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Spec Ops The Line has been released on 360 and been provided for us to preview/review by the publisher.
Believe it or not we are still playing it. Here are some extracts of what we made of it in chronological order:
"When video games are described as provocative, it usually means they have found a way to further their joyous dance with violence and promiscuity. Spec Ops: The Line has a different agenda though, which is that it has an agenda -- not the usual prerequisite for most entertaining shooting games that sell by their millions to old and (too) young alike..."
- Faithful Gamer (Thu, 09 May 2013)
"Spec Ops: The Line 360 has a wildly implausible premise, but uses it as the basis for a thoughtful, almost allegorical story that's a cut above the patriotic bluster of most contemporary shooters..."
- Story Gamer (Fri, 26 Oct 2012)
"Spec Ops The Line is a third person shooter, voiced by Nolan North set in a sand-storm swept Dubai. That much I already expected. What I hadnt anticipated was my conscience being pricked quite so hard. .."
- Family Gamer (Fri, 03 Aug 2012)
Spec Ops: The Line may be another near-future military shooter, but its exotic setting and literary roots look promising.
It's been nine years since the last game in the Spec Ops series, and The Line will enter a shooter scene already crowded with near-future military titles like Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon and the all-conquering Modern Warfare.
The Line is a squad based shooter, the squad in this case being a group of Delta Force soldiers led by Captain Martin Walker. The action is third person and close-up, with single player and multi player modes promised. So far, so standard in terms of action games focusing on the US military, but other details released make the game sound a bit more interesting.
Dubai is a fascinating, bizarre place.
There's the setting, for one thing. The emirate of Dubai is a city that has experienced rapid development in recent years, a modern cityscape featuring the tallest and most extravagant buildings in the world. With a duel function as a financial centre and tourist destination, Dubai and its glittering skyline have gained something of a reputation as being an example of the indulgence of the super-rich. It's a fascinating, bizarre place, a slightly unreal modern metropolis rising from the desert sands.
In Spec Ops: The Line, Dubai's wealthy residents have been driven away by a series of severe sandstorms, leaving the city as a semi-buried wasteland occupied by refugees, bandits - and US Army Colonel John Konrad and his men, who have stayed behind to protect the weak. As Captain Walker, the player is sent in to the devastated city to contact Colonel Konrad and bring him in.
If the latter part of that storyline sounds a little familiar, you're probably thinking about either Joseph Conrad's 1902 novella Heart of Darkness or Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola Vietnam war-set movie inspired by Conrad's book. Both book and movie feature a protagonist sent into dangerous territory to bring back a lost man on behalf of a colonial power, facing the depths of man's inhumanity in the process. Heavy stuff, and if The Line can capture a fraction of either the book or movie's thematic depth it will be considerably more involving than the usual whack-a-terrorist military action we've come to expect from this kind of game.
Dynamic sandstorms will change the exterior terrain.
Certainly, both story and environment have great potential. The interiors of Dubai's skyscrapers will be used to provide vertically oriented battles, while dynamic sandstorms will change the exterior terrain. Aside from the gameplay specifics, the setting of an incredibly wealthy, shining city reduced to a devastated war zone should provide a suitable backdrop for a confrontation between Walker and Konrad - however developer Yager have decided that relationship should resolve itself.
Spec Ops: The Line is due for release on 360, PS3 and PC in 2012.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: