Xbox 360 Review: Spec Ops: The Line

Welcome to Dubai, Gentlemen…

Spec Ops: The Line follows the story of Captain Walker of Delta Force as his squad tries to find what happened to a division of troops in Dubai after their Colonel disappeared and is presumed dead. It’s a third-person shooter with a tactical edge, but it’s really the conditions of the desert that make the game memorable. One minute you’ll be having a gunfight in a hotel, and then a sandstorm will kick in and change the dynamic of the battle, making it almost impossible to see your enemy and where you have to go.

Over the course of the story, you’ll come across choices that change the dynamic of the plot, some are rather gruesome and some will make you question if you should even be in charge of your Delta squad, I won’t give it away…but suffice to say, you’ll be shocked by the horrors of war you face during the campaign. It starts out slowly, but it gathers momentum after an hour or so. In terms of gameplay, The Line uses a cover system as you would expect, but it isn’t as refined as that of Gears of War/Uncharted, moving from one object to another isn’t as smooth as I’d have liked and with the AI being super-aggressive, you won’t want to make a mistake in moving from cover to cover.

Yes, the AI is brutal. Some enemies will just run at you with a knife and instantly kill you unless you shoot them in time, while they’ll lob grenades and rush you out of cover. One fight that really bugged me was in a room against a heavily armoured enemy and the lights kept flicking on and off, I was blind-firing shotgun shells into him for as long as I could, because each time the light flicked back on, he was in a different area, suffice to say…The Line can be damn difficult at times.

Luckily you have 2 squad members who will throw flashbangs, grenades and snipe your targets that you select, as long as they haven’t been downed, that is. But if one squad member goes down, you can order the other to revive him, which is handy and could make the difference between life and death, especially on the harder difficulties. There are collectables scattered around, but they are pretty easy to find and add audio conversations to add weight to the plot, I personally liked the story and the conflict within the squad.

Multiplayer however feels quite tacked on and doesn’t have the enjoyment of the campaign; it has pretty standard modes and thankfully, has no achievements. Yes, this third-person shooter only has single player achievements….praise the devs! In terms of presentation, Spec Ops: The Line is a fine looking game for the most part, the sandstorms and dust clouds add a new element to the game, while the facial animation isn’t that bad, but there are some ugly textures that pop up now and then, when I thought it was just slow texture loading, which is disappointing. The framerate is consistent, the voice-acting is impressive and the music has some classic tunes too.

The Verdict

While not exactly changing the genre, Spec Ops: The Line is an impressive third-person shooter and brings the ugly side of war to life in a way that is truly memorable. Multiplayer may be a letdown, but the campaign is something that should be played.