Spec Ops: The Line is one hell of a good third person shooter. There's really just no better way to open this review. While gameplay systems are very standard, it has one of the best storylines that I have ever seen in a third person shooter. So now, on to the review proper.
The storyline of Spec Ops is one of the darkest that has ever graced a third person shooter. The setup is very simple; an American battalion that was exculpating itself from Afghanistan was redirected on their way home to Dubai to help evacuate the city as growing sandstorms were threatening to destroy it. As far as everyone knew, the 33rd Battalion, who had been sent in for the evacuation, had been completely destroyed in the sandstorms along with the local populace. Then American high command received a transmission about potential survivors in Dubai, thus your character enters stage left to investigate the transmission, and so begins the tale. The story of this game is very dark, and will keep you on the edge of your seat wanting to find out what happens throughout the six hour campaign.
The gameplay of Spec Ops is far less impressive than its storyline, but it gets the job done. It's pretty much everything we have come to expect out of a third person shooter since Gears of War invented cover mechanics. It has all the guns you would expect from a third person shooter, from your rifles, machine guns, sniper rifles, pistols, and so forth. Its one unique feature on the gameplay front is the inclusion of sand in various set piece battles which range from being able to shoot out windows that have sand behind them and being able to bury your opponents alive, to some rather harrying fights in the middle of a sandstorm. Some of the fights in this game can get rather intense, so be prepared.
As is to be expected, the HUD of the game is very serviceable to the task, as are the controls at large. The one complaint that can be mustered about the controls is that if you play the game with a game pad the cover mechanic is rather wonky as the dodge button and the cover button are the same, leading to accidentally popping out of cover when you don't intend to. It should be noted that this was only experienced using a 360 controller, and the problem was not present when using a mouse and keyboard.
The environmental graphics of Spec Ops are gorgeous, but the character models not so much. The character models definitely look fine, but there's a weird texture popping issue you get if you're trying to snipe someone from really far away. That said, the environments are drop dead gorgeous, particularly the sand effects throughout the game. The voice acting is very high quality with Nolan North taking the lead as the main character. The rest of the cast really sell their characters as believable, particularly one of the main villains whom you hear on the radio for the first two thirds of the game.
The multiplayer is serviceable and barely worth mentioning as it does absolutely nothing new. Its one mode that might be considered from by some is standard death match the four on four teams. The graphics also receive a very noticeable downgrade from the main game.
In conclusion, Spec Ops: The Line is one of the better third person shooters that you will play this year. Any faults that it has on the gameplay front are more than made up for by the excellent story.
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