Spec Ops: The Line is the newest offering from 2K Games, the studio behind the hugely popular Bioshock and Borderlands series. Set six months after an apocalyptic sandstorm buries the city of Dubai, Spec Ops: The Line focuses on Captain Walker and his Delta Recon Team on their mission to find and rescue survivors from the desert wasteland. However, as players will quickly realize, this is no standard search-and-rescue mission.
A single-player game, players will take the part of Captain Walker, the head of the Delta Recon Team. The game begins with Walker and his team helicoptering into Dubai to investigate the first sign of life in six months. When the sandstorm hit, US Army Colonel John Konrad and his men in the 33rd Infantry stayed behind to protect those who remained in the city. When all communication ceased between Dubai and the rest of the world, the Army declared Konrad and his team dead. Now that their weak distress signal is broadcasting, Walker and his team must locate the source and any potential survivors.
Once the signal is located, the mystery begins. Bands of terrorists start firing, and a hostage situation reveals that Colonel Konrad is more than just a soldier in need of rescue. There is a deeper organization at work, and the mystery begins to come clear through pieces of intelligence dropped by defeated enemies and other clues from a variety of other sources.
Spec Ops: The Line features the kind of visuals expected from a 2K game. Realistic soldiers, even more realistic explosions, and a decent amount of consideration to the laws of physics give the game enough of an immersive feel to make it enjoyable. After all, any game where you can off-balance a sand-filled bus to send it crashing down on your enemies is going to be a good one.
Despite the dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of feet of sand covering everything, there is no doubt that this is Dubai. Details such as aircraft logos, vehicle license plates, and even signage add to the effect, and it’s nice to see a game that understands the value of accuracy. It’s not the most beautiful game you’ll see this year, but it’s definitely nowhere near the worst.
Two AI soldiers accompany Walker, and actually are fairly intelligent. These soldiers won’t go charging into rooms undirected, and do a nice job of drawing fire away from Walker. They also have a few clever lines, which is a rarity in the otherwise desert of wit offered by the game.
The biggest technical issue is the lack of control customization. As a left-handed gamer, I strongly prefer, and in fact often need, a high level of adaptability in controls. Spec Ops: The Line does allow for some minimal button swapping, but doesn’t allow the move and camera angle triggers to be switched, making it very difficult for gamers used to opposite controls. Additionally, the controls aren’t standard to other games, so even right-handed players may need to spend some time in the controls menu.
As a first-person military shooter, Spec Ops: The Line delivers what gamers are looking for. A solid storyline, decent AI support characters, and a few cool extra features make for an enjoyable game with the potential for replay value. Four levels of difficulty, including the limited edition unlockable Fubar pack, make the game accessible for even first-time FPS players; but keep in mind that an M for Mature rating for blood and gore, intense violence, and strong language means that this game isn’t recommended for gamers under 17 years of age. Also, the lack of controller customization could prove frustrating for some gamers, especially lefties. Overall, Spec Ops: The Line, while not the most impressive FPS out there, does manage to hold its own against the juggernaut Call of Duty and Battlefield series and provides a quality gaming experience.
Final Rating: 6 out of 10.