Spec Ops: The Line Screenshot 1
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Spec Ops: The Line

The game begins in medias res with Walker, Adams, and Lugo flying in a helicopter past the skyscrapers of Dubai, shooting down several pursuing helicopters until a sudden sandstorm forms, causing one of the pursuers to spin out of control and crash into the trio. The story then jumps back to the start, with Delta traversing the storm wall to the outskirts of a mostly buried Dubai, being taunted on broadcasts by the Radioman (Jake Busey), a DJ and former journalist speaking for the 33rd. After coming across refugees being rounded up by the 33rd and engaging in a firefight, Walker elects to disobey orders and find Konrad. Receiving a broadcast of CIA agent Daniels being interrogated by the 33rd, the team chooses to interfere. Tracing the signal's origin, they find Daniels already dead and the broadcast was a trap set for fellow CIA agent, Gould. Gould helps Delta escape, but is later captured and killed while assaulting a location called the Gate. The team heads there and continues the attack. Finding it heavily guarded by the 33rd, the team employs white phosphorus to obliterate their opposition and advance further into the city. While walking through the aftermath, they realize they accidentally killed 47 civilians moved to the Gate for shelter by the 33rd. Walker blames the 33rd and vows revenge.
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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

whatever you do, DO NOT go to dubai on june 25th 2012. worst mistake of my life

Review from Steam

Enjoyed killing civilians
10/10 PTSD Simulator

Review from Steam

i committed a war crime

Review from Steam

Playing this game reminds me of a quote from a long time ago.
"War isn’t Hell. War is war, and Hell is Hell. And of the two, war is a lot worse.
There are no innocent bystanders in Hell. War is chock full of them — little kids, cripples, old ladies. In fact, except for some of the brass, almost everybody involved is an innocent bystander."
Capt. Benjamin Franklin 'Hawkeye' Pierce-1977

Review from Steam

Spec Ops: The Line seems to have been largely ignored by the mainstream gaming press. I think I know why. (Spoilers)
From:
Something clicked for me today. I was looking at the wiki page for Spec Ops: The Line, and I noticed something; it didn't get many awards. Now, I'm not going to proclaim that it's MP was great, or really even good. And sure, the mechanics were a bit dry and generally not all that interesting. But with all that in mind, that seemed to reinforce what the game was trying to say, so in the end, I think it should've gotten a bit more credit for it's single-player narrative. But it didn't. It got some mentions in most reviews as being surprising or well-done, but many reviews seemed to ignore it and focus more on the lackluster mechanics or the weak multiplayer.
Here's the thing about Spec Ops; it's not a nice game. It runs completely contrary to everything that modern military shooters are about. It takes the jingoistic pro-war stance that makes you feel like some sort of be-all last line of defense for freedom against the chaos of evil and completely turns it on it's head, revealing how ridiculous, and in some cases, terrible, so many shooters have become.
I normally don't think of shooting members of the Taliban in Medal of Honor as racist, and hunting drug lords in Ghost Recon was justified because orders were to take that man out. Call of Duty and Battlefield both have used Russians as their enemies, but that's fine, because they're Communists, and we need to be aware of that threat. At least, that's what I thought, until I played Spec Ops, where I spent 6 grueling hours gunning down American soldiers. The whole time, I couldn't help but feel that I was doing something wrong, because I was shooting Americans, and Americans are supposed to be the good guys, right? Well, why is it different with Latinos, African Americans, Arabs, or Russians? Why is it okay for them to be gunned down in droves by me and my comrades, but as soon as I see Americans in my sights, it's wrong? This is where I started to see how racist and lazy other shooters were, throwing non-American groups under the bus as an easy enemy for us to fight.
But Spec Ops goes even farther as far as shock is concerned. They're not content to stop there. I'm sure anyone who's played a modern military shooter is familiar with the level were you're put in a large vehicle and shoot enemies from a distance. Here are some examples: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, Medal of Honor.
You don't need to watch all these in their entirety, as I'm sure you get the idea. Even Saints Row 3 gave you a mission where you used predator missiles, although to be fair, that game was meant to be more of a parody. Moving on though, Spec Ops included it's own mission similar to this one, but they did something significantly different with theirs. Obviously it looks similar to other games gunship missions, but they then force you to face the consequences of what you've done, walking through the corpses you've just bombed, and then finding out you just bombed a civilian refugee camp.
This scene hit me hard, because I felt like it was such a standard scene that I'd done so many time in so many games, but here, I was seeing the consequences up close and personal, and finding out that I had done something truly terrible. This scene was a punch in the gut for me.
There are other moments, but I think I've made my point. Spec Ops stood as a huge criticism of modern military shooters which are currently flooding the gaming markets nowadays, and in my opinion, it was incredibly successful. And I think that the gaming press ignored it because it performed it's task so well.
The mainstream gaming media of today is seems to have become incredibly easy to please, with Call of Duty regularly scoring incredibly well, despite common complaints of it being stale and repetitive. Battlefield 3 was able to get away with a terrible campaign on it's multiplayer component alone. Other games that are largely considered to be merely average or simply well-executed are generally given very good reviews. Spec Ops struggled compared to many other games, however, with metacritic averages around the mid-70's. While some critics praised the single-player narrative, such as Ben Yahtzee or the show Extra Credits, most other sites tossed it aside, forgetting about it. Maybe it's because they're busy and only have so much time to commit to particular games that they couldn't give it the attention they thought it deserved. But I think something else is going on.
If the critics that praise games like Call of Duty and Battlefield were to turn around and give Spec Ops the credit it deserves, there would be some implications. First of all, they would be praising a game that's largely criticizing games like CoD and Battlefield, and they might have to start rethinking their opinions and stances on certain products. If they were to take the game's story seriously, they would have to start looking more critically at games like CoD and Battlefield, and this might shake things up a bit. Beyond that, they'd have to start weighing games more evenly, which while they'd agree is good, would require a lot more work and critical thought on their part, and might occasionally require them to take harder and less popular stances on certain things. To elaborate on this, Battlefield 3 was generally well-received with praise based on it's MP, despite a lacking single-player. Spec Ops, on the other hand, lost a lot of points because it's MP was lacking, although most would likely argue that the single-player was the main draw of the game. The point is, critics are sending the industry (and they've been sending this message for years now) that MP is ultimately more important that single-player. Both these issues are part of a larger problem with a gaming press that isn't willing to shake things up and take the hard stances on certain things. Rab Florence did an excellent piece for Eurogamer that said this better than I can, but to summarize, we have journalists with little integrity who are simply trying to maintain their domination over the gaming press by releasing easy reviews.
One thing I often read about from reviews of games like Bioshock is how great it is to finally have a story that makes the player think about bigger issues, and how great those games are for pushing the medium forward artistically. And yet, it seems that those sorts of stories aren't really missed all that much during the sorts of games that depend on it's audience not thinking. Critics praise story when it's there, but when it's not, no harm done, and they're perfectly willing to check their brains at the door of their next gaming experience. Basically, there's no consistency here, and if gaming journalists were serious about wanting better narratives, they would've taken Spec Ops more seriously. I'm not saying it needed to be showered in GotY awards, but it seems to have largely been ignored, and I see a press that's scared to admit that a large part of that game was pointing at people like them, who've allowed our industry to become dominated by thoughtless and horrific games that make us feel empowered without ever making us grow.
Thanks for reading.

Review from Steam

Do you feel like a hero yet?

Review from Steam

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