At a time when games are trying to reinvent themselves to stand out in the crowd, developer Yager’s latest tactical third person shooter, Spec Ops: The Line doesn’t even seem like it’s trying. The game has somewhat of a cool concept going for it as it takes place in post apocalyptic Dubai, a setting not seen in games till date, but beyond that, it feels like just another generic shooter.
What happened to Dubai?
You step into the boots of Martin Walker, a grizzled war veteran of sorts sent to Dubai to rescue U.S. Army Colonel John Konrad. Konrad and his team have gone silent after Dubai started getting ravaged by sandstorms, so you and your squad are sent in to find out what happened to them. But this isn’t the Dubai you probably visited last year during the Shopping Festival; it’s been devastated by ferocious sandstorms transforming the once flashy city into a desolate, savage cesspool of anarchy. The concept’s quite cool and as I entered Dubai, I was pretty impressed with the way Yager have recreated the city even though most of the city’s famous landmarks lay in ruins. It’s a pleasant change of place for locales, like New York that have been done to death in both games and movies.
The game, however is excessively brown and even if logic dictates that anything with a lot of sand should be brown, games like Journey and Uncharted 3 have shown us that desert levels don’t have to look that dull. Boring visuals aside, lackluster gameplay is what really drags this game down. You move from cover to cover, pop-up, shoot people and move on. That’s pretty much it. It isn’t different from the hundreds of shooters you’ve played before.
He's dead as dead can be
Your squad, like in most videos games is pretty dense and useless during most battles. You can command them to snipe a target in the distance or flash an enemy, but that’s it. Don’t go expecting a deeper squad system here, like you would in a Rainbow Six game. I bring up the Rainbow Six reference because I personally feel this game would have benefited from such an approach. Use stealth to try and take enemies out as discreetly as possible and if all else fails, then go in guns blazing.
Fundamentally, there’s nothing inherently wrong with Spec Ops: The Line. Gunplay seems solid, player animations looks all right and fighting tangos on what remains of Sheikh Zayed road is quite cool. However the whole package just lacks the ‘Oomph’ factor you’d expect from a full-fledged multiplatform title. Maybe level design will improve or gameplay actually gets more intense and enjoyable in the full version, but as it stands right now, Spec Ops: The Line is not a title we’re dying to play. However, you can check the demo out for yourself on the PlayStation Network and/or Xbox Live.