Spec Ops: The Line - Recap Review

What's good

- Very emotional, unnerving story that distances itself from glorifying-michael-bay shooters.
- Good character development (until the ending that kind of ruins it).
- Belivable claustrophobic setting and atmosphere.

- The artstyle and design of a broken down, almost post-apocalyptic Dubai.
- Solid third-person shooter experience.
- Excellent soundtrack and voice acting.

- Fairly smart enemy A.I.
- Storywise the moral choice system is an effective tool to show that the world isn't just black/white.

What's bad

- Been-there-done-that third-person shooter gameplay.
- Partly unresponsive controls when getting behind cover.
- Manipulation of sand in combat is unimaginative and not as flexible to use as promised.
- Gameplay gets repetetive really fast.
- Despite the fact that the game is advertised as a modern adaptation of "Apocalypse Now" it actually only scratches the surface of its source material and instead just stupidly tries to force that premise into your brain with 60's music (out of place but good music) and naming some villains after the movie's characters.
- Story occasionally mimics forced  Apocalypse Now story moments (especially towards the end).
- Disappointing out-of-nowhere-conclusion ending (plot convenience).
- Throwaway, weak, extremely standard multiplayer without any own personality.

- Gameplaywise the moral choice system is completely useless.
- Occasionally muddy graphics. Notably when up close. Landscapes do look good though.


- A particular very gruesome scene involving two disturbingly posed corpses.

The Verdict

Spec Ops: The Line isn't even that much of a bad game. Though it is a very standard generic third-person-shooter that doesn't invent anything new or that tries to take enough advantage of its sand-in-combat gimmick, the gameplay is not exactly where its true intention lies.

Spec Ops' biggest strength is its story. It distances itself succesfully from the michael-bayish storylines of FPS games like Call of Duty or Medal of Honor in favour of showing a more gruesome and more realistic depiction of warfare and what it does to people. The choices that the player is forced to make are never clearly good or bad, which is pretty unique compared to other obviously "black/white-games" like Infamous and reflects life in a more complicated way (as it actually is).
With that said, The Line's story is well told and definitely has the feel of a man's journey through wartorn places that drive people insane. Though in my opinion the game suffers from extreme false advertising.
Advertising the game as an adaptation of "Apocalypse Now" was a wrong move. Only about 10% of the game make you really think of the source material, and that's mostly due to the 60's/70's soundtrack and some characters that are named after the ones from the famous movie.
Though Apocalypse Now's and the Line's premises do share parallels, those are very quickly thrown overboard for a completely different own story. So for everybody who plan's playing the game...better forget about it being an adaptation of anything but just its own story.

Being more about the story than the gameplay, Spec Ops: The Line is a perfect rental. Though partly very depressing (yet not as depressing as Silent Hill 2), the story has enough own character to justify playing the very generic but straight-forward okay gameplay.

Final Verdict: 7 out of 10

Status: Solid Rental

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