|System: PS3*, Xbox 360, PC|
|Dev: Yager Development|
|Pub: 2K Games|
|Release: June 26, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language|
The character models seem to randomly switch back and forth between very detailed and pixelated messes. Even when the graphics engine is performing at peak, easily discernible mistakes—like eyes not sitting properly in their sockets—indicate areas where a little extra polish would have been appreciated. Animations are decent enough, but the enemies often run toward cover inexplicably, causing a drag in movement. On the other hand, the environments and backgrounds, as well as the still imagery of corpses and other disturbing scenes, will burn into your mind and may even cause you to shudder. Also, the impressive vistas, looking down on a desolate metropolis placed between mile-high mountains of sand, delivers a spectacle you probably haven't seen in any other game.
Thankfully, the view is generally accompanied by little audio, save the gusting winds of the ever looming sandstorm. With such visceral visuals portraying the genocide, the silence compliments your personal grievance far better than any music would be able to. Every so often, you'll find yourself close to makeshift intercom speakers where a deranged disc jockey comments on the justice of the violence while mixing it up with American rock and roll tracks. Never have I been more disturbed with our rock music then when I heard it here; I almost wished I could silence it with my rifle.
The incomparable Nolan North voices Captain Walker and does a masterful job with the script. However, with his instantly recognizable voice, I had a hard time not picturing Walker as Nathan Drake, though with more swearing and military jargon.
Spec Ops: The Line also comes packed with competitive online multiplayer, with a handful of different modes such as the free-for-all Chaos, Mutiny (team deathmatch), and Rally Point. Buried and Uplink are the two objective-based modes with a little more substance, requiring the destruction of Vital Points in order to reveal the High Value Target, or controlling a central rally point. However, since combat isn't exactly the highlight of the single-player campaign, multiplayer isn't really worth more than a few quick matches here and there. It does have a leveling system, leaderboards, and unlockables, but they've been done better elsewhere and don't present anything new.
Despite criticism in all other departments, the gritty story supersedes the game's mediocrity elsewhere, and finally delivers something outside the box. It dives into a disturbing realism that war, racism, and the psychological repercussions that could ensue, going far beyond the dramatic fluff that we've seen in other shooters. The gameplay is decent enough that you won't mind playing through Spec Ops: The Line at least a couple of times to see how different choices affect the conclusion, and the lasting emotional impact you'll likely take away makes this shooter worthy of being placed at the top of your pile.
Date: June 27, 2012