Spec Ops: The Line Preview

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There are a lot of shooters out there. Some just give you a gun and tell you to shoot. Others put you in a position you never want to be in and make you live it. 

Spec Ops: The Line is trying to add a third idea to the shooter: give the players a choice, sometimes "damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don’t" in nature, and make them deal with it. 2K Games and Yager Entertaimment are putting the burden of choice in the player’s hands, something that could be one of more powerful gaming experiences we’ve seen, especially if what I saw that E3 2010 is any indication.

Spec Ops: The Line is set in Dubai, a well-known haven for the world’s elite, after a massive sandstorm all but obliterates it. Sand is everywhere: the streets, the buildings, the cars, everywhere. You play as US Army Captain Walker, leader of the Delta Force, as they search the sandy city looking for a lost US Army colonel who stayed behind to evacuate civilians. During the demo I was shown, I got a taste of what Walker adn his squad are going to have to deal with.


First off, Dubai is desolate, barren, and downright intimidating. You never know when enemies will strike, nor will you know from where. Combat is classic third-person shooter style, complete with a cover system, active reload, and aiming down the sights. Where combat is nothing new, the environmental hazards are unique and interesting. If there’s one thing this game does well, it’s sand physics. Sand will slowly seep through cracks in wood, it will fall out of a car should you open the car door, and it will fall as quickly as real sand does. There was one instance where an enemy was standing under a net holding up sand, so the dev demoing the game shot one of the supports, and the sand buried the attacker. The way the sand fell and flowed was jarring, as that kind of realism is few and far between.

The idea of giving the player the burden of choice looks like it will make the game very interesting. At the end of the demo, the team had the choice of shooting a US soldier’s captors where they stood, or waiting and listening for more intel before firing. If you wait too long, the soldier dies. If you screw up the attack, the soldier dies. The dev waitied until he heard what he wanted to hear, then attacked. The battle raged on, and at the end we witnessed an emeny grab the hostage, say something tough, then a white screen and a gunshot. We don’t know what happened, but we were on the edge of our seats hoping to find out.

Spec Ops: The Line looks to add a whole new layer of storytelling depts to shooters when it releases this fall on 360, PS3, and PC. If you think you can handle the pressure of "The Line," don’t miss it.


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Author: Jason Fanelli View all posts by
Jason lives and breathes gaming. Legend tells that he taught himself to read using Wheel of Fortune Family Edition on the NES. He's been covering this industry for three years, all with the Node, and you can see his ugly mug once a week on Hot Off The Grill.

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