23 July 2013 | HarryRidgway
This game sends shivers down my spine
Spec Ops: The Line is a third-person military shooter that, despite its appearance, is a game that has never been done in the video game medium, or at least to this affect.
You become Captain Martin Walker. That's right, you don't just play as him, you become him. The game is so well done in the way it makes you and Walker merge into one figure. His problems become your problems, which isn't the best thing since the troubles he faces are quite heartbreaking.
The game focuses on Walker as he and two of his men are sent to Dubai, six months after a deadly sandstorm practically crushed the city. Dubai was thought to be dead until a message was picked up two weeks prior to Walker's mission. It was from Colonel John Konrad, presumed K.I.A after risking his life to save the citizens of Dubai. The transmission, short but distressing, was as follows:
"This is Colonel John Konrad, United States Army. Attempted evacuation of Dubai ended in complete failure. Death toll...too many."
Walker and his team have orders to find civilian life and call it in, then they get to go home. But as the game so accurately states "You can leave Dubai, but Dubai can't leave you."
Once you and your comrades reach the border of the city, it becomes quite clear that something has gone horribly wrong. And one gunfight leads to another and now your main mission has gone way of course, all thanks to Captain Walker.
Now, to be blunt, this is one of the best stories to be put in the video game medium and one of my favorite stories ever. It's based on the book 'hearts of Darkness' by John Conrad and the argument could be made that this game is superior to both that book and Apocalypse Now, since for those two you were just a witness, but in this game, it is very much all your fault.
The story is a very, very affecting wake up call. It has moments that have not been matched and I doubt they will for a while. The journey you take is so unique that nothing has been made that's close to it. Think of the most disturbing movie you've seen I almost guarantee this game will be even more so. But, even though this game is the fuel for night terrors, it is so, so well written, directed, acted and told that it's an experience I'll guarantee you'll keep and want to keep forever. I cannot put into words my feelings for this story, I guess it is just too good for words.
Now from the strongest part of the game to the weakest: the movement and combat system. It is basically frustrating as hell. We've seen all these mechanics before in such games as COD and Gears of War, but here it isn't as smooth. It's horrible when you want to advance in the story as quickly as possible but you can't since the controls are so clumsy. But, this game isn't about the guns or the controls, so that is a small problem (unless you play on hard, then you'll be throwing any objects at your TV).
The visuals of the game are stunning. I won't say beautiful since there are lot of disturbing sights in this game, but it is certainly stunning.
The voice acting is something that has never been matched. I might be exaggerating a bit (I don't think so though) but I think Nolan North's (the voice of Captain Walker) voice acting is some of the best vocal work I've heard. An important thing to point out is the progression of the player. He starts with the proper war talk "Enemy down" or "target is neutralized." But as the game goes on and you and your character get more devastated and broken, Walker's dialogue turns to "Kill is f***ing confirmed!" and "Got the f***er!." But alongside North are his two comrades, Lugo and Adams, both voiced brilliantly from Omid Abtahi and Christopher Reid respectively. Jake Busey is another voice that is brilliantly used as the character called 'the radioman.' This character along with Konrad has some of the best lines. Besides North and Busey, I think the standout in the cast would be Bruce Boxleitner who voices Konrad. Konrad is given so many excellent lines and Boxleitner delivers them perfectly. It's rare to find a game with this caliber of voice acting.
The soundtrack is one that really makes you feel like a hero, which you'll find, is something very important to the story. Old classics are mixed with new songs to create a perfect and thumping soundtrack. A couple of standout moments where the soundtrack adds another layer of greatness is when you're talking to a guy called 'the radioman' who's got you trapped. He then plays "Nowhere to run" over the speakers. Another standout is when you're racing to a convoy of trucks and you're fighting your way to the middle of a stadium. You can use stealth to get in there, but if that fails, then the enemy will turn on the radio with the song "Gladgow Mega Snake" by Mongwai (To alert other troops). With the inclusion of the song blaring around the stadium and enemies trying to viscously kill you, it make for one of the most tense moments I've witnessed in recent memory.
If only Spec Ops had an at least solid control system, then the game would have been absolutely flawless, but still, Spec Ops: The Line has one of the best stories in video games and it is one one of my favorite stories ever. It shoves so many disturbing things in you face and is saying "Do you feel like a hero yet? I hope you're proud of your work."