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Spec Ops: The Line Review

Spec Ops is back! It’s been 10 years since the last Spec Ops game and this time it's set in post apocalyptic Dubai where everything is not quite going to plan. But does the latest in the series hold the line or cross it?

The campaign of Spec Ops: The Line follows the story of Captain Martin Walker and the rest of the tight knit Delta squad as they are sent into the sandstorm ravaged, post apocalyptic Dubai to investigate a transmission from Konrad, the leader of the 33rd battalion who defied orders and stayed behind to help with the evacuation. However afterwards, the team are ambushed by insurgents and it looks like things aren’t quite what they seem in this sandy hell.
Man down!
Spec Ops also features pivotal points in the story where you must make a decision that affects the way the game plays out. For example at one point you must decide whether to save a CIA agent who would be able to explain what is going on, but would cause a huge fire fight or let the agent die and save civilians instead, without alerting the enemy to your presence. The members of Delta squad make these decisions even harder as they will both try and push for the outcome they think is more important. The team sniper, Lugo, will question decisions made by the Captain whereas Adams stays loyal and has full trust in you. As the game plays out your team members clash and on one occasion have a full on fist fight. These moments are also based on the decisions you make.

Overall the story was very immersive and also haunting. There are points in the story where I found myself stunned at what was happening, although I don’t want to give away too much. Towards the end of the game I was so eager to find out what the hell was going on and when I did I was even more eager to see how it would end.

Spec Ops is your typical third person cover shooter. Although on occasion, the cover system has played up which usually ends up with me being left standing in the middle of a gun fight desperately trying to duck behind a burnt out car. It’s not just the number of guns that you have but the environment is also a key factor in order to change the tide of battle in your favour. Scattered throughout levels are places where sand has built up and is just waiting to drop onto your opponents. A few well-placed shots into some glass will send a torrent of sand onto enemies, killing most and stunning the rest. This gives you an advantage and is definitely useful on the harder difficulties where every shot really does count.
Will you stop shooting at this fine car please!?
Spec Ops also feature a variety of different weapons, which allow you to play in the style you prefer. Enemies also drop weapons which you can use to switch up your play style if the situation requires. So no more running around with a sniper rifle in close quarters, unless you really want to of course! In between the action there are moments when you are able to explore destroyed and deserted buildings, so this is usually where you will find Intel. Intel items that are scattered around the levels also allow the player to find out more about the horrific events that have taken place in the city since the storms first hit.

In the single player campaign you are also able to give the other members of your squad orders. Your team consists of 2 members as well as the player. Lugo is the team marksman and can pick off targets from extreme distances. Adams is in possession of a light machine gun, meaning he can lay down a cover fire while you advance on the enemy. This allows you to mark a target to be killed by your team sniper Lugo or select a target for suppression by Adams so you are able to flank. Not forgetting the ability to tell your team to stun the opposition that allows you to take out enemies behind turrets or well dug in cover.
Now I know what Tarzan feels like.
Missions tend to be an all out gunfight the whole way through but on a few occasions this is mixed up through stealth missions where you must sneak around enemies as opposed to engaging them. Sandstorms also mix up gameplay by changing the battlefield completely. One minute you could be fighting in cover rich courtyard, only to have a sandstorm completely envelop the cover and leave you completely out in the open, although this doesn’t favour the enemy either as they are usually left in the same situation as you and your team. The sandstorm really keeps things tense as you have no idea how the battlefield will look once the storm passes. This gives battles a sense of unpredictability and surprise.

Online Gameplay
The game also features a competitive multiplayer mode in which players can play a number of different game types in many different locations within the ruined city. Game types include team death matches as well as escort the Intel matches, where teams must capture Intel and then transport it to a random location on the map. All game types are also playable on regular and hardcore settings if the player feels like a challenge. Sandstorms also play a big part in the multiplayer as they can randomly spawn at any time during a match. In one instance the match started and within a few minutes a sandstorm had kicked up and completely changed the landscape of the level, making some objectives a lot harder to complete and others easier. The addition of this feature in Multiplayer really mixes up the action but also keeps you on your toes, as you don’t know what could happen next. Whilst playing the multiplayer I didn’t have any trouble finding games or staying in one.

The multiplayer features a lot of customisation options. The player is able to customise their profile with badges and titles, which are gained by completing certain objectives and tasks, such as 100 headshots etc. The player can also customise the load outs of classes so that you can tweak your weapons to your play style.

The visuals suit Spec Ops perfectly as the environments have a surprising amount of detail put into them and I often found myself walking around the buildings of Dubai just looking at the carnage that the storm and people have left behind. The game’s lighting is done very well and fits different sections of the game perfectly. From the blistering desert sunlight to the dark and gloomy basements scattered around the buildings of Dubai. There are moments where a story is told just through the environment such as a bedroom or ransacked apartment. The sand, which plays such a huge part of the game, also appears realistic. Whether it is being blown off the top of a dune by a gentle breeze or rushing through a window you just smashed. Delta squad are also quite interesting to look at as the game goes on. At the start the team look fresh and ready but as you progress they all begin to look a bit rougher around edges as the struggle through the apocalyptic city takes its toll on the team. With Captain Walker this is especially apparent.
Awesome environments.
The sandstorm swept Dubai makes a great setting and seeing how the people have had to live in these conditions while they waited for evacuation really adds atmosphere to sections of the game. Whilst I played through I didn’t come across any graphical problems other than the occasional gun floating in mid air after an enemy had been killed. This was rare however.

The soundtrack to the game comes in the form of a radio DJ who works for the enemy. There are times when you are exploring the city and the DJ provides a light-hearted, yet deeply disturbing commentary to events. The DJ also plays a selection of rock songs, which really fit when you are in an intense gunfight against enemy soldiers. The sound design also reflects how the team are feeling throughout the mission, as a simple “I’m reloading” becomes a rage filled grunt. All the weapons sound great and the use of silence is also a common feature within the game. There are times when all that can be heard is the sound of footsteps and the wind. It really sets the atmosphere and makes the game quite eerie at points.

Final Verdict
The latest instalment in the Spec Ops series is a solid game. Other than a few technical issues with the cover system, the online multiplayer is fun and unpredictable but the single player campaign is where the game really shines. The story is surprisingly moving and also has a number of twists and turns that will definitely surprise the player as the game goes on.

Story: 10/10
Gameplay: 8/10
Graphics: 9/10

We Know Gamers Final Score: 9/10
Had a chance to play the game? Tell us what you thought in the comments section below!
Spec Ops: The Line Review
Reviewed by Citizen Cyanide
on Jul 20 2012

Rating: 9/10

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