Unique story core of 'Spec Ops'

Spec Ops: The Line joins an increasingly crowded third-person shooter genre, following hard on the footsteps of the very good Ghost Recon Future Soldier.

 

Spec Ops: The Line

From: 2K Games

For: Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Four and a half stars (out of five)

 

Spec Ops, however, stands out in many ways, creating an experience you won't soon forget.

Set in Dubai six months after a devastating sandstorm has buried the city, Delta Squad is sent in to investigate strange radio messages being broadcast from the city.

The buried city provides a dynamic and unique setting, and as you get further into the game some of the environments are stunning.

As with any other third-person shooter released these days, it has a snap to cover system as well as quick controls to identify priority targets for your squad to eliminate. These controls work really well most of the time, although occasionally your squad will just continually fire at a wall the enemy is hiding behind or walk into the open and get killed, which can be frustrating when combined with the difficulty level of the game.

I made the foolish choice of starting on the hardest difficulty, and the game proved very challenging at times. Any time a Heavy soldier appears (the Spec Ops equivalent of a Juggernauts from Call of Duty), prepare to be looking at the (rather long) loading screen as you reload the checkpoint.

The best part of this game is the story.

At the start of the game, it appears to be a generic shooter as you plough through wave after wave of enemy, but getting past that and into the murky depths of the story is worth it.

Finding out about the horrors inside the city will drive you to keep playing. There are some genuinely memorable and shocking moments you will come across. I won't spoil any, but there are several moments I can't say I've ever seen in a game of this type before.

Spec Ops appears to be a regular game on the surface but it goes into some very dark material.

The focus on the human element of war and the human casualties of war, natural disasters and their aftermath is unique and brilliant.

The story really sucks you in and encourages you to persevere as you battle through the somewhat constant dying and reloading.

Another thing that sets Spec Ops apart from its direct competitors in the genre is the whole experience is seamless.

One chapter flows into another, often with big set-piece scenes, and there's no loading screens (other than when you die), which is in direct contrast to a game such as Future Soldier, where each mission is a self-contained episode.

This is really one of those games where you start it up and next thing you know its midnight.

Spec Ops really surprised me. I went into it expecting more of the same, and was blown away.

While it's by no means a perfect game, I can't recommend it enough.

Those looking for thought-provoking and unique storytelling should absolutely give this game a go.


- Simon Bishop.