Spec Ops: The Line - A 2nd opinion? I don't know.

EDIT: Taking this down for use for another site. Lame, I know. Appreciated the discussion, everyone.

Back from the land of the dead?

Anyway, we talked about Spec Ops a fair bit already, but there's one thing that really bugged me that I never mentioned before: the game's use of infinite respawns to funnel your actions. There were just too damn many times in the game where I thought to myself, "Wait, the last couple minutes of shooting have been entirely pointless - they'll only stop spawning if I move another fifty feet to the left".

The setup for the "mannequin scene" was the worst for that. The developers had this really cool bit that they badly wanted to show you, so they give you a situation where your squadmates are pinned by machine gun fire and you have to take a circuitous route to get behind the enemy. Except you don't actually, you can easily pick off your attackers with a sniper rifle. And I did so, for two or three minutes, watching identical copies of the guys I just decapitated take their scripted places and resume firing. I was too busy being irritated by this that I couldn't properly appreciate the legitimately cool mannequin scene.

In conclusion, RELOADING! COVER ME, I'M RELOADING! JUST WEIGHING ME DOWN!

Just recounting the entire story and occasionally pausing to give your criticisms doesn't really constitute a review. More like a recap with a fews asides sprinkled throughout.

I personally liked it alot, but I'm not without my complaints. You criticize it for the way it demonizes you for the things you have no control over, but thats not really the case. While you can't change the course of some events, you're still the driving force that causes them. Without you, it doesn't get done, and that makes you an accomplice. This being the case, you stil have alot of choice to feel guilty over, so theres that.

Mossberg Shotty:
Just recounting the entire story and occasionally pausing to give your criticisms doesn't really constitute a review. More like a recap with a fews asides sprinkled throughout.

Recounting a game and pausing for criticism is pretty much a review. This piece is mostly chronological, maybe that's tacky? I don't know. There's a legitimate opinion in each paragraph here, but I mean hey, thanks for the feedback. I'll work on that.

Without you, it doesn't get done, and that makes you an accomplice.

I just can't wrap my head around an excuse that lame. You're the accomplice, man, because you played the game.

I kept playing because Dubai was really beautifully done, and also because I'm not the type of guy to walk out on movies I'm not feeling, much less turn off a game because I'm a little offended. I spent money on it, so yes, I'll continue committing whatever horrible crimes it wants me to.

I'll act totally surprised when that plan backfires. Whatever it needs me to do for it to work, I'll give it a fair shake.

The Crotch:
Back from the land of the dead?

Yeah yeah.

I think my favorite A.I script was the poor guy who runs to meet you on the receiving end of the zip line. The moment you grab it he just comes out of nowhere and stands there for a good 5 seconds, and then *bam* - dramatic takedown.

And the whole mannequin thing, thought my videocard was done for. When I realized it was part of the game it was pretty cool, though.

I personally enjoyed this game, even after looking back at it and seeing that it is quite a railroad. But its a very enjoyable one. I was sucked into this world they fabricated, and for a good amount of time, I was Walker. I was immersed, and for a shooter, thats impressive. And for every flaw the game possesses, I still felt guilty after I "beat" the game. I actually thought about replaying the game to see if I could go back and play it through to prevent it. (Before the internet ruined it for me).

Im sure Im not the only one who feels that way about this game. Even with its issues. Easily my favorite game of last year. And so far this year.

That's fair enough. That people found the game powerful doesn't surprise me, I'm just curious if anyone else felt rubbed the wrong way by the choice structure or the silliness of Walker.

I love the hipsterness of escapist <3 first someone tries to explain why dragon age 2 is the best thing ever and now someone tells me Spec Ops was bad.. <3<3 Yee go away hipserboy

mrhateful:
I love the hipsterness of escapist <3 first someone tries to explain why dragon age 2 is the best thing ever and now someone tells me Spec Ops was bad.. <3<3 Yee go away hipserboy

It is pretty bad though. One of the worst shooters I've played, bloody tedious gameplay made me give up a number of times.

Um. You were nice and vague about spoilers in the review itself, so you might want to tag the

bit in your reply, there. Just, y'know, for those super sensitive folks.

mrhateful:
I love the hipsterness of escapist <3 first someone tries to explain why dragon age 2 is the best thing ever and now someone tells me Spec Ops was bad.. <3<3 Yee go away hipserboy

The shit? Anyway, let me shovel more hipster into your monitor for you.

I finished this game not to long ago. I liked it, the story drew me in, the characters kept me engaged. After I finished and saw the ending, I put my controller down, and stared at the title screen for about 3 minutes. Trying to wrap my head around what had just happened. I hadn't had a game mess me up this bad mentally since I finished Heavy Rain. A game to this day I refuse to play again.

I saw the game as its HIS story. Not your story. Which is why the freedom of choice is lacking, its because it has nothing to do with the player, your just following the character, learning about him and his thoughts and experiences. Kinda like watching a movie or reading a book. I think i loved it because it blew me away, I played it with an underwhelming first opinion and wanted a game to kill a weekend. My expectations were low, especially the demo that played like a generic shooter...but i can say it was the only game i played last year that surprised me....the white phrosprus scene was shocking because you had to face what you just did. I think a lot of games dont give you that kind of reality of your actions......you bomb with fun. But then the aftermath. But the story was great, and the things that happened to you and how you lied to yourself to condone your actions. I hope this will let other companies write more personal stories than just another MW or Blops game.

I have removed my words from this site.

Playing on the PC was really awful for me. The game looked great, but the game play was tedious, and movement felt like molasses; coupled with the incredibly awkward cover mechanics.

The constant enemy grind was tedious and boring.
I stopped playing sometime after "the infamous scene" that I was was apparently not supposed to see coming. Not because I felt bad, but because all I felt was boredom and slight bemusement the game thought this would shock me as some grand reveal. I should note that no "twist", were they actually supposed to be twists, surprised me as I saw them coming a long ways away (up to where I stopped playing).

The story just didn't do it for me. I didn't like the characters, I felt they weren't really developed well, or that I was attached to them, or that the drama meant anything, or that I cared to unveil "the mystery" that was unfolding. I just didn't care about any of it and had to shut off the yawn inducing game.

And the writing, really guys, it just wasn't that good. It was pulpy, shallow and ... well, mediocre. Is it better than pretty much every other shooter? Definitely, but that still doesn't make it good, in my opinion at least.

I guess, in short, a lot of the problem stems from me:
I only played this because I heard of it's super, amazing, ground breaking, unbelievable story full of twists. When you go in expecting that, and you get well... what it was, I think you'd be disappointed to. It's also something to go through a story LOOKING for what could be unreliably delivered to you as a player/reader, what shocking twists could be done, etc. This is, unfortunately, how I played it and I picked up on them all.

In the end, even if the game holds up a mirror and asks you to look at yourself and why you enjoyed killing everyone, it still wouldn't do it for me, because I didn't enjoy a single minute of the gameplay. I heard people say they felt so bad after the white phosphorous scene because it made them confront that they were killing indiscriminately for the fun of it, and they were having so much fun with the bomb camera.

I just don't know what was so "fun" about it. The scene was scripted, it was slow moving, it wasn't exciting and it was unchallenging; much like most of the game.

holdthephone:

Mossberg Shotty:
Just recounting the entire story and occasionally pausing to give your criticisms doesn't really constitute a review. More like a recap with a fews asides sprinkled throughout.

Recounting a game and pausing for criticism is pretty much a review. This piece is mostly chronological, maybe that's tacky? I don't know. There's a legitimate opinion in each paragraph here, but I mean hey, thanks for the feedback. I'll work on that.

Without you, it doesn't get done, and that makes you an accomplice.

I just can't wrap my head around an excuse that lame. You're the accomplice, man, because you played the game.

I kept playing because Dubai was really beautifully done, and also because I'm not the type of guy to walk out on movies I'm not feeling, much less turn off a game because I'm a little offended. I spent money on it, so yes, I'll continue committing whatever horrible crimes it wants me to.

I'll act totally surprised when that plan backfires. Whatever it needs me to do for it to work, I'll give it a fair shake.

It's not the structure of your review, its the way it reads. Almost like a travel guide or something, mostly re-treading exposition thats already known to anyone who has played the game and has formed an opinion. I'm just assuming thats the type of person you're trying to attract to your thread, considering the whole "2nd opinion" thing?

If you consider that a "lame excuse" then maybe this just isn't your cup of tea. It all comes back to the whole player-protagonist relationship. You're not always in control, but you are always the driving force. If you're not trying to get invested in the characters, then you shouldn't be surprised when you don't get an emotional response from them.

Hmm, all of your criticisms are aimed at things that are deliberately designed. You can cry all you want about the fact that the game forces you through the actions and "decisions" yet your reaction is exactly what they expect from someone who un-ironically enjoys the military shooter genre. I am sad to see that this game completely flew over your head.

Best game ever? Probably not. Best game of 2012? You bet your hindquarters it is.

mrhateful:
I love the hipsterness of escapist <3 first someone tries to explain why dragon age 2 is the best thing ever and now someone tells me Spec Ops was bad.. <3<3 Yee go away hipserboy

Yea, gotta agree with you there, this feels like someone is saying "oh look, my opinion is contrary to the norm!"

Also, these captchas are becoming incomprehensible. I'm not a computer, honest!

DeadpanLunatic:
It's unheard of, apparently, to hold a moderate opinion on The Line, which is either brilliant or terrible according to who you ask. I like the game a lot myself, but I'm not inclined to label attacks as hate-the-popular hipster prose (for there are always valid reasons to dislike something). At the same time, "it's a bad shooter" or "it's not fun" strike me as a bad thing to criticize about it. Those are the two general parts of this forum dance, so I tend to avoid discussions. I suppose I might add to this one, partly because I know you to not generally hold to stupid ways and partly because it's my job to lecture you anyway.

I won't go too far into detail, no matter how strongly I disagree on some points. Not everyone has to find the game as affecting as I and a lot of other people did. With that in mind, a few things.

Yeah, thanks for hearing me out here. I'm not deliberately trying to go against the grain, I've just found myself in an odd position where I don't agree with either side. People either praise it as a powerful commentary or criticize it as a poorly executed cover shooter, which, as you said, is a boring way to go about a game like Spec Ops. I'm disagreeing with it on its own terms, or at least I hope I'm coming across that way.

It's quite popular in our circles to mock Modern Warfare for being such a linear, hand-holdy nongame or to joke about quick time events as the bane of game design, but I don't find that very helpful. I never subscribed to the idea that because our medium is, at heart, interactive, it should always have to try and be as interactive as possible, all the time. It's a very tenuous argument to me. I wouldn't criticize choose-your-own adventure books for being, despite the nature of their medium, interactive. Just the same, I don't see why games need to keep to one particular golden standard rather than being allowed full creative freedom.

The question of how to use interactive media for this kind of reflection is probably the most interesting to come out of the Spec Ops discussion. Now if only we could phrase it reasonably rather than shouting about the one and only way to go about it (usually some personal preference).

Or in short, "This is the one way to use our medium" strikes me as a dumb, limiting thing to say.

That the term linear has become synonymous with primitive has always bothered me. I don't mind set piece games, scripted events, or even the one choice veiled as many trick. I don't mind Walker's destruction being inevitable, and I don't mind the game crossing personal boundaries with that concept. But the way it insists upon itself after being so transparent from the get go, it just really started to grate on me. And I love introspective games like these, absolutely love them. Spec Ops should of been right up my alley, but instead it just reminded me of games that do these things much more elegantly.

I had just played Hotline Miami beforehand, for example, and what a game that was. It throws a similar curve ball at you halfway in and I'd wager nearly every player fell for it. It doesn't shout in your ear about what it's trying to make you feel, it's just designed to happen.

Anyway, DPL, I don't think I can one up your response or even disagree with what you're saying because it's all very true. Thanks for recognizing that I'm just testing the waters here with a different opinion, and I always appreciate learning a thing or two. Really, I'd like to see more games like Spec Ops but would simply like to see them better handled.

TheRussian:

mrhateful:
I love the hipsterness of escapist <3 first someone tries to explain why dragon age 2 is the best thing ever and now someone tells me Spec Ops was bad.. <3<3 Yee go away hipserboy

Yea, gotta agree with you there, this feels like someone is saying "oh look, my opinion is contrary to the norm!"

Mossberg Shotty:

It's not the structure of your review, its the way it reads. Almost like a travel guide or something, mostly re-treading exposition thats already known to anyone who has played the game and has formed an opinion. I'm just assuming thats the type of person you're trying to attract to your thread, considering the whole "2nd opinion" thing?

If you consider that a "lame excuse" then maybe this just isn't your cup of tea.

I post opinions in the Community Review section because I hope to avoid this sort of thing, but I guess it just comes with message board territory. If it makes you feel any better, I don't agree with people who criticize Spec Ops either, like the other poster up there going on about clunky cover controls and awful dialogue. I disagree with him, I think he's exaggerating, and I don't look to him for gratification (sorry!). I'm not trying to hate a game here, that's ridiculous. I have specific issues with some of its ideas and I like to think I'm being clear about them.

I get that you'll group me in with the usual naysayers and dismiss me on that basis, but I hope I've earned a chance here.

I have removed my words from this site.

look at this thread. spec ops has done exactly what it set out to do. provoke debate and discusion, make people ask questions, ponder its meanings, and ask does it succeed at what it does.

initially you had people who walked into it expecting your standard blockbuster but instead got an arthouse game and now a bit later you have people walking into it expecting it to be the best art house piece made and it doesnt live up to that either.

i got alot out of it. and it made me question alot in games in general that i never really did before and there is alot of very cubtle meaning there thats easy to miss from music to the use of colour through to being slapped in the face with obvious themes like the landscape representing decending into madness, etc

I won't know until I play it again.

What I can say is that I WANT to play it again. It was a good experience. Yh the cover shooting is tedious but at the same time you really get a sense of what frame of mind Walker is in.

The action (gameplay) actually re-enforces the narrative which is rarer then you might think;

note how brutal the executions get as the game goes on
'Tango down' to 'I f*king got him'
Reloading to 'I'm f*king Reloading!!'

It impacted how I played and I felt under more stress too.

Games have cutscenes simply inserted between gameplay segments to tell the story. These can be interchangeable and it won't really effect anything.

Even if you subtract all the in the face 4th wall, PTS, wanting to be a hero themes and mirroring...spec ops the line still pulled off what most shooters can't do anyway

I trade in a lot of games; I traded in Dishonoured, Assassins Creed, Hitman & even Skyrim immediately after reaching the end. But Spec ops ...nah I'm putting that in my 'keeps' selection with Deus EX:HR, MGS4, Uncharted2, Dark souls

It will never cease to amaze me how people manage to so thoroughly miss the point of Spec Ops: The Line or think that they are experiencing the game to its fullest while doing everything in their power to go against it, only to be let down when, surprise surprise, the game designed to point out everything troubling about linear modern warfare shooters, asks that you be linear about playing it.

Sorry if I seem cross, for I don't mean to; you're probably one of the more reasonable people I've seen disagree with The Line. It's just that I think you're going about the game in entirely the wrong way.

The Line is purposefully constructed to be a parody and satire of everything that Yager (a German company) feels is wrong or questionable about American, modern warfare shooters. It honestly seems like you've cut yourself off from anyone talking about the game, period, though. You're looking at it in a vacuum, and it does not exist in one in the least.

I'l get to the point. Look, when you play Modern Warfare 3 or Black Ops or whatever, your go through a series of rooms, kill all the dudes in the room, and advance to the next one. There are set pieces and the like, sure, but for the most part, you advance by killing dudes and walking past them. All the while, you witness some utter military pornography and a ceaseless string of jingoistic choruses shouting "AMERICA, FUCK YEAH!"

And it's always the right thing to do. You are always the good guy (read: the Americans/Westerners) always fighting the bad guys (read: terrorists or Russians), and no matter how badly things might go on a mission, it all works out in the end. Good guys win, bad guys lose, everything's hunky dory.

In Spec Ops, you do much the same thing (kill dudes, walk past them), but rarely is it ever the right thing to do, even temporarily. You try to figure out what's going on in Dubai, and you murder scared people who were hiding from the Damned 33rd. You try to rescue Gould and civilians die. You try to help the CIA agent and condemn everyone in Dubai to die of thirst. The entire thing is set up as a means of examining why it's so weird that killing everyone who isn't you is, from a gameplay standpoint, the right thing to do.

Think about how many times Walker says "I did what I had to do." He says it quite a lot when questioned about his decisions to use white phosphorus, destroy Dubai's water supply, and murder all the well-meaning American troops who were trying to stop him. The player, upon having the game question their actions, probably says something similar, such as "I couldn't progress any other way" or something.

Of course you couldn't. That's the fucking point. In any modern warfare game, the linear path of gameplay is always the right thing to do. In The Line, it almost never is. Other game congratulate you for following their path - The Line asks you what the hell is the matter with you that you're okay with screwing up everything the Dubai people have in order to satisfy some narrative curiosity, or to have fun.

This might seem surprisingly simple, but considering how masturbatory the triple-A game industry is and how bloated with modern warfare shooters it is, I think it isn't as surprising as one would initially suspect.

Professor Lupin Madblood:
It will never cease to amaze me how people manage to so thoroughly miss the point of Spec Ops: The Line

I don't think it's possible to miss the point of Spec Ops. The game's message didn't fly over my head, it couldn't have. It's flying too low to the ground for that to happen. And because of that I think the playthrough lacked power. That's my dig at the game, eat me alive for it (you're not, I know), but don't say I missed the entire point of the experience. I have a habit of reaching pretty far with game analysis, to the point of sounding a bit starry eyed and incredulous myself, so I'm more than comfortable with what Spec Ops is doing here. It's pretty down to earth stuff.

"None of this would have happened if you had just stopped."

The Line gives us situations where we know we'll have to do horrific things to progress. So why do we continue? And after we blunder from atrocity to atrocity, why are we surprised that our actions aren't vindicated?

"We didn't have a choice!" to quote Walker directly. While Walker justifies his murderous rampage up until it is completely impossible to deny things were his fault, we the audience shift responsibility from ourselves and onto the game itself. We aren't bad people! We were just looking for something to entertain us! We didn't want to do any of that terrible stuff! We didn't mean to hurt anybody!

Spec Ops asks us why we keep coming back to this particular bloody power fantasy, and exposes the sorts of mental gymnastics we have to engage in to spend an entire story straight-up murdering dudes without expecting any moral or emotional fallout. It shows just how much we will divorce ourselves from our own ethics and judgement in order to progress a story in a game; because that's what we expect to have to do.

And, as it keeps telling us, all we would have to do to avoid experiencing any of that is stop.

SpaceCop:
"None of this would have happened if you had just stopped."

The Line gives us situations where we know we'll have to do horrific things to progress. So why do we continue? And after we blunder from atrocity to atrocity, why are we surprised that our actions aren't vindicated?

"We didn't have a choice!" to quote Walker directly. While Walker justifies his murderous rampage up until it is completely impossible to deny things were his fault, we the audience shift responsibility from ourselves and onto the game itself. We aren't bad people! We were just looking for something to entertain us! We didn't want to do any of that terrible stuff! We didn't mean to hurt anybody!

Spec Ops asks us why we keep coming back to this particular bloody power fantasy, and exposes the sorts of mental gymnastics we have to engage in to spend an entire story straight-up murdering dudes without expecting any moral or emotional fallout. It shows just how much we will divorce ourselves from our own ethics and judgement in order to progress a story in a game; because that's what we expect to have to do.

And, as it keeps telling us, all we would have to do to avoid experiencing any of that is stop.

What if I don't play this kind of game? What is it supposed to mean to me then?

The only reason I picked up spec ops was because I heard it's story was amazing, and it really wasn't.
Nor did I feel bad for a single thing Walker did in the game, because it's all Walker could do. The story was written, the stage was set and I was just moving him along through his paces. Is it my fault? Sure, let's say for the sake of argument it's my fault for playing the game and making Walker do these things. Why would I feel bad? None of it is real. It's not like I enjoyed a second of the game, either; so it can't guilt me into "why do you enjoy virtual killing so much?!"

Was it I that killed Eddard Stark in ASOIAF because I read it happened? Of course not, the narrative was written and designed before hand and it could only ever play out in one way.

holdthephone:

The Crotch:
Back from the land of the dead?

Yeah yeah.

I think my favorite A.I script was the poor guy who runs to meet you on the receiving end of the zip line. The moment you grab it he just comes out of nowhere and stands there for a good 5 seconds, and then *bam* - dramatic takedown.

And the whole mannequin thing, thought my videocard was done for. When I realized it was part of the game it was pretty cool, though.

I definitely felt there was some problems with the game, and I'm probably not qualified to make a true opinion, but I felt the idea behind a lot of the events was more of an exploration of the medium as a whole. The exploration of character to player was an extension of why people seem to buy into the whole modern fps gritty shooter craze in general. Why do you play these games? If video games are escapist in nature, then why do you choose to do this specifically? "You're here because you want to be something you're not. a hero." Perhaps even the use of scripted events were meant to speak to the nature of heavily scripted events in the other games of the genre. In the Cod/battlefield series you do a scripted event to kill the bad guys and save the good guys and be a hero. And, by extension they were using the same method to make you a war criminal instead. You have no choice but to throwing knife the main villain or die in Cod. and you have no choice but to burn the civillians or die in Spec ops.

I know that's not really a good defense for gameplay issues, but I also think that the timing is right for it. I'm willing to play a not-so-stellar game if it offers something new, and in this case the story was something that, while not in itself new, was something few games have explored, and never to that extent.

derp, clicked the wrong "quote" button.

holdthephone:

Mossberg Shotty:
Just recounting the entire story and occasionally pausing to give your criticisms doesn't really constitute a review. More like a recap with a fews asides sprinkled throughout.

Recounting a game and pausing for criticism is pretty much a review. This piece is mostly chronological, maybe that's tacky? I don't know. There's a legitimate opinion in each paragraph here, but I mean hey, thanks for the feedback. I'll work on that.

Without you, it doesn't get done, and that makes you an accomplice.

I just can't wrap my head around an excuse that lame. You're the accomplice, man, because you played the game.

I kept playing because Dubai was really beautifully done, and also because I'm not the type of guy to walk out on movies I'm not feeling, much less turn off a game because I'm a little offended. I spent money on it, so yes, I'll continue committing whatever horrible crimes it wants me to.

I'll act totally surprised when that plan backfires. Whatever it needs me to do for it to work, I'll give it a fair shake.

I definitely felt there was some problems with the game, and I'm probably not qualified to make a true opinion, but I felt the idea behind a lot of the events was more of an exploration of the medium as a whole. The exploration of character to player was an extension of why people seem to buy into the whole modern fps gritty shooter craze in general. Why do you play these games? If video games are escapist in nature, then why do you choose to do this specifically? "You're here because you want to be something you're not. a hero." Perhaps even the use of scripted events were meant to speak to the nature of heavily scripted events in the other games of the genre. In the Cod/battlefield series you do a scripted event to kill the bad guys and save the good guys and be a hero. And, by extension they were using the same method to make you a war criminal instead. You have no choice but to throwing knife the main villain or die in Cod. and you have no choice but to burn the civillians or die in Spec ops.

I know that's not really a good defense for gameplay issues, but I also think that the timing is right for it. I'm willing to play a not-so-stellar game if it offers something new, and in this case the story was something that, while not in itself new, was something few games have explored, and never to that extent.

Hyenatempest:
Perhaps even the use of scripted events were meant to speak to the nature of heavily scripted events in the other games of the genre. In the Cod/battlefield series you do a scripted event to kill the bad guys and save the good guys and be a hero. And, by extension they were using the same method to make you a war criminal instead.

This is actually a rather novel way of looking at it, especially when people complain that none of the stuff that happened is their fault because "they had no choice"

Do these same people throw objections when through heavily scripted events, the other games make them look like a massive war hero and messiah? Do they ever throw the criticism of "I deserved none of this glory and praise, it was just the game playing itself, this is insulting" at those games?

 

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