Crossing Spec Ops: The Line

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ElPatron:

Abandon4093:
That's exactly how Walker see's it.

Walker, as a character, had a "choice". The narrative made him chose a path. Fine by me, I'm in.

But trying to make *me* feel guilty for something that was never my responsibility? That's pretty far-fetched.

See this is where I think me and a lot of people differ.

I didn't feel as though they were trying to make me feel responsible for it. Any shock or guilt that I felt was just an extension of Walkers. Walker made that choice, not you. You're not playing as a 'you' avatar, who makes the decisions you would make. You're playing as walker, he's a defined character and the choices he makes and the ramifications they have are part of his development.

His lack of agency and by extension yours, was a large part of the meaning behind that scene. That's why they had you using a very impersonal tool, with the laptop screen that put a huge barrier between you and the actions. With the reflection keying in after every strike.

Seneschal:

Zhukov:
My problem with the white phosphorous scene was the way the game tried to make me feel guilty about it afterwards. You know, with the walk through the burning bodies and the cutscene with the dead mum and kid.

It didn't work because the game didn't give me a choice beforehand. If it had said, "Either use the phosphorous or face a really tough fight on foot" and I had chosen the phosphorous then it would have worked fine. But as it was, I didn't feel anything because I wasn't responsible. It was as if Bioshock had started telling me off for killing Andrew Ryan.

Agreed. It was a well-made scene, but it would justify it further if you could actually attempt to attack the Gate on foot. They could make the battle almost impossible (or literally impossible), so that you're forced to go back and use the mortar simply to make things easier for yourself. That would actually make the aftermath your responsibility, even if the game did rig the playing field for that.

well, i figured that Walker and Co. had already agreed that it was actually impossible to assault the Gate with that army and realistically (which is what the story aspires to be) they would be absolutely right. So the mortar was a necessary evil last resort just so you could reach your goal, finding Konrad, which at this point, you probably still want to reach.

All I know is that any game that tries to make it seem like suicide is the right choice has just failed to be remotely moral. They've taken on the responsibility of every person who not sees that message and thinks it's a good idea--I hate being alive, so I shouldn't be. No, you should go to a therapist and stop hating being alive. This is like telling people that the right thing to do is to go rape children.

I don't really give a shit about the other part, as I never feel guilty for things the game makes me do. It only breaks my suspension of disbelief.

Abandon4093:

ElPatron:

Abandon4093:
That's exactly how Walker see's it.

Walker, as a character, had a "choice". The narrative made him chose a path. Fine by me, I'm in.

But trying to make *me* feel guilty for something that was never my responsibility? That's pretty far-fetched.

See this is where I think me and a lot of people differ.

I didn't feel as though they were trying to make me feel responsible for it. Any shock or guilt that I felt was just an extension of Walkers. Walker made that choice, not you. You're not playing as a 'you' avatar, who makes the decisions you would make. You're playing as walker, he's a defined character and the choices he makes and the ramifications they have are part of his development.

His lack of agency and by extension yours, was a large part of the meaning behind that scene. That's why they had you using a very impersonal tool, with the laptop screen that put a huge barrier between you and the actions. With the reflection keying in after every strike.

Then you very much disagree with Yahtzee. That's what we're commenting on here--his opinion that the point is to make you feel guilty. And the fact that, for many of us, that didn't work.

trlkly:

Abandon4093:

ElPatron:

Walker, as a character, had a "choice". The narrative made him chose a path. Fine by me, I'm in.

But trying to make *me* feel guilty for something that was never my responsibility? That's pretty far-fetched.

See this is where I think me and a lot of people differ.

I didn't feel as though they were trying to make me feel responsible for it. Any shock or guilt that I felt was just an extension of Walkers. Walker made that choice, not you. You're not playing as a 'you' avatar, who makes the decisions you would make. You're playing as walker, he's a defined character and the choices he makes and the ramifications they have are part of his development.

His lack of agency and by extension yours, was a large part of the meaning behind that scene. That's why they had you using a very impersonal tool, with the laptop screen that put a huge barrier between you and the actions. With the reflection keying in after every strike.

Then you very much disagree with Yahtzee. That's what we're commenting on here--his opinion that the point is to make you feel guilty. And the fact that, for many of us, that didn't work.

That's not what this conversation was about atall.

This was a discussion about the game's story. Not Yahtzee's interpretation of it.

Abandon4093:

Then you very much disagree with Yahtzee. That's what we're commenting on here--his opinion that the point is to make you feel guilty. And the fact that, for many of us, that didn't work.

This is the kind of topic where one has to dig up old games like Bioshock and Metal Gear Solid 2 to compare how good they are in saying that the audience sucks for following orders.

Just saying.

Recently finished the game, some thoughts:

Well I can officially say that I'm glad I obeyed Yahtzee. Just finished Spec Ops this weekend and...WOW!! That scene was definitely a shocking moment for me. This was definitely the hardest game I ever played (emotionally anyway). I still enjoyed it and it's definitely going into my all-time favorites list for story alone.

It's funny Yahtzee mentioned GOW 3 because I thought about his review of that a few chapters later when I started thinking, "I almost need to stop before this idiot gets everyone killed." Truly a memorable game.

I came to the game forewarned by Yahtzee's review that "you do something terrible". Perhaps it was because because of that, when I saw that mass of heat signatures behind the wall, I didn't think "Oh goody, multiple hits in one shot", but "Oh hell... that many people staying still in one place could only be civilians."

I tried to hit the Hum-vee adjacent to that spot without hitting the civilians... no such luck, of course. Yet I still found the scene effective. One of the advertising bits for the game said something like "sometimes in war there are only bad decisions and worse decisions."

I tried to gun through without using the mortar, too, only to eventually get taken out when snipers took the high ground. The game is pretty effective in conveying the feeling of confusion and oppression that occurs from being in the middle of a crossfire. And the final revelation definitely came as a kick in the gut. It had been clear for some time that Walker was losing his mind, but just how long that had been the case... and how brutal and unnecessary his actions in trying to "finish the mission" had been...

There was one other moment that truly gave me the creeps. Shortly after you hallucinate Luco when the heavy comes out, I came around a corner, failed to get into cover in time, and died... and instead of the usual loading screen, there was a white fade, and a woman singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", and suddenly you're back in the courtyard approaching the door the heavy came out again. Just the sheer level of "you can take nothing for granted as real"...

I didn't let Walker shoot himself; my "continue game" brings me back to the post-credits sequence. Thus far, I haven't been able to make myself start firing on the rescue squad to see what happens. I think the game succeeded in what it attempted to do.

Only got this game so I can read this column finally. :)

Loved it. I did call most of the plot points beforehand, they *are* kind of telegraphed (especially after being warned about shocking "stuff" happening), but I still appreciated them. In my view, the devs tried something else, and they succeeded. It's nothing too deep or too intellectual, yet it's fresh and it's effective. And ultimately rather satisfying, if slightly harrowing.

Not harrowing as reading this thread though. It frustrates me to no end when a person filled with hate and bile decides to use threads as his own anger-venting playgrounds. The internet is really the only place where you daring to like something can be constituted as an immense personal insult to someone you never even met.

SpiderJerusalem:
Except it's NOT the player that makes the decision, it's the game. The entire sequence was so poorly written and played out that I knew that the "oh god, what have you done?!" moment was only seconds away. So I did nothing. I refused to start shooting.

The game went nowhere. It just sat there.

"this is a bad idea" my friends repeated. I agreed and kept waiting.

Nothing.

Pfft. Fine, Spec Ops, if that's how you wanna play it. Bang.

OH GOD WHAT DID YOU WHY DID YOU DO THAT OH THE HUMANITY WAR IS AWFUL!

Yeah, real smooth and profound storytelling there. Not to even mention that Shyamalan twist at the end that attempts to be deep and startling, but just reads like a bad episode of Dallas.

And thatīs exactly how Walker rationalized giving the order to use that mortar...it wasnīt his fault, Konrad made him do it, they had it coming to them. In a sense, you blame the developer for not giving you a choice...exept they do. STOP PLAYING. Serriously, if you didnīt wanna use the mortar, then why did you do it anyway? Just stop there.
Your insistance on playing the game because "itīs a game, I have to!" is exactly what the developers wanted you to think.

Really, thatīs the thing. The only winning move is not to play, and they even say it in the end. You fail to take into account that the developers whole heartedly agknoledged the ultimate last option...turn the console off and stop.

Chrinik:

SpiderJerusalem:
Except it's NOT the player that makes the decision, it's the game. The entire sequence was so poorly written and played out that I knew that the "oh god, what have you done?!" moment was only seconds away. So I did nothing. I refused to start shooting.

The game went nowhere. It just sat there.

"this is a bad idea" my friends repeated. I agreed and kept waiting.

Nothing.

Pfft. Fine, Spec Ops, if that's how you wanna play it. Bang.

OH GOD WHAT DID YOU WHY DID YOU DO THAT OH THE HUMANITY WAR IS AWFUL!

Yeah, real smooth and profound storytelling there. Not to even mention that Shyamalan twist at the end that attempts to be deep and startling, but just reads like a bad episode of Dallas.

And thatīs exactly how Walker rationalized giving the order to use that mortar...it wasnīt his fault, Konrad made him do it, they had it coming to them. In a sense, you blame the developer for not giving you a choice...exept they do. STOP PLAYING. Serriously, if you didnīt wanna use the mortar, then why did you do it anyway? Just stop there.
Your insistance on playing the game because "itīs a game, I have to!" is exactly what the developers wanted you to think.

Really, thatīs the thing. The only winning move is not to play, and they even say it in the end. You fail to take into account that the developers whole heartedly agknoledged the ultimate last option...turn the console off and stop.

PFFFFFFFFT.

"Hey, thanks for buying our 60 euro game. We hope you enjoy it.

Nah, just kidding. The hell you playing this for? STOP IT. You don't like our poorly rationalized soap box rants? Then stop playing the game. Really. We spent two years or more of our lives and asked for your money for a game that totally states that you should stop playing it CAUSE THAT'S THE MESSAGE AND POINT."

Always the same thing that the herd mentality defending this game brings up, "well, you don't have play it", which is the worst kind of defense possible for an interactive product. "Don't criticize poor storytelling, the point is that it's bad and that you shouldn't play it, cause, you know, war is bad and stuff."

A film might, just might, get away with sermons like that, because it's a short product that doesn't cost nearly as much to enjoy. A game that actively admonishes you for playing it is the cheapest kind of lecturing, one that as a consumer I wholly object to.

And it's not even the poor storytelling, it's using morality as a gimmick that really gets me. The game developers don't give two shits about the actual brutality of war, otherwise they wouldn't have added a multiplayer into the game, nor kept the numerous design choices in the product. Nah, to them, having horrible things to put in the game and to then call the player out on is gold. They descend upon that crap like PETA, or any other ambulance chasing organization, so that they can have easy sensationalism to serve on a platter and pretend they're saying something profound.

SpiderJerusalem:
The game developers don't give two shits about the actual brutality of war, otherwise they wouldn't have added a multiplayer into the game, nor kept the numerous design choices in the product. Nah, to them, having horrible things to put in the game and to then call the player out on is gold. They descend upon that crap like PETA, or any other ambulance chasing organization, so that they can have easy sensationalism to serve on a platter and pretend they're saying something profound.

Lead designer heavily opposed the addition of multiplayer, it was added purely because the distributors demanded it is there.

Also, I see you are (were) rather obsessively dominating this thread, which would be fine if you actually had anything to say. But you don't. You basically have only one argument - that the pivotal scene doesn't offer you a choice, and that after not giving you a choice the game berates you for it.

First - it's not even your argument. You lifted it directly from Yahtzee's review. Second it's so fundamentally wrong it's painful. There was never supposed to be a choice, because the game tells a linear story, through a medium of an FPS game. And that's that. A LINEAR story. It wouldn't be much of a story if a pivotal part of a story was skipped by 80% of the players by simply reloading a checkpoint. You came into the game with certain expectations, those expectations weren't met, and it was somehow game's fault. You want choice-based gameplay - guess what, wrong game. If I wanted choice-based gameplay, I'd choose a game designed around it. If I want to watch a light romantic comedy, I will not watch "Seven". And I especially won't go on IMDB to relentlessly rage how dark and unromantic it was.

Thirdly, the game doesn't berate you for doing "that" thing, or at least I never personally felt it was berating me. It berates the character for it. It externalizes the internal struggle of the character by various means, which I've actually found to be rather creative. Whether you choose to feel berated by proxy is really only your own choice... same as choosing what message you want to take out of it and how profound you want it to be. I never for a second felt the game was preachy - it merely said that war is bad, that those uniforms you kill and blips you target are human beings, and that your actions have consequences. That's it. Nothing too deep or profound - just a different perspective then what you usually get from war FPS-es. Personally I found it refreshing and rather sensible.

Spec Ops is just a game that tells a story. Deal with it. In fact your irrational hate for it feels more disturbing than anything I experienced in that game. You didn't like it. Other people did. Can't you move on?

baba44713:

First - it's not even your argument. You lifted it directly from Yahtzee's review.

Yes, cause Yahtzee is the be all end all to criticizing material. Get a grip.

Second it's so fundamentally wrong it's painful. There was never supposed to be a choice,

Then why are the developers so incessant about harping on how you MADE YOUR CHOICE blahdiblahblahlblah?

because the game tells a linear story, through a medium of an FPS game.

And they do so poorly.

It wouldn't be much of a story if a pivotal part of a story was skipped by 80% of the players by simply reloading a checkpoint.

It isn't much of a story to begin with. It's a poor man's clone of better books and films, attempting to pass off two hilariously over the top scenes of violence as commentary.

You came into the game with certain expectations, those expectations weren't met, and it was somehow game's fault. You want choice-based gameplay - guess what, wrong game.

Wrong. Stop putting words in my mouth. The game put itself in that position when it and the developers started talking about choice. I had no criticism of the game (because it was so bland) before it started doing the "look at the CHOICE you made!" bullcrap.

Thirdly, the game doesn't berate you for doing "that" thing, or at least I never personally felt it was berating me. It berates the character for it.

Oh, wait, so now it just berates the character. Not you. Controlling the character. So that's why all the loading screens had stuff like "are YOU enjoying this", and everyone talks to your avatar with a distinct emphasis on "you".

It externalizes the internal struggle of the character by various means it has, which I've found rather creative.

So clearly third person narrative is a completely new thing for you.

Spec Ops is just a game that tells a story. Deal with it. In fact your irrational hate for it feels more disturbing than anything I experienced in that game. You didn't like it. Other people did. Can't you move on?

There is no irrational hatred, in fact no hatred at all. There is an argument and a debate, something forums are for. If you can't handle it, don't join in.

Hi all, just my two cents about the lack of choice in the WP scene, sorry if this is retreading old ground...

I don't feel the lack of a true alternate path (you can start shooting, but you can't go down the ladder) cheapens the scene. It has a solid justification (narratively and for the sake of realism), that sometimes in real life the only 'choices' you have are bad ones, which is clearly lampshaded by Walker in that scene. And quite simply, consider the option that some people are clamouring for: that there be an option to engage in a ground war against the entire force, miraculously survive (though still plausible under videogame rules), 'liberate' the refugees...where would the story go from there? Walker wouldn't have crossed the moral event horizon, there'd be no reason to feel any guilt about what you'd done, you'd go on playing the same 'America saves the day, protagonist always takes the good-guy option, keeps his moral integrity intact'-game we've seen countless times. You'd likely hate it even more.

I think the problem is that if the developers scripted a route from beginning to end that was persistently 'paragon', most players simply couldn't help themselves, and would constantly make the 'right' decisions. In non-interactive media, some of the best stories involve our protagonists doing bad, bad things that change them. But with the benefit of walkthroughs and quickloads, I think most people would simply take the easy way out. Despite the murder-crazy gamer stereotype, I think most people find it difficult to make the 'evil choice' in games that offer them, at least for their first playthrough, even if it's the more interesting path narratively. So in effect, most people on finding out they'd accidentally torched a refugee camp, would reload their last save, take the narratively bland path and save-the-day, and miss out on Walker undergoing the transformation that makes his arc so much more interesting than other video game protagonists. So the developers chose to remove the choice completely, so they could tell the story we couldn't be trusted to pick ourselves.

Chrinik:
And thatīs exactly how Walker rationalized giving the order to use that mortar...it wasnīt his fault, Konrad made him do it, they had it coming to them. In a sense, you blame the developer for not giving you a choice...exept they do. STOP PLAYING. Serriously, if you didnīt wanna use the mortar, then why did you do it anyway? Just stop there.
Your insistance on playing the game because "itīs a game, I have to!" is exactly what the developers wanted you to think.

Really, thatīs the thing. The only winning move is not to play, and they even say it in the end. You fail to take into account that the developers whole heartedly agknoledged the ultimate last option...turn the console off and stop.

I finished the game today and I just wanted to say I fell for this angle exactly as they intended. I think it makes the ending that much better for it. The whole time I didn't agree with Walker, I wanted to turn back because we were just making things worse but I pressed on because the end of the game was that way. The fact that it calls you out about priorities you didn't even realise you had was great.

erttheking:

SpiderJerusalem:
Except it's NOT the player that makes the decision, it's the game. The entire sequence was so poorly written and played out that I knew that the "oh god, what have you done?!" moment was only seconds away. So I did nothing. I refused to start shooting.

The game went nowhere. It just sat there.

"this is a bad idea" my friends repeated. I agreed and kept waiting.

Nothing.

Pfft. Fine, Spec Ops, if that's how you wanna play it. Bang.

OH GOD WHAT DID YOU WHY DID YOU DO THAT OH THE HUMANITY WAR IS AWFUL!

Yeah, real smooth and profound storytelling there. Not to even mention that Shyamalan twist at the end that attempts to be deep and startling, but just reads like a bad episode of Dallas.

Ah but you see, you DID make the choice...you made it when you popped the disk in. You started playing to game the kill people...and you got your wish. You could have just turned the game off and walked away...but you didn't.

Well, that's one interpretation of what they were going for anyway. Some can say that this is a massive deconstruction of military war games. I get the feeling that you knew about the bad thing that he was going to do before you started playing the game, which pretty much counts as a spoiler. I myself knew about it and the second I pressed the button to bomb the trench, my mind put two and two together. So yeah, it kind of does act like a spoiler.

The WP scene was pretty crap as far as "shocking moments" go. And for the record, I could tell which blobs were civvies and which were bad guys. Then some jackass with a humvee showed up, then a cross breeze blew in, the phosphorus got in the trench, it was a an accident. I certainly didn't feel bad. Kinda hard to empathize with your victims when the first time you've actually seen them is when they've already been burnt beyond recognition.

Machine Man 1992:

erttheking:

SpiderJerusalem:
Except it's NOT the player that makes the decision, it's the game. The entire sequence was so poorly written and played out that I knew that the "oh god, what have you done?!" moment was only seconds away. So I did nothing. I refused to start shooting.

The game went nowhere. It just sat there.

"this is a bad idea" my friends repeated. I agreed and kept waiting.

Nothing.

Pfft. Fine, Spec Ops, if that's how you wanna play it. Bang.

OH GOD WHAT DID YOU WHY DID YOU DO THAT OH THE HUMANITY WAR IS AWFUL!

Yeah, real smooth and profound storytelling there. Not to even mention that Shyamalan twist at the end that attempts to be deep and startling, but just reads like a bad episode of Dallas.

Ah but you see, you DID make the choice...you made it when you popped the disk in. You started playing to game the kill people...and you got your wish. You could have just turned the game off and walked away...but you didn't.

Well, that's one interpretation of what they were going for anyway. Some can say that this is a massive deconstruction of military war games. I get the feeling that you knew about the bad thing that he was going to do before you started playing the game, which pretty much counts as a spoiler. I myself knew about it and the second I pressed the button to bomb the trench, my mind put two and two together. So yeah, it kind of does act like a spoiler.

The WP scene was pretty crap as far as "shocking moments" go. And for the record, I could tell which blobs were civvies and which were bad guys. Then some jackass with a humvee showed up, then a cross breeze blew in, the phosphorus got in the trench, it was a an accident. I certainly didn't feel bad. Kinda hard to empathize with your victims when the first time you've actually seen them is when they've already been burnt beyond recognition.

...Is there any particular reason you necroed this thread?

erttheking:

Machine Man 1992:

erttheking:

Ah but you see, you DID make the choice...you made it when you popped the disk in. You started playing to game the kill people...and you got your wish. You could have just turned the game off and walked away...but you didn't.

Well, that's one interpretation of what they were going for anyway. Some can say that this is a massive deconstruction of military war games. I get the feeling that you knew about the bad thing that he was going to do before you started playing the game, which pretty much counts as a spoiler. I myself knew about it and the second I pressed the button to bomb the trench, my mind put two and two together. So yeah, it kind of does act like a spoiler.

The WP scene was pretty crap as far as "shocking moments" go. And for the record, I could tell which blobs were civvies and which were bad guys. Then some jackass with a humvee showed up, then a cross breeze blew in, the phosphorus got in the trench, it was a an accident. I certainly didn't feel bad. Kinda hard to empathize with your victims when the first time you've actually seen them is when they've already been burnt beyond recognition.

...Is there any particular reason you necroed this thread?

Any particular reason you're stalking me? I'm a member of this forum I post were I like.

Machine Man 1992:

erttheking:

Machine Man 1992:

The WP scene was pretty crap as far as "shocking moments" go. And for the record, I could tell which blobs were civvies and which were bad guys. Then some jackass with a humvee showed up, then a cross breeze blew in, the phosphorus got in the trench, it was a an accident. I certainly didn't feel bad. Kinda hard to empathize with your victims when the first time you've actually seen them is when they've already been burnt beyond recognition.

...Is there any particular reason you necroed this thread?

Any particular reason you're stalking me? I'm a member of this forum I post were I like.

You respond to a several month old post that I make, I ask why and you accuse me of stalking? Ok, I'm outa here.

People complaining about the game judging you following the white phosphorus scene because it doesn't give a choice are completely missing the point. The game would have been utterly DESTROYED if they started bringing in the same shitty "do you want to be good or evil?" moral choice crap that we've seen so many times already. The game only occasionally gives you some choice but it's just an illusion since whatever choice you make is always quickly undone. The game avoided the whole moral choice thing by just following a linear story and basically making the point that while something might seem like it was the right thing to do at the time, it sometimes turns out that it really wasn't (like literally everything Walker does in the game).

I think people are exaggerating the whole "the game is judging me" thing too. It wants you to look at your own attitudes and the attitudes of gamers around you toward games in general, not it specifically. And don't take it so personally, they wanted you to do all of this. They're clearly gamers themselves who have also played these kind of games. Obviously nobody really expects you to just chuck the game out in order to get the "good ending". You're just playing along like in any other shooter where you don't have any choice and if this was any other game, you know you would have enjoyed that white phosphorus part. People love that mission in Modern Warfare where you have to kill enemies from the all-powerful and snugly safe position of the air. This just shows that from a different perspective where you see the damage it causes (although a more extreme version than normal). You didn't get any choice in Call of Duty either to go down and kill those guys honourably, you just did it and didn't complain.

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