Think war is fun? Multiplayer games like Battlefield and Modern Warfare have pretty much trained gamers to kill more, faster, and be rewarded for it all. Spec Ops: The Line (the single player campaign at least) is a game that will teach you that it’s quite the opposite: every kill is grueling and war really is hell.
In Spec Ops, you play as Captain Walker leading a three man reconnaissance mission in a post-catastrophe Dubai that’s been racked by an impossibly devastating sandstorm. What starts off as a short mission to check if anyone is even alive in the deserted city takes a dark turn when they are attacked by survivors and you discover that Konrad, Walker’s old commanding officer may still be alive.
But before we go any further, it’s important to note that this is another retelling of Conrad Verner’s “Heart of Darkness” novel, which has been previously adapted into film as “Apocalypse Now.” So there are a number of expectations that this Konrad ia another a war-hero or prestigious authority figure that has been driven mad by his circumstances or the classic politically incorrect savagery of the natives.
Spec Ops definitely delivers on this storyline, but interestingly enough Walker is the one that’s actually driven into madness. The game sort of uses a gamer’s propensity to never give up (unlimited continues FTW) and instills that quality into Walker’s undying determination to save the city.
But as you fight on through the city you find yourself embroiled in a four way war between yourselves, Konrad’s forces, the coup d’etat forces working against Konrad, and the CIA who has been rounding up insurgents to fight everyone else. The combat becomes more chaotic every time and eventually you (and your AI squad mates) begin to question if you are actually doing any good here. Unlike every shooter that has you shooting though hordes of enemies because fuck-em’, this is one game that stops to ask you “what are you even doing here anymore”?
That’s not even the boldest move this game makes. Most multiplayer shooters let you take control of a missile armed drone or “chopper gunner” to mow down dozens of enemies that are simply marked as electronic red boxes. It’s the sort of remote warfare that completely dehumanizes the enemy and makes war seem like…well a game.
There’s a particular segment that makes you take control of a mortar gun that launches white phosphorus into an enemy military camp. This part is designed just like a Call of Duty killstreak that gives players the same empowered but completely detached feeling of war though a computer monitor. The significant difference here is that you actually have to face the consequences of your actions.
Spoilers Beyond this Point!!!