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I love the smell of white phosphorus in the morning

A Review On: Spec Ops: The Line

Spec Ops: The Line

Rated # 4 in Xbox 360 Games
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Pros: Mature and engaging story, wonderful setting, character development, soundtrack, aesthetic, replayability

Cons: Publisher forced multiplayer mode that was outsourced and disowned by main devs, most choices don't actually matter

As Dubai is hammered by sandstorms and all travel in and out of the city cut off, a message from Colonel John Konrad reaches military informing them the attempted evacuation has failed. Enter one Captain Martin Walker. Formerly serving under Konrad's command he's sent in with his team of Lieutenant Adams & Staff Sergeant Lugo to find Konrad and his 33rd and bring them to safety. The game is based on the classic novel Heart of Darkness and its film adaptation Apocalypse Now. It doesn't take long for things to go south and suddenly there's shootouts all over lovely Dubai.

This isn't some simpleton Call of Duty style game. As you go deeper into Dubai, Walker goes deeper into his decent of madness. Soliders are hung from streetlamps, burned bodies litter the streets, candles lit underground for those that hid from the storms. One of the more brilliant things about the game is that juxtaposition with the horros of war and beauty of Dubai. There's beautiful sunsets, 5 star hotels with vibrant colors, gorgeous views, rooftop swimming pools and of course the signature tall buildings in Dubai. This makes it a visually impressive game even if it's not technically impressive.

To some extent just how mad Walker goes is up to you. There are plenty of choices throughout the game. You can fire in the air to scare civilians off or you can shoot them. You can shoot a man that stole food for his family or you can shoot a man that killed to protect his family or you can try to shoot both of the ropes they're hanging from in an attempt to spare both. However none of these matter. Perhaps it's a bigger commentary on video games in general. Much of the game is, particularly war games and having generic (but solid) shooting mechcanics. The only choices that do matter are towards the end of the game.

The games sound is another strength. It has an excellent soundtrack featuring such acts as Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix and Martha & the Vandellas. All used effectively within the story as they would be in a movie. Hendrix's version of the national anthem plays over the main menu with an upside down American flag (as a sign of distress, not disrespect). Nolan "I'm in every game" North does some of his best work as Walker. At the start of the game everything is light hearted and joking, by the end of the game the toll of the journey comes through as he begins speaking with a more gruff voice and begins projecting with more anger and cuss words. The harsh effect of all that has happend comes out in the voice, tone, vocabulary and even the character model changes until he's dirty, bloody and missing a good piece of his vest when the destination is finally reached.

While the game only clocks in at about 6 hours there is some replay value. While choices don't matter you can still make the other one and it's worth replaying again anyway with the information you obtain in the ending. Speaking of the ending there's 7 possible endings here. You can reload your last save in most cases so they're not difficult to get but each is worth checking out.

A multiplayer mode was shoehorned into the game for the purposes of hitting all the checkmarks on a list the publisher had. It was not made by the main devs and they've previously stated the game even has multiplayer as it takes away from the attention that should be on the main story. This was also unfortuantely marketed as just another war game when it's anything but.

One of the best games of 2012 and one of the best stories ever in a video game.


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