GAME NAME: Spec Ops:The Line
PUBLISHER(S): 2k Games
PLATFORM(S): Xbox 360
RELEASE DATE(S): 26th June
For many years the Spec Ops series has tried to put players in the shoes of highly trained Navy Seals and Army Rangers. And while the series started off popular it lost steam over the years against other titles such as the Rainbow Six franchise. Eventually after poor sales and reviews developers halted work on any new entries and for many years the franchise seemed MIA. Until, that is, an announcement in 2009 that Spec Ops: The Line was in development and was taking things in a brand new direction with big promises of a strong narrative and lots of… sand.
Developer Yager were not lying about the sand part; hence the entire game being set in a dusty and crumbling Dubai after a massive sand storm has hit the city which forces everyone to evacuate. A small US force is sent in to help with the evacuation but a second, even bigger, sand storm hits and cuts off all radio contact. Your character Martin Walker, who is voiced by none other than Nolan North (we told you he is in everything), is then sent into Dubai with two other Delta Force squad mates on a covert recon mission to find out what happened and evacuate any survivors.
From there the story takes you and your squad mates on a twisted and dark journey that will see you faced with a few tough choices. The unique setting in a weathered Dubai and the strange findings as you progress will keep you ploughing through sand and bullet casings. As the game gets more and more intriguing the deeper into the heart the once-beautiful city you go. Very few games suck you in like Spec Ops: The Line and it won’t let you go until the last bullet is fired. That’s what makes it stand out from the sea of third-person cover-based shooters out there. Sure you have leaped over hundreds of waist-high walls in other games before. But this time it feels more purpose driven and that’s why it never gets repetitive. Also the backdrop of Dubai is refreshing and will have you doing camera pans a good couple of times while you take in the views.
The sand plays a bigger role than just destroying Dubai because you can use it as a weapon. Conveniently placed panes of glass and weak walls hold back tons of hot sand just waiting for a well aimed bullet or grenade to help turn the odds in a fire fight and engulf all your enemies. Not only that but grenades kick up sand and dust, blinding enemies briefly, and it makes for a nice visual effect as the sun shines through all the dusty action with some brilliant lighting effects. Weapons feel and sound powerful and enemies are not bullet sponges as seen in so many other shooters, one shot kills are common and very much welcome.
The multiplayer offering is the only weak point of the package but it is easily overshadowed by the brilliant single player campaign. Spec Ops:The Line proves that you can teach an old dog new tricks and that sometimes focusing on storytelling can be the difference between a game you remember fondly for years to come and a game that just gets buried in a sandstorm of generic shooters and forgotten in weeks.