Is Spec Ops: the Line overrated?
Yes
22% (117)
22% (117)
No
77.6% (413)
77.6% (413)
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Poll: Is Spec Ops: the Line overrated?

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Yes. Although I'd say if it is, TWD is equally if not more overrated as well. Mainly because both games were praised to the moon and back, and then to the moon again, on here especially, and I've joined in heavily in extolling the virtues of both games. And rightfully so on both accounts I would add.

However, neither Spec Ops The Line or The Walking Dead could live up to the levels of hype they have here (or anywhere for The Walking Dead, Spec Ops seems to be underrated everywhere else, which means I bang on about it more here =P )

ShinyCharizard:
I can understand your point. But to have to pay money in order to play a game that tells you not too enjoy yourself and to stop playing is something that I cannot support.

People gain other things out of Spec Ops, it's not like it takes out the fun without a reason. Whether you like or dislike what you can get out of Spec Ops is up for taste and opinion of course, but regardless it shouldn't be judged by goals it didn't tackle. Of course ice cream doesn't taste like pizza and of course it's cold.

Zhukov:

ShinyCharizard:

IronMit:

Because he doesn't like the way it feels...lol

and he doesn't like his genre being criticised or turned on it's head

It's a subjective view (well within his rights) but he tries to turn it into an absolute by the blanket statement 'this message should not be in video games'.

Because no-one should be told that they are wrong to enjoy a certain genre of video game. And no one should have to pay money for a game that tells them to stop enjoying the games they love.

Why not?

A developer is allowed to make a game with any message they damn well please.

(Y'know, unless they break the law. But somehow I doubt commenting on video game genre conventions breaks hate speech laws.)

Nobody "has to pay money for a game that tells them to stop enjoying the games they love" becuase they can, y'know... not buy the game.

And how is this a known fact to people who buy the game. The whole point of the game lies in the story so I imagine people would go into playing it without spoiling it for themselves beforehand

ShinyCharizard:

IronMit:

Because he doesn't like the way it feels...lol

and he doesn't like his genre being criticised or turned on it's head

It's a subjective view (well within his rights) but he tries to turn it into an absolute by the blanket statement 'this message should not be in video games'.

Because no-one should be told that they are wrong to enjoy a certain genre of video game. And no one should have to pay money for a game that tells them to stop enjoying the games they love.

It's making you question the games you love and asking you why you love them. I can still go immerse myself in any other FPS

You are upset because the game is trying to make you think..and you don't like what one of those answers are. An answer you can reject by just shooting Konrad and saying you were just along for the ride anyway.

I was watching fox news the other day and they said 'No one should be shooting other people in video games'.
Your argument is just as extreme but just with a different view point.

You can't seem to comprehend that if you don't agree with the message it may still have a place for other gamers

I am not telling you, you should like the game or the message. It's when you go off on tangent and say no game should criticise this genre, all games should be fun (even though a lot of movie's are not fun).
As someone else replied to you. You need to step back and look at games just like books and movies: they can be a medium of communication, ideas and thought provoking. Games are evolving but don't be afraid the fun games will always be the majority...just like for movies.

Marik Bentusi:

ShinyCharizard:
I can understand your point. But to have to pay money in order to play a game that tells you not too enjoy yourself and to stop playing is something that I cannot support.

People gain other things out of Spec Ops, it's not like it takes out the fun without a reason. Whether you like or dislike what you can get out of Spec Ops is up for taste and opinion of course, but regardless it shouldn't be judged by goals it didn't tackle. Of course ice cream doesn't taste like pizza and of course it's cold.

This whole argument is going nowhere so I'm just going to have to agree to disagree.

ShinyCharizard:

Because no-one should be told that they are wrong to enjoy a certain genre of video game. And no one should have to pay money for a game that tells them to stop enjoying the games they love.

And no one had to do that. I bought the game because I wanted a deconstruction of the trend my favorite genre fell victim to. And the story was so well told, the characters were so dear to me that at one point I made the choice that Walker would not continue his quest but altogether stop.

I have yet to ask you: Why should a game not be used as a medium to tell a story that is not enjoyable in the classical sense? Movies can do that, books can do that. Why should a dev not take a popular genre and use mechanics and story to depict it in a way that lets you question that genre altogether?

It was a cool take on the Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now storyline, but I can't say it's a good game personally :-(

UrinalDook:

SNIP

Exactly

IronMit:

ShinyCharizard:

IronMit:

Because he doesn't like the way it feels...lol

and he doesn't like his genre being criticised or turned on it's head

It's a subjective view (well within his rights) but he tries to turn it into an absolute by the blanket statement 'this message should not be in video games'.

Because no-one should be told that they are wrong to enjoy a certain genre of video game. And no one should have to pay money for a game that tells them to stop enjoying the games they love.

It's making you question the games you love and asking you why you love them. I can still go immerse myself in any other FPS

You are upset because the game is trying to make you think..and you don't like what one of those answers are. An answer you can reject by just shooting Konrad and saying you were just along for the ride anyway.

I was watching fox news the other day and they said 'No one should be shooting other people in video games'.
Your argument is just as extreme but just with a different view point.

You can't seem to comprehend that if you don't agree with the message it may still have a place for other gamers

I am not telling you, you should like the game or the message. It's when you go off on tangent and say no game should criticise this genre, all games should be fun (even though a lot of movie's are not fun).
As someone else replied to you. You need to step back and look at games just like books and movies: they can be a medium of communication, ideas and thought provoking. Games are evolving but don't be afraid the fun games will always be the majority...just like for movies.

I'm not trying to tell anyone that they are wrong to enjoy the game. I'm merely defending my position as to why I dislike it and arguing the original notion that started this. When I was told this:

bastardofmelbourne:
Why is it so ludicrous? The whole point of Spec Ops is that we shouldn't be playing these types of games. If you don't want to be a party to Walker's actions...don't play. That's their answer. Turn the game off. You can do it at any time.

Can't you?

Why can they tell you what games to enjoy or not enjoy. That is not something I want in a game.

This thread just reeks of...


It was a thought provoking game that stayed with people despite it's shortcomings.

ShinyCharizard:

I can understand your point. But to have to pay money in order to play a game that tells you not too enjoy yourself and to stop playing is something that I cannot support.

Spunkgagelweewees have been doing that to themselves since MW2. Spec Ops is just stating the obvious (and preaching to the choir imo)

ShinyCharizard:
I can understand your point. But to have to pay money in order to play a game that tells you not too enjoy yourself and to stop playing is something that I cannot support.

It's not literally telling you to stop playing the game, it's just that making that option known creates the parallel between Walker's actions and the player's.

As for not enjoying yourself well, what does it mean to have fun exactly? In games we typically get enjoyment out of levelling up, overcoming challenges, gaining points, winning, etc. Things that lead to happy feelings. Other mediums though aren't limited to happy emotions though, so why should games be? Does is Schindler's List a movie that makes you feel happy? It shouldn't be, yet it's a good movie, a movie that people want to watch despite the fact that it makes them feel sad, a negative emotion that you typically don't want to feel.

Gatx:

ShinyCharizard:
I can understand your point. But to have to pay money in order to play a game that tells you not too enjoy yourself and to stop playing is something that I cannot support.

It's not literally telling you to stop playing the game, it's just that making that option known creates the parallel between Walker's actions and the player's.

As for not enjoying yourself well, what does it mean to have fun exactly? In games we typically get enjoyment out of levelling up, overcoming challenges, gaining points, winning, etc. Things that lead to happy feelings. Other mediums though aren't limited to happy emotions though, so why should games be? Does is Schindler's List a movie that makes you feel happy? It shouldn't be, yet it's a good movie, a movie that people want to watch despite the fact that it makes them feel sad, a negative emotion that you typically don't want to feel.

Yes I can agree with that. However the argument originally started when I was told that the point of the game was to make you feel bad for playing shooters and to not want to continue. That goes against what I believe a game should do. However to each their own.

ShinyCharizard:
That goes against what I believe a game should do.

In that case, may I ask why? Why shouldn't a game ask questions of you? Hell, why stop there. Even though I don't feel this is what Spec Ops does, let me ask hypothetically and directed at your original statement: why shouldn't a game tell you to stop enjoying shooters? Are games, and by extension their developers, not allowed to have an opinion even on the genre they work in?

ShinyCharizard:

I'm not trying to tell anyone that they are wrong to enjoy the game. I'm merely defending my position as to why I dislike it and arguing the original notion that started this. When I was told this:

bastardofmelbourne:
Why is it so ludicrous? The whole point of Spec Ops is that we shouldn't be playing these types of games. If you don't want to be a party to Walker's actions...don't play. That's their answer. Turn the game off. You can do it at any time.

Can't you?

Well you were replying to one very extreme (but perfectly valid interpretation) that you may have noticed the rest of us don't fully agree with.

You just pointed out how the game allows people to interpret it as they wish. So that's another Positive! lol

My only issue with it is that people are treating it as a searing indictment of war as opposed to an indictment of war games. I have seen far too many people respond to questions about the military and warfare with 'play spec ops man, it'll open your eyes'

In actuality, it is just as inaccurate in tone and setting as Modern Warfare 2, just coming around from the other side. this is not a problem in and of itself, but it leads to people assuming that since it is different from things that they know to be inaccurate that it somehow becomes a true representation of military operations, or at least the emotions and psyche of the people behind them.

Spec ops is a dark mirror to other games and Cpt walker is a dark mirror to other protagonists, but neither is any way accurate.

Other than that, I loved the game.

UrinalDook:

ShinyCharizard:
That goes against what I believe a game should do.

In that case, may I ask why? Why shouldn't a game ask questions of you? Hell, why stop there. Even though I don't feel this is what Spec Ops does, let me ask hypothetically and directed at your original statement: why shouldn't a game tell you to stop enjoying shooters? Are games, and by extension their developers, not allowed to have an opinion even on the genre they work in?

This is something that people complain about on these forums everyday. That people are wrong to judge the games that they enjoy. Why is it now okay when a dev does it and charges money for it.

IronMit:

ShinyCharizard:

I'm not trying to tell anyone that they are wrong to enjoy the game. I'm merely defending my position as to why I dislike it and arguing the original notion that started this. When I was told this:

bastardofmelbourne:
Why is it so ludicrous? The whole point of Spec Ops is that we shouldn't be playing these types of games. If you don't want to be a party to Walker's actions...don't play. That's their answer. Turn the game off. You can do it at any time.

Can't you?

Well you were replying to one very extreme (but perfectly valid interpretation) that you may have noticed the rest of us don't fully agree with.

You just pointed out how the game allows people to interpret it as they wish. So that's another Positive! lol

Ok I get now that you don't fully agree with that interpretation. However your first comment to me quoted that one by Bastardofmelbourne. And that is why i assumed you shared the same view.

getoffmycloud:
I do think some people don't think in the right mindset when it comes to this game. The main criticism it gets from people who don't like it is the gameplay is mediocre, which if it was left to stand on its own merits I would agree with. However when it is coupled with the story it changes because one of the stories messages is war isn't fun. The game needed sub par shooting in order to tell its message.

I think of it in the same way I think of survival horror games and their controls. Amnesia and Silent Hill are both games with clunky awkward controls but they add to the experience the designers were trying to create and both games would be worse off without them.

I think the main complaint is that the gameplay just really doesn't work all time. I died a lot because of bad controls. But it is true that they made the gameplay really recognizable so a player who has played similar games, would get in the same mindset really fast and then be called out on that. The controls did add to the experience, but the it was still flawed and justified criticism.

I don't think it is overrated. I really "enjoyed" my time with it, although I went in the game knowing some of the stuff already which was a shame.

ShinyCharizard:

UrinalDook:

ShinyCharizard:
That goes against what I believe a game should do.

In that case, may I ask why? Why shouldn't a game ask questions of you? Hell, why stop there. Even though I don't feel this is what Spec Ops does, let me ask hypothetically and directed at your original statement: why shouldn't a game tell you to stop enjoying shooters? Are games, and by extension their developers, not allowed to have an opinion even on the genre they work in?

This is something that people complain about on these forums everyday. That people are wrong to judge the games that they enjoy. Why is it now okay when a dev does it and charges money for it.

How do you know it's the exact same people?

Or if it were the same people maybe they were annoyed about the WAY it was being judged.
I find it's hypocritical that people slate my shooter games when they watch trash TV like x factor. Or judge shooter games and leave movies and books and the news intact.

spec ops 'judges' the genre in a different way, if it does at all. It may just be examining the simplicity of the genre

Spec ops made you question why you play the genre. When the majority of other people judge games they are blaming it for all of societies problems and not their culture, wage inequality etc etc

.... most people that judge games don't know anything about games.
Spec ops examines shooters whilst being a shooter. Massive massive difference.. you really went off on a tangent here to further your absolutest opinion that this game shouldn't exist.

Machine Man 1992:
It claims to be a deconstruction of Moder War games when it itself is a modern war game.

It needs to be in order to introduce twists on tired tropes.

Machine Man 1992:
It claims to lambast the player for engaging in war crimes (and I could do a whole separate rant on why I think the very idea of war crimes is stupid) and then FORCES the player to do horrible things.

As Konrad says in the heavily fourth-wall-breaking ending scene, "none of this would have happened if you just stopped. But on you marched. And for what?" - this game is HEAVY on the fourth wall. Both Walker and the player thought "This is really wrong, but it's kind of what I'm supposed to do, right? I don't have a choice, I have to continue" when they could have just stopped.
The loading screens are also full of stuff like "To kill for yourself is murder. To kill for your country is heroic. To kill for entertainment is harmless" or "The US military doesn't condone violence against unarmed combatants. But this isn't real, so why should you care?"

Machine Man 1992:
It targets the consumer when it should be aiming itself at developers or the publishers that mandate what they create.

It targets players on purpose. Those that want this puerile power fantasy, this romanticization of war, they want to feel like heroes for mindlessly killing whatever the game throws in front of them.
The game explicitly condemns these players for shutting their brain off. It wants to switch on their brains again and make them think about what they're doing, be critical of what they're doing.

"Do you feel like a hero yet?"
"You're here because you wanted to feel like someone you're not: A hero"

Again, these are themes that go with the players as well as with Walker, who from the beginning wanted to reach the heroism of the idol described in the opening narration: Konrad. Even as his psyche turns the guy into a scapegoat, Walker continues until the end because the believes he is (or can be) the hero, the guy that solves everything by killing the bad dude, the one that can save Dubai.
And players want pats on the shoulder as well, be it because they gain points or because of a flashing VICTORY screen or because they win against impossible odds as the good guys in a good VS evil war as frequently depicted by shooters.

Machine Man 1992:
It has the same problem as Warhammer 40000, in that its so bleak that it's impossible to take seriously. Things get so dark and so gritty, it almost becomes a black comedy, or hell, it does become a black comedy whenever The Radioman opens his fat gob.

It starts off with Lugo making piss-poor jokes and Adams laughing at them. Radioman, as you've already stated, later serves as the middleground with stuff like "Where does all this violence come from! Is it the videogames? I bet it's the videogames!". After his death, you're well into hell by now, so jokes just seem completely misplaced when Lugo attempts a heroic sacrifice, goes missing some time later and ends up hanged. Inserting a joke there just would have been terrible taste. There's also not a whole lot of room for anyone to breathe after the water is lost.

Can't comment on 40k because I find its over-the-top-ness cheesy and hilarious, and believe it's done on purpose to some degree.

Machine Man 1992:
Finally, the whole concept, the whole being of the game is utterly paradoxical: the story is meant to make players question why they play games, players want the game to be fun, the game can't be fun or the players won't question, but if the game isn't fun, then the players fuck off and play something that is, so to try and make them stay, the game tries to be both fun and not fun, and features lots of exploding heads and slo-mo giblets. You see? It's hypocritical to have your game be wall-to-wall violence and have an ultimately anti-violence message.

If Spec Ops makes you switch off the game because you've decided you can no longer justify all the amoral stuff you're doing in it with "for entertainment!", then it's achieved one of its prime goals. It means Spec Ops made the player criticize his own behavior and change it - maybe that's even the devs' best case scenario for what players could take from this game.

I think the slow-mo gibbing heads can be interpreted differently. Yahtzee came to one conclusion, I think it's supposed to break the action on purpose so you have a moment to think about what you've just done. Spec Ops does like lingering on the bad stuff you do, most prominently the WP scene, so it doesn't seem out of line for its design.

Machine Man 1992:
Having an awesome and subversive story means absolutely dick when your gameplay is crap. There are certain rules you have to abide in this medium, certain inviolable rules, and Spec Ops broke them.

There's plenty of popular (as "objective" as we're ever going to get to "good") games with weak gameplay and great other aspects like narrative. People usually agree that Morrowind is a pretty good game with great atmosphere and world-crafting for example, even if the main mechanic, combat, is pretty terrible.
There's also more gameplay to Spec Ops than cover-based TPS. Frequently a single shot, or lack therof, makes for the most impactful decisions you get to make. Try to think of Spec Ops as a bit less of a game and a bit more of a message and critique told as it could only be told in an interactive medium with a post-modern audience filled to the brink with cod clones.

Machine Man 1992:
Finally, trying to use killing to shock a seasoned videogame player is like trying to put out a chemical fire with a garden hose. It tales a lot more than just "These people died, AND IT'S YOUR FAULT!!!!11one!" to get a reaction other than a maniacal grin from me.

If stuff like the WP scene didn't shock you, it's not the game that's broken. But it's part of what Spec Ops criticizes actually, that we've become so dulled by violent entertainment we don't think about it anymore and don't feel bad about it anymore. And I'm glad I've had that little eye-opener, because it made me feel utterly, utterly disgusted at playing the flamethrower level in FarCry 3. It's almost a comical counter-part to Spec Ops, what with two chars having a massive gun boner for the flamethrower, reggae WUB WUB ad nauseum, drugs, red barrels and waves of masked mooks as far as the eye could see.

Meatspinner:
Spec Ops is just stating the obvious (and preaching to the choir imo)

You might get that impression on forums like these because most people now playing the game got it because they were intrigued by its criticism. However, it was designed to look like spunkgargleweewee exactly so that people that like spunkgargleweewees pick it up and Spec Ops does *not* have to preach to the choir.

kanyewhite:
In fact, if it was a film, I think it wouldn't be praised. The twist at the end felt like the bad Twilight Zone episodes

Spec Ops: The Line is great BECAUSE it would not be as compelling a film. A film or a book has to be open to interpretation by being ostensibly vague. Spec Ops allows the audience to actually see their interpretation of the character through and act accordingly.

Put bluntly, based on what you've said about it, it seems like you may have missed part of what it's ultimately about.

Also, regarding the ending, there is no twist. It's a progression since

But no, I would not say it's overrated at all. Maybe it gets a lot of praise around here but if you look at the sales numbers and most mainstream gaming outlets' "top whatever games of 2012" it might as well not even exist.

ShinyCharizard:

This is something that people complain about on these forums everyday. That people are wrong to judge the games that they enjoy. Why is it now okay when a dev does it and charges money for it.

That's actually a very good response, and you've caught me between trying to decide whether I support the rights of people to like what they like in peace, or the rights of others to criticise people based on what they like.

At the moment, I think I support both and that... doesn't make any sense.

Perhaps I'll duck out by saying I think sometimes you need people to criticise your tastes so you can either reaffirm - for yourself if no one else - why you like those things, or reassess your position.

UrinalDook:

That's actually a very good response, and you've caught me between trying to decide whether I support the rights of people to like what they like in peace, or the rights of others to criticise people based on what they like.

At the moment, I think I support both and that... doesn't make any sense.

Perhaps I'll duck out by saying I think sometimes you need people to criticise your tastes so you can either reaffirm - for yourself if no one else - why you like those things, or reassess your position.

Well I'm glad we can end it on a agreeable note. This argument expanded out of control fast.

Oh? Sorry if it felt like an argument. For me it was a humble discussion, and I enjoyed every step of it.

I thought it was great...even though I completely disagreed with it.

My main problem was the lack of choice. Some people say "Well why didnīt you stop playing then?" I just donīt think that argument really holds any water. Not only would you maybe have gotten at most two hours entertainment out of this 60$ product, youīd also be doing something that goes against all logic.

Ask yourself: What is the point of a game?

The answer is: To be played with.

Therefore, if the game is designed with the hope that you will not play with it, it is a fundamentally flawed game.

If we follow that point, we end up with the inevitable conclusion that what we did in the game was the only real, logical option we could possibly have taken, meaning Walker was JUSTIFIED in bombing those civilians, because it was in reality: The only option available.

Then why did I like it? Because it took me a good day or two to figure out those arguments that relieved me of responsibility. Iīve never had to think that long or that hard about a game, and thatīs why I like it. It doesnīt have to win the argument to be a good game, it just has to engage you in it long enough.

I chose "yes". I had a wonderful time with the game, and might even play it again given the time, but I didn't feel any of the feelings people were so shocked with: I didn't feel as if the game was accusing me of "being a mindless gamer", and the impact scenes such as the ending or the whole attack with... I don't recall it, it was like napalm, you know what I'm talking about... There was no "emotional punch", Bioshock, Mass Effect, Lost Odyssey and others have made me question the character's motives much more. Of course, if I only focus on, shall we call it, "realistic shooters" (CoD, which I LOVE, Battlefield, etc.) this IS the only one to bring a few emotions other than simply "follow orders". What i liked the least was the ending, it was very cliché, and out of touch from both Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now...
Saying that this medium (games) is an art, ummm well... WHAT is an art? I mean, nowadays one can throw shit mixed with urine and semen on top of a brick wall, encase it and present it as "art", I'm sorry, but it's not, it's just crap, movies are art, but are everyone of them? What defines art, I don't believe it's the medium, you filming something, putting paint to the canvas, or even programming the game, that doesn't define art. Don't ask me what does, because saying it's "quality" would be unfair as well, it would be subjective, I love Da Vinci and I love Dalí, but I hate Picasso, I think it lacks taste, but for some reason, I will never say "it isn't art". Anyway, I don't think Spec Ops was a piece of art, much more entertainment for the sake of it, I hate to say it, but it's true, same goes for Mass Effect, I'd say Bioshock, however, had that something else to it, and without a doubt, Lost Odyssey, true works of art both of them.

awesomeClaw:
I thought it was great...even though I completely disagreed with it.

My main problem was the lack of choice. Some people say "Well why didnīt you stop playing then?" I just donīt think that argument really holds any water. Not only would you maybe have gotten at most two hours entertainment out of this 60$ product, youīd also be doing something that goes against all logic.

Ask yourself: What is the point of a game?

The answer is: To be played with.

Therefore, if the game is designed with the hope that you will not play with it, it is a fundamentally flawed game.

If we follow that point, we end up with the inevitable conclusion that what we did in the game was the only real, logical option we could possibly have taken, meaning Walker was JUSTIFIED in bombing those civilians, because it was in reality: The only option available.

Then why did I like it? Because it took me a good day or two to figure out those arguments that relieved me of responsibility. Iīve never had to think that long or that hard about a game, and thatīs why I like it. It doesnīt have to win the argument to be a good game, it just has to engage you in it long enough.

The game tricks you into thinking there is choice. It gives you a few fake choices but the exact same things happen anyway. eg. Gould always dies.
Just so when the White phosphorpus scene comes up you regain control but have your character say 'there is no choice'. If they didn't trick you into thinking there were choices near the start of the game then the white phosphorous scene wouldn't raise the question 'where is my choice!?' It would be like a typical shooter but would simply show the downfall of Walker without the 4th wall stuff
The WP scene lets you regain control and activate the WP. So it feels like a decision.

Would you continue the game if it suddenly told you to kill babies in cold blood? Who would you blame if you did? would you take any responsibility for continuing? Would you blame the fact that you payed for the game so you have to complete it?

You think you are role playing as Walker...but the WP event is where the disconnect happens and then he blames everyone else and not himself. The player is blaming the game designers and not himself.

Konrad illusion at the end asks you who is to blame for the 47 deaths. If you shoot yourself then you take responsibility in game and in real life. If you wish to reject his 'you should of just stopped' argument then you shoot him.

You will never accept responsibility if you think along the lines of 'I payed $60, of course I will complete it'lol. Rather imagine all games are free and there are so many of them to play. You could of easily ejected the disc and played something else.

You are right though..the game almost loses it's audience in the very tricky WP scene. You were 'guided' towards the WP instead of having your fake choice. But then there would be no story.

Another theory is Walker die's in the helicopter at the start. And the entire game is Walker justifying his actions to himself. 'konrad's trying to prove a point'..about war. 'I've done this before'. Therefore nothing can change. Just if he accepts or rejects it was his fault at the end. That's the only real choice

awesomeClaw:
I thought it was great...even though I completely disagreed with it.

My main problem was the lack of choice. Some people say "Well why didnīt you stop playing then?" I just donīt think that argument really holds any water. Not only would you maybe have gotten at most two hours entertainment out of this 60$ product, youīd also be doing something that goes against all logic.

Ask yourself: What is the point of a game?

The answer is: To be played with.

Therefore, if the game is designed with the hope that you will not play with it, it is a fundamentally flawed game.

If we follow that point, we end up with the inevitable conclusion that what we did in the game was the only real, logical option we could possibly have taken, meaning Walker was JUSTIFIED in bombing those civilians, because it was in reality: The only option available.

Then why did I like it? Because it took me a good day or two to figure out those arguments that relieved me of responsibility. Iīve never had to think that long or that hard about a game, and thatīs why I like it. It doesnīt have to win the argument to be a good game, it just has to engage you in it long enough.

This. Granted, I started to loathe the game for the exact same reasons, but looking back now, I think it was more I was sick of the opinion hive-mind and was raging against the established order.

Overrated? No.

Over-hyped? Fuck yes.

Let us be honest here; whenever something is touted as the "best (thing) ever", no matter the medium, people will come into it with expectations that nothing will ever live up to. Take Citizen Kane, for example. When I saw it for the first time, it was after having been repeatedly bludgeoned over the head with how it's the greatest movie ever made. The movie was still very good, but I was still disappointed at the end because it didn't live up to the expectations I had of the "greatest movie of all time".

Spec Ops: The Line is a good game, a great game, but the hype surrounding it has forced it to try to live up to expectations that it could never hope to satisfy.

The Walking Dead is far more overrated than Spec Ops.

Machine Man 1992:
It claims to be a deconstruction of Moder War games when it itself is a modern war game.

Marik Bentusi:

It needs to be in order to introduce twists on tired tropes.

But it doesn't. The gameplay is a Gears of War style TPS with sand physics. Sure the story is a more "realistic" take on the Modern War story. If you want to deconstruct or satirize a genre, don't be exactly like it.

Machine Man 1992:
It claims to lambast the player for engaging in war crimes (and I could do a whole separate rant on why I think the very idea of war crimes is stupid) and then FORCES the player to do horrible things.

Marik Bentusi:

As Konrad says in the heavily fourth-wall-breaking ending scene, "none of this would have happened if you just stopped. But on you marched. And for what?" - this game is HEAVY on the fourth wall. Both Walker and the player thought "This is really wrong, but it's kind of what I'm supposed to do, right? I don't have a choice, I have to continue" when they could have just stopped.
The loading screens are also full of stuff like "To kill for yourself is murder. To kill for your country is heroic. To kill for entertainment is harmless" or "The US military doesn't condone violence against unarmed combatants. But this isn't real, so why should you care?"

I see fourth wall breaking as a flaw, not a virtue. If you can't communicate your message without talking directly to the audience, then the problem lies in the shitty writing, not in the audience. The loading screen inanity is shit I already know, because like most people I can tell the difference between real and simulated violence.

Marik Bentusi:

Machine Man 1992:
It targets the consumer when it should be aiming itself at developers or the publishers that mandate what they create.

It targets players on purpose. Those that want this puerile power fantasy, this romanticization of war, they want to feel like heroes for mindlessly killing whatever the game throws in front of them.
The game explicitly condemns these players for shutting their brain off. It wants to switch on their brains again and make them think about what they're doing, be critical of what they're doing.

"Do you feel like a hero yet?"
"You're here because you wanted to feel like someone you're not: A hero"

Again, these are themes that go with the players as well as with Walker, who from the beginning wanted to reach the heroism of the idol described in the opening narration: Konrad. Even as his psyche turns the guy into a scapegoat, Walker continues until the end because the believes he is (or can be) the hero, the guy that solves everything by killing the bad dude, the one that can save Dubai.
And players want pats on the shoulder as well, be it because they gain points or because of a flashing VICTORY screen or because they win against impossible odds as the good guys in a good VS evil war as frequently depicted by shooters.

Except the player isn't Walker. The game goes out of it's way to try and alienate the player. This isn't the player's fault, all I am is an angry little id that takes over for the combat, so I feel the blame the game tries to lay at my feet is undeserved. The game hasn't earned the right to lay any guilt on me, because it hasn't done anything to make me part of the game.

Marik Bentusi:

Machine Man 1992:
It has the same problem as Warhammer 40000, in that its so bleak that it's impossible to take seriously. Things get so dark and so gritty, it almost becomes a black comedy, or hell, it does become a black comedy whenever The Radioman opens his fat gob.

It starts off with Lugo making piss-poor jokes and Adams laughing at them. Radioman, as you've already stated, later serves as the middleground with stuff like "Where does all this violence come from! Is it the videogames? I bet it's the videogames!". After his death, you're well into hell by now, so jokes just seem completely misplaced when Lugo attempts a heroic sacrifice, goes missing some time later and ends up hanged. Inserting a joke there just would have been terrible taste. There's also not a whole lot of room for anyone to breathe after the water is lost.

Can't comment on 40k because I find its over-the-top-ness cheesy and hilarious, and believe it's done on purpose to some degree.

I'll concede this point.

Marik Bentusi:

Machine Man 1992:
Finally, the whole concept, the whole being of the game is utterly paradoxical: the story is meant to make players question why they play games, players want the game to be fun, the game can't be fun or the players won't question, but if the game isn't fun, then the players fuck off and play something that is, so to try and make them stay, the game tries to be both fun and not fun, and features lots of exploding heads and slo-mo giblets. You see? It's hypocritical to have your game be wall-to-wall violence and have an ultimately anti-violence message.

If Spec Ops makes you switch off the game because you've decided you can no longer justify all the amoral stuff you're doing in it with "for entertainment!", then it's achieved one of its prime goals. It means Spec Ops made the player criticize his own behavior and change it - maybe that's even the devs' best case scenario for what players could take from this game.

I think the slow-mo gibbing heads can be interpreted differently. Yahtzee came to one conclusion, I think it's supposed to break the action on purpose so you have a moment to think about what you've just done. Spec Ops does like lingering on the bad stuff you do, most prominently the WP scene, so it doesn't seem out of line for its design.

"Just stop playing" is a bullshit argument. It has to be a legitimate choice from within the game itself. Turning off the game is a choice made outside of the game, and therefore NOT part of the game.

And there's a line (see what I did there?) between lingering on the bad stuff you do (which I remind you, you have no option not to do) and grindhouse style gratuitous exploitation. Spec Ops crosses this line and keeps going. In attempting to show you the horrible stuff the game made you do, it ultimately undermines it's own point while doing so.

Marik Bentusi:

Machine Man 1992:
Having an awesome and subversive story means absolutely dick when your gameplay is crap. There are certain rules you have to abide in this medium, certain inviolable rules, and Spec Ops broke them.

There's plenty of popular (as "objective" as we're ever going to get to "good") games with weak gameplay and great other aspects like narrative. People usually agree that Morrowind is a pretty good game with great atmosphere and world-crafting for example, even if the main mechanic, combat, is pretty terrible.
There's also more gameplay to Spec Ops than cover-based TPS. Frequently a single shot, or lack therof, makes for the most impactful decisions you get to make. Try to think of Spec Ops as a bit less of a game and a bit more of a message and critique told as it could only be told in an interactive medium with a post-modern audience filled to the brink with cod clones.

I can't comment on Morrowind, or Oblivion for that matter, because Skyrim was the only TES game I've ever played, but I will say that there's more to an RPG's gameplay than combat. A TPS like Spec Ops' gameplay is combat. If the combat is utterly pedestrian, then it's a crappy TPS, end of story.

Marik Bentusi:

Machine Man 1992:
Finally, trying to use killing to shock a seasoned videogame player is like trying to put out a chemical fire with a garden hose. It tales a lot more than just "These people died, AND IT'S YOUR FAULT!!!!11one!" to get a reaction other than a maniacal grin from me.

If stuff like the WP scene didn't shock you, it's not the game that's broken. But it's part of what Spec Ops criticizes actually, that we've become so dulled by violent entertainment we don't think about it anymore and don't feel bad about it anymore. And I'm glad I've had that little eye-opener, because it made me feel utterly, utterly disgusted at playing the flamethrower level in FarCry 3. It's almost a comical counter-part to Spec Ops, what with two chars having a massive gun boner for the flamethrower, reggae WUB WUB ad nauseum, drugs, red barrels and waves of masked mooks as far as the eye could see.

Far Cry 3 is also fun. Remember that, Fun? What we used to have before it became to mainstream? And if we've become so dulled by constant violence, then wouldn't it behoove the game to try and broach it's message in a way that we aren't numb to?

kanyewhite:
In fact, if it was a film, I think it wouldn't be praised.

Um...

image

Spec Ops is praised for doing something different. you're thinking of it in a linear, gameplay/narrative quality sense, which was never the developers intent. the gameplay is generic and stale for a very good reason: its not that they couldnt make it better, its that the whole freakin point of the game is to make you question the true value of all the other generic and stale shooters you play. to put it bluntly: you're not supposed to enjoy it. the game was made to deconstruct a genre, not provide a good example of it. Yager wanted to communicate something with their game, and they communicated that message very well, something few games have done, and for that they should be praised.

you cant think of it in an X out of 10 kind of way. it had a message, and it delivered it well. a refreshing change of pace from games simply trying to out-gore each other, dont you think?

For a condemnation of videogaming, it sure is.
But the story definitely had its moments. Just wish it had a little less hatred for its audience.

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