Spec Ops the Line surprisingly still holds up today. A game that casts us as a psychotic soldier who believes that he is saving people.
A story with a dark twist and no happy ending. I know it’s an older game, but it’s still pretty good. I dare say the story writing is better than many of the modern games today.
It’s also one of the few games that I’ve played where it casts you as the villain. However, it’s not apparent or obvious at the beginning.
What’s the story of Spec Ops the Line?
The story follows one Captain Walker and his 2 squad mates Lieutenant Adams and Sergeant Lugo. An elite Delta force team sent to Dubai for a reconnaissance mission upon receiving a very cryptic transmission.
Delta team was only sent in to see if the American soldiers who defected from the army were still active in Dubai.
This battalion was volunteered by their commander to help evacuate survivors of a catastrophic sandstorm that had buried the city.
Sadly, their attempt failed and headquarters ordered them to abandon the mission. I’m guessing Konrad, the leader of the company, didn’t like that order too much.
Instead of following orders, he decided to desert with his men and stay to rule over the remaining refugees. (Just to give some background info before the actual plot of Spec Ops The Line).
Shortly after Walker and his team land, they stumble upon a scene of carnage and find some fallen soldiers. At this point, Walker should have contacted base and given them an update.
After all, that was the mission, to find out what happened to the soldiers and see if there were any left. His teammates even told him to leave after that, but no, he decides to push on.
He wanted to find Konrad, the commander of the defected company, to get some answers. Walker had heard many of the terrible crimes the unhinged commander had committed, but didn’t want to believe them.
Still thinking that his savior was a good man, even after coming across some hard evidence as they make their way through the city.
Later on, they stumble upon a group of loyalist American soldiers who were still dutifully doing their job by trying to keep the refugees safe.
Unfortunately, the group mistakes Walker and his team as CIA operatives and proceeds to attack them. Adams and Lugo were disturbed by this turn of events, having to bring down fellow Americans.
They try to convince Walker to retreat and contact headquarters once again to no avail.
Next, they come across a full company who Walker thinks has taken the refugees as hostages.
Nearby is a mortar of white phosphorous. This chemical weapon is deadly and has a devastating effect on living things.
Lugo, being the most moral soldier of the group, objects to using it, but is overruled by his superiors. Walker proceeds to bombard the area.
Spec Ops the Line makes you a murderer.
What they find in the wreckage are maimed and burned soldiers who were just moving the refugees to a safer place in preparation of a battle. Once realizing this, they continue towards the area where the refugees were taking shelter only to find bodies in the same shape as the soldiers outside.
Traumatized by this, Adams and Lugo get into an argument, the latter calling out Captain Walker for turning them into murderers.
From here on, things get darker and the captain is hugely in denial, blaming Konrad for all the terrible things that he’s done.
He doesn’t show any outward remorse or take into account the spirits and minds of his teammates.
Walker just keeps pushing them forward, his mind deteriorating along with the relationship between his comrades.
It’s sad to see a friendly and highly respected relationship like the one between these 3 brothers-in-arms go down in flames like this.
All because their Captain didn’t want to own up to his crimes or listen to his teammates. Taking them all down with him.
More than just damaging their integrity, morals and mental health, he gets them killed, one more nail to his coffin. I could see that his men were losing themselves.
Once they were proud American soldiers part of an elite task force, now they’re just savage killers. I think Adams and Lugo stopped trying to convince Walker to turn back after that incident. They were in too deep now.
I don’t understand why they didn’t just simply stop following his orders though. Guess their loyalty to Walker was unwavering, even if they strongly disagreed with everything that he was doing. Both of them kept fighting at his side which just made their deaths even more tragic.
The worst part in Spec Ops the Line? They died for nothing.
As Walker nears his goal of getting to Konrad, he loses these upstanding soldiers on the way there. It’s not enough that he had to rob them of their morals, principles and sanity.
He just had to get them killed too, though that was probably best. I don’t think they’d be whole again after the things they did.
Besides, when Walker finally gets up to the room that Konrad is in, we find out that he’s been dead for a while.
It’s a pretty cruel, but good twist. Turns out that we were playing the bad guy all along. A psycho that believes he was forced to do these terrible things in order to save people.
This all began after he destroyed that cell of refugees earlier. Started hearing Konrad’s voice in his head, taunting him.
Captain Walker was in major denial too, so that didn’t help. In the end, Konrad’s “ghost” laid it all in front of him.
Walker was the one to blame, not some dead guy. Then we are given a choice, shoot Konrad’s reflection or our own.
Depending on which one you choose, there are different endings.
Shooting his own reflection results in a quick end to the game. In my opinion this is the best ending. It’s the decision where he finally owns up to his crimes and puts a stop to himself.
It may not be happy, but at least he’s taking responsibility, realizing that he’s the one at fault.
Choosing Konrad’s reflection will prolong the game, but Walker will remain in denial. Continuing his journey until he comes across a patrol. You can either surrender or shoot at them.
Opening fire on them will probably kill you, but if you survive another ending occurs.
Finally, at the very end, you can choose to join the soldiers. This is the darkest ending as Walker gets away with all the crimes he committed and he won’t feel bad about it. Cementing and reinforcing his denial and choosing to remain in his belief that he is innocent and did nothing wrong.
As you can see, there are no happy endings. It’s picking the lesser evil, or if you just want the achievements.
Do the controls and gameplay of Spec Ops the Line still hold up?
For an older game, the gameplay and controls weren’t as annoying as I thought they would be. Controls were very reminiscent of Gears of War 4.
Clunky and sometimes getting stuck on the wrong side of cover which brought up the game over screen a bit too many times for me.
The running mechanic was the worst I’ve experienced in a game. There was this one part near the end where I had to take cover in a sand buried yacht.
I ran over to it, trying to get on the upper deck before the enemies did. Annoyingly enough, Walker would keep running even after I stopped pressing the button.
I remember I had my thumb off the key for well over 2 seconds, yet he was still running. Didn’t even slow down or anything, and turning him was a chore.
I literally had to take all my fingers off the keyboard before he would stop. By then, I would have been shot to pieces. This was the part I struggled with the most, everything before that point was fine.
But, what can you expect from an older game like this? I actually went into it with lower expectations. So, I was surprised at how the gunfights were actually better than I thought.
It was tough, as it should be when going up against an army with only three people. Fun though.
Switching weapons was weird, as was throwing grenades. It’s not the standard scrolling with the mouse or pressing the corresponding number button.
Keybindings for these was a little strange, though I could have changed these to suit me better. Guess I wanted a challenge, so I kept them to the default.
Other than those sticky points, I found the game play and controls to be satisfactory.
Does Spec Ops the Line still look good?
Moving onto the graphics, I’d say they were alright. A little too orange for my taste, but still passable.
It wasn’t as grainy or bland as many other games. Bet the graphics were fantastic back when it came out in 2012. Textures were there, the level of detail was pretty good.
Facial animations are better than some of the games that we have today too. Might not notice them on Walker since he has a hard time accepting them, let alone showing them.
Animations were smooth and weren’t too clunky. Generally still a good-looking game despite showing its age.
Bottom line, I’d give this a 6/10
Overall, Spec Ops the Line wasn’t a bad game. In my opinion, the story line was okay and had good pacing. Lots of enemy spam though.
The heavy units were the worst, they can withstand four grenades thrown right under their feet and still be fine. Had to shoot their face, even then they could take a whole clip before going down.
A nice, short, third person shooter that can be finished in a few hours of the day. Assuming you can still do those long sessions of gaming.
What did you think of the game? Did you think you were going to be a hero?
Let me know down in the comments. For other shooting games you can check out some more reviews here.