As far as gameplay goes, it’s a serviceable third-person military shooter, with plenty of convenient chest-high barriers to serve as cover, mooks to shoot, and AI squadmates to bail out of trouble. What makes Spec Ops: The Line stand out is its narrative, and the way it satirizes and subverts the expectations we have of military shooters. Whereas many games present their story as a thing that happens in between (and independently of) the player-controlled combat scenes, here the senseless violence is an integral part of the story, as is the player character’s apparent lack of meaningful alternatives to it. The scripted sequences are fantastically immersive and reactive, often accounting for a surprising breadth of player actions — it just seldom makes a meaningful difference in the end.
If you’re looking for a fun action romp, you will have a mediocre time with this game. If you’re looking for a story told in an interesting way, or if you just enjoy a good mindfuck, it might be your game of the year.
game: spec ops: the line
developer: yager development
publisher: 2k games
release date: june 26, 2012