On this day back in 2012, 2K unleashed Spec Ops: The Line; another third person military shooter featuring a gruff American bloke and plenty of bad dudes to shoot. At the time, it certainly looked like another uninspired effort chasing the Call of Duty crowd, not to mention its beyond-generic title. However, behind this 'tough guy' exterior is a shooter with a lot of heart, and one that delivers a message as poignant as ever in 2022.
Set out in a sandstorm-ravaged Dubai, the game's setting is the one and only thing that appears somewhat unique upon loading the game. The rest of the initial setup seems fairly unremarkable; a squad of military dudes have caught wind of a radio signal within the city, and their task is to infiltrate and find survivors. What actually lies ahead is a story that pushes you into questioning the reasons for war, violence and even the video games that portray these actions.
A lot of the time, we don't think about the things we actually do in video games. Sure, the debate around violence in gaming is ever-present and certainly something we don't really want to get into here, but the game itself asking why? That's another question entirely and it makes Spec Ops feel unique even a decade after release. Why are we as people at war? Why do we want to play out such events in a video game? How far will you go in a game just to see it through to its conclusion? It's a weird way to frame a game's events, but it works in asking you to jump in with a different mindset than when playing your typical shooter.
As for the gameplay itself, well, that is a lot more typical, all told. One neat mechanic it sort of teases early on is using the environment to your advantage, through unloading heaps of trapped sand onto your enemies and working in tandem with the game's sandstorms to outsmart enemies. However, these tend to be limited to certain, scripted scenes and don't really make a difference in general play. Elsewhere, it's by-the-numbers third-person shooting with modern day military weaponry.
And yet, the fact that this game still remains on our minds to this day, goes to show just how much the story holds up. We don't want to go much further into spoiler territory even 10 years later, as this game's narrative is the sole reason to play Spec Ops in 2022. However, that sole reason is enough even now, and you should absolutely play through Yager's third person shooter if this type of thing appeals to you. Better yet, it's backwards compatible on Xbox and is easy to pick up and play even now. Sorry though folks, it's not on Game Pass yet!
As 10 years passes by, we'd love to see the series revived one day, although maybe it sits better as a standalone game? We've all gone about our business since, playing a plethora of violent games and doing our damnedest to plough through as many enemies as possible within those games. Spec Ops: The Line did make us stop and think though, and for that, it deserves a huge amount of credit.
Have you played Spec Ops? If not, will you give it a shot 10 years later? Let us know down below!
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