PS3A Writer’s GOTY: Spec Ops: The Line
2012 has had its fair share of ups and downs within the gaming community, and since the world didn’t end last week, we’re picking our favorites out of the year. Stefhutch20 kicked things off yesterday with a tribute to his favorite release, Final Fantasy XIII-2.
While there have been some strong contenders for my personal choice for Game of the Year such as Journey or Borderlands 2, none have impressed me more than Spec Ops: The Line. From its immersive story to its strong gameplay, Spec Ops: The Line has left a lasting impression on me, enough that it has claimed my pick for Game of the Year.
Released towards the end of June, Spec Ops: The Line slipped under the radar for many people. There wasn’t that much of a marketing presence by 2K Games and what little promotional material there was made it appear like just another addition to the super soldier shooter genre. As it turns out, the game was anything but generic.
My first experience with Spec Ops: The Line came at E3 just a few weeks before it was released. I was at the 2K Games booth checking out the much hyped Borderlands 2 when I saw a row of demo kiosks for The Line with few people around. After playing for a decent amount of time, I left unimpressed. The demo threw you in the middle of a firefight with little to no explanation of what was going on. By all accounts, it looked like just another third person shooter. It wasn’t until I played the game in full that I realized just how amazing it was.
Spec Ops: The Line thrusts you into a war set in Dubai, where the buildings have been taken back by Mother Nature. You play as Captain Martin Walker, voiced by none other than Nolan North, who must lead your team consisting of Lieutenant Alphonse Adams and Staff Sergeant John Lugo into the city and carry out a reconnaissance mission after a mysterious radio message was received by former Colonel John Konrad, leader of the disavowed 33rd Battalion. What they find is nothing short of chaos and destruction.
War is never pretty and Spec Ops: The Line does a fantastic job at emphasizing that. Throughout the game you reach specific checkpoints where you’re given two choices. These choices are never easy to make as the options you have are either bad or worse. One such scenario forces you to decide whether or not to shoot one of two unarmed civilians that have been captured by the opposition. If you shoot one, they’ll let the other go free. If you don’t shoot any they’ll kill both and attack you. As the trophy titles for this one say, you’re “Damned If You Do” and “Damned If You Don’t.”
Much of the game forces you into these tough decisions where there isn’t a right answer. As the game progresses, even Captain Walkers own appearance drastically changes from a clean cut soldier to a war torn mess. He’s been through hell, and it shows.
Spec Ops: The Line creates one of the most powerful narratives I’ve seen in gaming this year. The story is driven through conversations among your squad mates and radio chatter with Colonel Konrad and his men. There are also times where enemy soldiers will chitchat with each other, talking about daily tasks or some other nonsense. It humanizes them and makes you all the more uneasy when pulling the trigger. Every soldier has a story to tell, even the one’s you’re shooting at.
If you haven’t played Spec Ops: The Line yet, you’re missing out. On the outside it may look like just another shooter but once you experience all that it has to offer, you’ll see that it reaches far beyond the typical hashed out storyline. It’s because of this that it gets my choice for Game of the Year.