Do you pay much attention to the story in games such as Modern Warfare or Ghost Recon? No? Well, neither do I. There are terrorists to take out WMD's, and things, but a part from giving us a bit of motivation to squeeze the trigger there really isn't much we need to worry our fragile little minds with. Take cover and shoot the bad guys, repeat until done.
Spec Ops: The Line is a squad based tactical shooter, familiar territory to most gamers, but the setting and story is something a little different from what we are used to, and that is why I'm looking forward to a game in a series I have never cared about from a developer that's been under the radar since the early part of last generation.
Spec Ops: The Line is set in a near future Dubai where cataclysmic sandstorms have buried the luxurious buildings, and forced a total evacuation of the city. Well, that's not to say it's completely deserted but we'll get to that. The massive sand dunes are not just there for interesting scenery, as you will be able to use the sand tactically to bury enemies and chance the layout of the battlefield. Yager has also promised sandstorm that appear dynamically, which is going to mix things up and allow you different tactics depending on the condition.
From a visual perspective Spec Ops: The Line provides you with something you have never seen before, and the eerie postapocalyptic feel is further highlighted by the barbaric practises that are taking place as law and order has abandoned the most advanced city in the Middle East, if not Earth.
You are Captain Martin Walker, who's on a mission with your Delta Force squad to try and bring home one Colonel John Conrad and his men. Your old mentor, but it's not a simple rescue mission, and it's highly doubtful Conrad wants to be "saved" at all. Your mind should be screaming "Heart of Darkness" at you at the top of its lungs, and Yager Development have obviously taken a lot of inspiration from Joseph Conrad's classic.
But let's touch on a couple of things I mentioned in the beginning. Spec Ops, is a series that has been in hibernation since the early part of the last decade. The series was never that big and after original developers Zombie Studios left the series, it only spawned a few budget priced and ill received games and the last of those came out in 2002 on Playstation. When 2K Games decided they wanted to revisit Spec Ops, they opted to go with a new developer, and much like Spec Ops it's a developer that has been flying under the radar for a while now, Yager Development. Perhaps, best remember for being one of the first confirmed developers on the original Xbox with the self-titled Yager (eventually released on PC in 2003, and Xbox in 2004).
"It's interesting, we've been working on The Line since 2007 dedicatedly with 2K, and before that we had a number of prototypes that we did as well to build up to this premiss that we've got (in Spec Ops: The Line)," says Cory Davis, lead designer at Yager Developments in Berlin.
In Yager's Dubai Martin Walker and his team set out to try and track down a team who was sent out before them to bring the Colonel and his men home. The demo we get to see starts out inside one of the extremely extravagant buildings that oil money has built, it feels like a tomb in ancient Egypt, and we engage some local looters along the way. We shoot our way through a glass wall, and as the sand pours in, we have an exit to go outside. The looters are fairly well equipped and put up a fight, but we soon come to realise they is a greater enemy waiting for us behind the dunes. Conrad's men. Graffiti scribblings on walls with cryptic religious meanings, and men hanging dead from lamp posts. Something sinister is at work here, and this is no longer you typical extraction mission.
Walker and his team make their way to a vantage point where they see the men who was sent there before you, captain what's his name, being primed for execution by Conrad and his men. Here you have a choice to expose yourself and save him, maybe gain some valuable information or stay back and take a safer path. Spec Ops: The Line will allow you some of these options as you progress through the story, and as you may imagine, the lines between right and wrong will get blurred.
Can Spec Ops: The Line compete with the likes of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, and more fantastical games like Gears of War 3. It remains to be seen, but Spec Ops: The Line, offers a lot you typically won't see in the tactical third person shooter genre.
"Obviously this is a very crowded genre and if we're not going to bring something new to the table, why even try? And to us Dubai presents an amazing opportunity for visuals and also for gameplay," says Cory Davis.