PS3 Reviews: Spec Ops: The Line Review

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Spec Ops: The Line Review

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Overall Rating:       6.6




2K Games


Yager Development

Number Of Players:




The longer you play Spec Ops: The Line, the more you realize what developer Yager was trying to do. However, although interesting and even stimulating, the concepts broached within this hectic adventure are mostly missed opportunities. While I always appreciate a nod to morality and philosophy in any form of entertainment, I can’t overlook the somewhat generic gameplay and the fact that clichés can - and do - infringe upon higher artistic aspirations.

The graphical presentation is decent without making a big fuss about it. For a production that thrives on intense military gun battles, I was a little surprised at the lack of visual firepower. It’s not particularly flashy or exquisitely detailed and although a few of the animations and special effects are cool, the visual style seems a little outdated to me. Furthermore, it almost looks like there’s a filter that turns vibrant color into a more pastel style. The environmental design is very good, though.

The audio is hit or miss depending on where you are in the campaign. If you’re in the midst of a wicked battle, you might get a little tired at hearing the same exclamations over and over. “Grenade!” and “Tango down!” top the “most repeated” list. Then again, you’ve got Nolan North (yep, the voice of Uncharted’s Nathan Drake) as Captain Walker, an overall solid group of voiceover performers, and an effective soundtrack. It’s just interrupted by the aforementioned repetition and some lackluster attempts at enhancing the atmosphere via stereotypical background effects.

Though I have accused the game of going heavy on the military clichés and stereotypes, the plot itself isn’t your boring, run-of-the-mill drama. Yager puts together an intriguing story, where the city of Dubai is besieged by massive sandstorms. Initially, Colonel Konrad and a crack team of infantry soldiers stay behind during the worst of the storms; their goal is to evacuate as many citizens as possible. But things go terribly wrong and Konrad and Co. disappear into the swirling, concealing sands.

That’s where Captain Walker and his Delta Force team come into play. You play as Walker and you’ll have two buddies backing you up. Spec Ops might technically be labeled a squad-based third-person shooter but to be clear, the command-giving strategy is as simple and streamlined as possible. If a particular foe has you pinned down, you simply hold R2, hover your aiming reticule over that enemy, and release R2. At that point, Walker gives the command for his allies to focus their fire on that one target.

Tapping R2 has one of your guys toss out a stun (flash) grenade, and if one of them falls, you can order the other to heal the incapacitated dude by holding R2, aiming, and releasing. Easy as pie. You don’t need to order them to take certain positions; they’ll do that on their own, and they’re not bad. And most of the time, they dutifully fulfill their duty, so you don’t usually have to worry about them failing to execute any given order. Control is simple, too; you hit X to take cover, hold X to sprint, hit Circle to vault over an obstacle, Triangle switches weapons, and L2 is for grenades.

If this sounds familiar, that’s because there’s really nothing in the basic gameplay structure of The Line that’s going to feel fresh or inspired. This really is my biggest problem. It’s great that there’s not anything necessarily broken, and it’s a breeze to pick up and play, but shouldn’t I be expecting a bit more…? Besides, the enemy AI is really dense; they’ll often stand out in the open and get mowed down, and they even select terrible cover positions. They’re not totally braindead, though, and you can count on dying quite often. Control mechanics are a breeze…the quest itself is not.

Part of that is due to the inherent difficulty of the mission. The other part is unfortunately due to some design errors in my opinion. For instance, the enemy always has a ready supply of grenades, and not only are they deadly accurate with them, you can’t get away easily. There’s no dodge option, so getting away from grenades is often a death-defying sequence of leaving cover and sprinting away through a hail of bullets. Then there are the shotgun-toting foes who don’t just carry shotguns; they carry super duper shotguns that do maximum damage even over long distances.

But let me address the moral choices Walker and his team face during the course of the story. This really could’ve been the best part of the game (and in retrospect, it still might be the best part), but not enough was done to bring it out. Our choices do have an impact and there are some supremely tense situations, but it’s all bogged down beneath some tedious gameplay that, while often entertaining, just fails to impress. The last potentially innovative aspect centers on the much-discussed impact of those sandstorms, which is admittedly a sweet feature.

Shooting out windows to let the sand bury your enemies is always fun, and things get a little dicey when you’re caught in one of those storms outside. It’s a nice addition but much like the morality element, it just feels underwhelming. You can also shoot out the glass foes are standing on and watch them plummet to the ground, and other environmental elements – such as things that go boom – infuse the campaign with a bit more flavor and style. But it just isn’t enough in my eyes, as we’re left wanting more of…well, just about everything.

The bottom line is that there are several great ideas here, but they’re sort of mired beneath the weight of a generic shooter. The multiplayer isn’t overwhelmingly great, either, and despite a really solid story with a lot of potential, a few compelling characters, and an immersive, challenging environment, Spec Ops: The Line doesn’t make good on its lofty claims. It’s usually fun and the control makes it accessible, but that just isn’t enough these days. No real "oomph" here.

The Good: Decent soundtrack, and some good voice work. Simple, streamlined mechanics. Squad control is easy to grasp. Campaign is lengthy and challenging. The morality/philosophy segments are mildly interesting.

The Bad: Graphics aren’t impressive. Enemy AI is on the stupid side. Not enough done with the sandstorm idea. No dodge option. Just underwhelming and generic-feeling.

The Ugly: ‘Indifference’

6/26/2012 Ben Dutka

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New Comment System

Legacy Comment System (8 posts)

Deleted User []
Tuesday, June 26, 2012 @ 10:17:58 PM

Generic is right, Ben. I've seen it all before. Same cookie-cutter characters, dialogue and enemies. I did like the main villain as he reminded me of Adrian Cronauer from Good Morning, Vietnam. Also, Dubai is a great setting for a video game. I'm surprised it hasn't been featured more often. Hearing Jimi Hendrix's rendition of The Star Spangled Banner was also nice. Too bad the bells and whistles don't cover up the generic feel.

Funny fact: On Steam, if you pre-ordered the game, 2K Games would give you Duke Nukem Forever for free alongside your upgraded version of Spec Ops. LOL.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012 @ 10:21:56 PM

I don't care what anybody says about Duke, once you get past the disappointment and outdated gameplay it's fun to screw around in :)

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012 @ 10:20:53 PM

IGN = 8.0, lol.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012 @ 5:10:31 AM

TheSixthAxis = 9.0

Metacritic score = 77

Last edited by frostface on 6/27/2012 5:11:16 AM

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012 @ 10:50:54 PM

I couldn't even finish the demo. That's when you know it's a bad game.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012 @ 5:18:21 AM

Thanks for the review Ben. This was a game I was (still am interested in).

I'm a little conflicted though. I've read some other reviews on the web and they name some of the same issues you brought up and scored it higher. Even your review makes the game seem like it'd be closer to an 8. But I don't pay too much heed to scores.

Taking all the reviews into account, I may still try this though maybe as a rental.

The demo was decent enough imo, nothing special, I can see where you're coming from by calling it generic, but it was fun. I didn't mind the graphics either but yeah I've seen better.

It's sounds to me like a really solid game but it takes a bit of looking passed some stuff. But Homefront was the same and that to me anyway was one of last years best.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012 @ 6:06:54 AM

hey ben i gotta ask you something.
every argument we have had, if you can call insulting me and acting like a spoiled brat an argument, you have said your right because the majority of "critics" agree with you.
but this time the majority dont, most reviews have been 8s, some 9s and a few 7s.
so far your the lowest, so what does that mean?

anyway, looking forward to getting this tomorrow!
awesome to hear its getting some prequel DLC soon which will feature a co-op campaign!
i just hope this is the first game that actually delivered on the character development and story emphasis.
so many games this gen have promised to have branching storyline and change the story based on your actions, but they havent really.
and choices have really not been that hard to make.
hopefully for once this is a game that makes promises and meets them, instead of a game that makes promises and as usual never keeps them.
as the saying goes dont write checks you cant cash!

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012 @ 6:24:16 AM

Thanks for the review Ben. Seems like another one im interested in turns out to b another summer flop. Thank god for backlogs. I had high hopes for this and The Amazing Spider-Man but both seem to be flops to me. Hurry up September get here im bored. Borederlands 2 in september cant wait.

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