Gadget Show Live 2012: Spec Ops: The Line

During our trip around ‘The Gadget Show Live’ showfloor we came across the Spec Ops: The Line stand.

It’s been a number of years since the last Spec Ops title, so I was very interested to see what Yager Development/2k Games have done to bring the series up to modern standards.

Set 6 months after a task force goes missing a weak distress signal is spotted near to their last known location. The Delta Operators are dispatched to investigate and look for the missing marines…

The game itself is based in Dubai. The series has stuck to its third-person roots which instantly feels refreshing as you’d be forgiven for thinking based on all the POS and adverts seen so far that it could be another competitor for Call of Duty and Battlefield. While the studio may have considered switching to a first-person shooter due to it being the genre of the moment, I for one am glad they stayed with a third-person perspective.

After spending a few moments getting to grips with the controls, which are pretty standard in this particular genre (left trigger zoom, right trigger shoot) you can start to enjoy what’s on offer. After shooting a number of the rebels using the flexible cover system, I soon started to compare it to another popular game of the same genre, Gears of War. Once I’d started to compare it to Gears it became quite apparent that it plays an awful lot like Gears. Not that it’s totally a bad thing…

To say they’ve used Gears of War as inspiration is true, but that’s not to say all of the controls match those seen in Epic’s popular franchise. For example to sprint in Spec Ops you tap A instead of holding A. If you hold A you’ll automatically stick to the first bit of cover you hit. While behind a piece of cover you can then tap B to vault over it, which is easier than pressing forward and A in GoW (and also prevents accidental jumping into the fray).

The demo was quite lengthy and featured the standard gameplay elements which are the staple of most of the game. The on-foot section of the demo revolved around a crashed passenger jet crawling with rebels. The cover mechanics worked a treat, and seeing as it feels like your playing Gears of War it was unsurprisingly easy to get into. Your character can’t take many hits, so cover really is your best friend. Speaking of friends…you also have basic control over your A.I team-mates, who you can order to take up certain positions and to give you covering fire.

The second part of the demo was more of an on-the-rails affair. Your character is aboard an attack helicopter, of which you have to defend in flight by shooting down enemy ‘choppers. This particular section really showed off the cityscape as your flying between disused skyscrapers that have seen better days. It was a pretty standard set-piece that has been done before, but it was a solid enough section to add diversity to the title.

Dubai makes an excellent location for a game (hooray for it not being set in a ‘standard’ US city…). An amazing city in the real world which is a city that’s lost it’s battle against nature. Everything looks neat, however from the demo it seemed as though the scenery lacked a little life. Again, from what I could tell in my play through of the demo, their were no signs of destructible environment, which is a little disappointing. It doesn’t look amazing graphically, however that’s not to say it’s a bad looking game.

The single-player aspect of the title is near completion, however it’s multiplayer is not. The studio are inputting the rest of the time left before the game ships to balance out the multiplayer classes. Aside from a short video displaying the different classes that will be available at launch the booth didn’t have any playable multiplayer.

From what I can tell the game doesn’t want to make you feel like an American hero. It instead wants you to feel vulnerable, and although it isn’t completely realistic, it does go some way to be more realistic than say Call of Duty. The actual game is slightly based on the novel ‘Heart of Darkness’, which was also the inspiration for the film ‘Apocalypse Now’.

While the game was enjoyable, it didn’t have that ‘wow’ factor that would push the title up my most anticipated games list. It did however mark it’s place on my radar, as before The Gadget Show it wasn’t a game I really had much interest in. The swinging point for me will be the multiplayer, as it certainly looks like it could be a lot of fun to play. Gears of War multiplayer is good, but a class-based equivalent would be even better.

One to keep an eye on.

P.S. The lead character, Captain Martin Walker, is voiced by none other than Nolan North (the guy who’s voice appears in a ton of videogames…)



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