch a demo run of the game in order to learn about the story, the gunfire and, of course, the tons of sand. Read on for Destructoid’s initial look at this dusty shooter. 

The Line is set in the near future, where Dubai has been all but abandoned thanks to a series of destructive sandstorms. In a narrative that takes its inspiration from the short story Heart of Darkness, the plot involves Captain Martin Walker and his two buddies, sent into the sand-blitzed city to track down the trecharous US army colonel John Konrad. Branching story paths leading to alternate endings are in the pipeline for a game that puts a heavy focus on narrative.

The game’s foundations are rooted firmly in cover-based shooter territory, although the combat looks to be far more up close and personal as opposed to ranged potshot fighting. The gunfights are intense and fast paced, and the sundrenched Dubai makes for a unique backdrop to the violence. Better than the murky grey that infests most current generation shooters. 

Of course, the sand is the star of the show, and it appears that developer Yager has really worked to make it an integral part of the gameplay. Most of Dubai is covered in the stuff, and it seems to tumble from every building orifice. Its application in combat, however, is what makes it stand out. Shooting windows to let sand into buildings, or blasting a ton of the stuff onto groups of foolish opponents lends a new sense of strategy to more familiar shooting. 

In many ways, the sand feels as intertwined into the game’s atmosphere as the water in BioShock does. However, BioShock‘s water effects were dazzling while the sand in this early stage of the game doesn’t feel as breathtaking. Hopefully this is something Yager is working on as the game is still deep in development. I have a feeling the overall success of this game hinges on beautiful and ambitious sand effects. It’s going to have to look better than the competition in this regard if it’s to stand out.

As well as the sandy chicanery, The Line boasts a choice system. Don’t worry, this isn’t planned to be more moral choice buillshit, but rather a set of unique dilemmas that are based more around choosing a sensible approach to a situation rather than a “good or bad” black/white deal. I can’t say at this stage whether the ambitious plan for more compelling and “grey” choices will work, but I can share the example provided with the demo and let you make your own mind up. 

The demo’s conclusion involves one of the game’s bad guys executing civilians. One member of Walker’s Delta Force wants to save them. The other urges that the situation is too dangerous and could end badly if they get involve. In this instance, the player decided to intervene and save the hostages. Unfortunately, the situation was indeed worse than anticipated and Delta Force come under a hail of gunfire. In the ensuring chaos, one of the bad guys grabs a Delta Force member and waits for Walker to turn around before shooting him in the head. A squad mate dead based on a player decision. 

This one choice, for me, was very impressively pulled off, and while I maintain a healthy skepticism that such a feat can be pulled off repetitively over the course of the game, I really like the direction it’s going in. So far, Spec Ops: The Line looks like it could become a surprise hit, and may well be a game that deserves more attention than it gets. 

The generic name begs an emerging prejudice, but I say give it a chance and keep one eye on this game. It may turn out rather excellently. 


Destructoid is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more
related content
Read Article Warzone devs finally nerf the MORS rifle that could shoot through anything
sniper
Read Article Automaton Factory Striders have prompted a bold new tactic from players in Helldivers 2
helldiver using stratagem in helldivers 2
Read Article ALGS reveals talent lineup for Split 1 Playoffs next month
horizon from apex legends
Related Content
Read Article Warzone devs finally nerf the MORS rifle that could shoot through anything
sniper
Read Article Automaton Factory Striders have prompted a bold new tactic from players in Helldivers 2
helldiver using stratagem in helldivers 2
Read Article ALGS reveals talent lineup for Split 1 Playoffs next month
horizon from apex legends