With 2013 just starting, many gamers and gaming websites look back over the past year to pick out their notable games from 2012. Many big budget games have been gaining awards left, right and center, but in this article, I want to focus on a lesser known title that gamers should check out. That game is Spec Ops: The Line. Many reviews have stated the basics of this game, that ultimately, the gameplay is serviceable if not extraordinary, and that the story is great. This article will narrow down the reasons for those impressions and provide the top 5 reasons this is a must play game for gamers out there.
5) Environmental Damage
While the gameplay in Spec Ops: The Line is overall not that innovative nor memorable, the one thing that shines out from a gameplay perspective is the ability to use the environment to your advantage during combat. The most satisfying of these elements is the use of sand to blanket enemy forces that are pinning you down. It is such a blast to play this game and figure out the sections that allow you to use the environment to your advantage. Oftentimes you’ll find yourself randomly shooting at walls in hope that sand may fall through too. It is great fun when it works.
4) Great Voice-Acting
It may be weird to praise a game’s voice acting, but given the tone of the game and how it presents itself, a very good cast of voice actors were definitely required to convey the emotions of the soldiers on the battlefield. From the main character, Captain Walker, to his companions and the various NPCs you meet throughout the game, they all deliver their lines brilliantly. There are lighthearted moments, where characters are trying to use laughter to push-back the harsh realities of war, and then there are the tense moments, where the harsh realities of war come back at them at full force.
3) In-Game Choices
Surprisingly, the game features unique story choices. Unlike most RPGs, these are only a handful of choices that don’t directly affect the ending to the game. However, because these choices are rare and aren’t spoon-fed to you like in most RPGs, they end up holding a certain weight to them. Sometimes, you may not even know you had a choice to begin with. The choices are gameplay mediated, meaning you choose to aim and shoot to pick your choice, rather than pressing X or Y on the gamepad to correspond with choice 1 or 2. It’s never as clear cut as that. This is what gives those choices impact. And even though they don’t affect the ending to the game, they are still poignant moments and enrich the games story.
2) Dark Story
Speaking of story, another good reason to play Spec Ops: The Line is to experience the dark tale it has to tell. This is not to promote the story simply for being dark and therefore different from the norm, but because it actually tells a good story, that is dark in nature. And truth be told, with so many games glorifying war and treating the gamer as if they are Rambo – this invincible force that can take on everyone without consequences – it is a breath of fresh air to play a game more grounded in the realities of war. Bad things happen during wars and this game isn’t afraid to delve into those issues.
1) Understanding Mental Health
Video games, like other entertainment mediums, are a powerful tool. They allow the average person to glimpse situations or settings that aren’t the norm. Usually, this takes the form of a fantasy, sci-fi, horror or other typical literature setting. One of the positives of this though, is to allow the gamer to experience real world issues that they might never have come across before. An example of this is mental health. Spec Ops; The Line dares to show such an issue. Like another video game that released in 2011, To The Moon, Spec Ops: The Line allows the average gamer to gain a better understanding of certain mental health issues. In this case, it is centered on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Is it entirely realistic? Perhaps not, but by being brave enough to focus on it, the game opens up a lot of possibilities. Should you play Spec Ops: The Line, don’t just focus on the main character and his journey, but take a glance over at other characters too, like the two companions you have at your side. Take notice of how they act and react to situations. Take notice of how things could have turned out very differently had they been brave enough to step up. Spec Ops: The Line doesn’t just offer you a glimpse at PTSD, but also at the effects of normal people dealing with someone who has a mental health issue.