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Spec Ops: The Line Preview (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)

Sun block not included.

I didn’t know what to expect when I loaded up Spec Ops: The Line. Without meaning any disrespect to the developers, it wasn’t a game I had kept an eye on and all I really knew was that it’s a third-person shooter published by 2K. I’m happy to report that I have been most pleasantly surprised, and Spec Ops: The Line has jumped right up my list of “must have” titles for 2012.

It is the setting that immediately grabbed my attention, and for good reason. It takes place in a Dubai that has been hit by one of the most destructive sandstorms ever recorded. Massive buildings stand wrecked and deserted and some of the backdrops are breath-taking to behold, with sandstorms looming and whole areas trapped in sinkholes. Spec Ops certainly makes a good first impression.

You take on the role of Captain Martin Walker, leader of an elite Delta Force team ordered to infiltrate the region and bring home U.S. Army Colonel John Konrad, who has been missing for quite some time. Konrad was ordered to evacuate before the sandstorm hit, but he volunteered himself and his team to stay and try and help get people out. He then disappeared off the radar, presumed dead until a transmission was received from Konrad asking for assistance.

When Walker and his team arrive it quickly becomes apparent that things aren’t what they seem – especially with butchered troops littering the ground. I shan’t spoil too much of the plot for you, but it’s certainly a good one and helps drive the action forward.

Speaking of action, Spec Ops also does that very well. Walker is supported by two AI team mates who can be given certain orders. This is usually something along the lines of sniping an enemy who’s out of your range, or dropping stun grenades and giving you a chance to get in and deal some damage. Most of the time this is optional, and thankfully they are more than capable of getting stuck in and clearing out enemies on their own.

Then there’s also “Dynamic Sand” to think about. There are times when a well-placed bullet to a window will see a few hundred tons of sand pour through and bury your enemies, although you need to be wary of that happening to you as well. Sandstorms can also hit in the middle of a battle, whipping up parts of the scenery and reducing visibility to mere metres and making moving difficult, let alone a gunfight.

Both Dynamic Sand and the storms add a real edge to Spec Ops’ gameplay. Often the levels in third-person shooters are merely arenas for some carnage to take place, but at times during my play through it felt like Dubai was actively trying to take me down.

Don’t get me wrong though, there’s still plenty of carnage to be found. Spec Ops certainly doesn’t skimp when it comes to bad guys, and at times ammo will run dry before they do. The gunplay feels nice and weighty, and easily up there with titles such as Gears of War (although the characters obviously don’t carry as much heft as Marcus et al). I also had no problems with the cover system, and snapping to various points feels responsive.

Visually the game is extremely over-saturated in places due to the fact you’re in a desert. It’s an interesting look. As mentioned at the start the backdrops look absolutely fantastic, as do the sand effects. In terms of sound, Nolan North voices Walker, and I know some of you may be getting a tad fed-up of hearing Mr North but I feel he really does add something to the role. Definitely not your typical shouty marine.

So far I’ve only really come across a couple of negative points. The sound bites regularly used by Walker and his team get old pretty quick, and sometimes don’t make any sense. For example at one point Walker starts whispering and says everyone needs to equip silencers to take out some enemies nice and quietly. He then proceeds to yell “RELOADING!!” at the top of his voice, for no reason. I also came across a few spikes in difficulty that really caught me off guard.

It’s very much a case of “so far so good” with the single-player aspect of Spec Ops: The Line. It looks brilliant, sounds great and in terms of quality it certainly seems up there with some of the big franchises. One to keep an eye out for when it launches next month.

Stay tuned for our review.

  1. LTG Davey
    Since: Aug 2008

    Thoroughly enjoyed the sizeable demo. Worth picking up during the quiet period between August-September I reckon.

    Comment posted on 25/05/2012 at 13:18.
  2. Jakster123x
    Since: Aug 2011

    Yeah, the demo was certainly enjoyable so i’ve got high hopes for this

    Comment posted on 25/05/2012 at 13:28.
  3. sparkyscrum
    Since: May 2011

    Not paid too much attention but looks good.

    Comment posted on 26/05/2012 at 00:44.
  4. Foxhound_Solid
    Is a smart cookie.
    Since: Dec 2009

    Enjoyed the demo…

    Comment posted on 28/05/2012 at 19:12.

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