Summary: After all the door kicking, screaming, blindfire, grenade tossing, and turret handling, a soldier always walks away from battle alive with a strong moral compass intact. This last detail is the most disparate departure from reality that modern military shooters make. Though we like to glorify soldiers in our entertainment, it’s impossible to look past the toll that killing takes on a person’s psyche in real life.
Excerpt: There’s nothing wrong with violence in video games. It is, after all, pretend. You’re not killing someone; you’re firing if/then statements out of texture-wrapped polygons into skeletal meshes until the in-game physics kick in. There’s no reason to feel bad or reflect; it’s all a puppet show.
Pros: Interesting, well-developed characters, The engaging narrative is bold, and flies in the face of its contemporaries, Beautiful locations and fantastic set piece battles
Cons: The spotty cover system, Sand amounts to being nothing more than an explosive barrel, Controls aren’t strong enough to make multiplayer worthwhile
Excerpt: Spec Ops: The Line is technically a continuation of a tactical shooter series that started on the PC platform in the late ‘90s, but this sequel significantly deviates from standard operating procedure. Using Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as inspiration to explore the dark side of war and conflict, The Line takes on some serious subject matter. Can the game eke out any meaning in a sea of sand and headshots?
Conclusion: Concept: Shoot your way into the dark heart of a storm-ravaged Dubai
Graphics: The desert setting gives Spec Ops a unique look amongst modern shooters
Sound: Though it brings Apocalypse Now to mind, the Vietnam War-era rock is an ill fit for this modern drama
Playability: The shooting controls are adequate, but the cover system and teammate AI need work
Entertainment: A rare narrative-focused shooter that asks gamers to analyze their actions
Replay: Moderately low
Excerpt: , the more you realize what developer Yager was trying to do. However, although interesting and even stimulating, the concepts broached within this hectic adventure are mostly missed opportunities. While I always appreciate a nod to morality and philosophy in any form of entertainment, I can’t overlook the somewhat generic gameplay and the fact that clichés can - and do - infringe upon higher artistic aspirations.
Excerpt: Most modern-day war shooters seem to be caught in a power struggle between innovative gameplay and stellar visuals, while narrative and emotional connect take a backseat. Many gamers seem to be content with settling for satisfying combat with a lacklustre storyline. However, I firmly believe that a game that tells a meaningful, gripping story, and casts the protagonist as something more than a piece of meat with a machinegun, offers more value.
Pros: Fantastic storyline; Brilliantly captures brutality of war; Looks gorgeous; Co-op DLC to come.
Cons: Idiotic control scheme; Multiplayer is almost non-existent; AI is rather dumb.