Let's continue our First Look articles with another game by 2K Games, Spec Ops: The Line. Back when it was first announced some time ago, Yager's new game got all the attention of players. To find out if Gamersyde was convinced of the game's potential, just come inside.
The level of the game that was demoed in Cologne presented us with what looks like your typical Third Person Shooter, but from what we have seen, it still is really effective. The main originality of the game is its setting, Dubai, in a close future, after it was destroyed by terrible sandstorms. The team of highly-trained soldiers you are leading will have to face opportunistic looters as well as the sand itself, in environments that will combine the past opulence of Dubai's interiors and the devastation of its streets.
The storyline of Spec Ops: The Line is obviously dark and mature, which is made clear when Captain Walker - you - and his team discovers an impressive number of dead bodies hanging from lampposts. Something that certainly hides more than meets the eye, standard looters having no reason to act that way. The no-man's-land Dubai has now become is then the perfect place for ambushes and gunfights, but that's not all, you will also be required to make very hard choices. Indeed, the development team really wants the player to be forced to take difficult decisions in order to show that, no matter what you choose to do, there always are consequences that you must learn to live with, should things go wrong in the end.
On a graphical standpoint, the game may not turn out to be the new yardstick against which every TPS will be measured but it still does the job pretty well and looks realistic enough to keep the player immersed in this chaotic world. The work they have achieved on the characters' animations looks great, especially when going from cover to cover. You can see them protect themselves from debris and when there is an explosion in the vicinity, like when a chopper crashes on to a building. Another detail that caught my attention was when Walker jumped over a cover while a looter was hiding behind it. Walker's feet happened to touch the man while in motion and instead of just passing through him like in most games, he actually touched him and made him lose his balance. I'm not sure if this is the sort of gimmick that was purposely intended by the developers but we can at least be sure that collisions between characters are handled realistically. Well unless it was just a lucky glitch that is, who knows?
Like I said earlier, enemies will not be your only concern in Spec Ops, as sandstorms can also slow you down, affecting level design or simply putting you and your men in a zero visibility situation. Sand can also be used at your own advantage though, like when Walker shot a part of the scenery that was holding back a massive amount of sand, creating some sort of small avalanche that killed the bad guys. Those of you who like rock will be pleased with the soundtrack as guitar chords usually accompany the violence of the situations you are faced with. The music score can also be more discrete when moving on stealthily to a designated location, an effective way of building up tension as the next attack is getting close.
In the end, we have been pretty convinced by what we saw. Sure, the game does not come up with a lot of new never-seen-before-in-any-other-game features, but it does not mean it does not do things well. The very fact that Spec Ops: The Line takes place in a rather original environment and will also ask you to make snap decisions you might regret are at least two good reasons to be looking forward to seeing more. Multiplayer also comes into the equation, although we do not know much about it just yet. If the campaign mode manages to carry the player along a well-paced adventure, then maybe we will find in Spec Ops one of the good surprises of 2011.