2K Games released the Spec Ops: The Line demo today for Xbox Live Gold members and PSN users. The demo features a few of the game’s early single player campaign missions showcasing what seems to be a fairly compelling narrative and for those looking to trial the game’s multiplayer will be sadly disappointed as it is absent.
I took the demo for a spin and while I enjoyed it, the experience I had, felt, highly derivative. The game claims to be unlike any other military shooter on the market, but it is simply an amalgamation of all of them and even some non-military shooters.
It has everything that makes a modern shooter palatable. Large action set pieces, gratuitous violence, cheesy dialogue and a sense of scale, but Spec Ops: The Line didn’t show me anything that made me enamored with what this game is or could eventually be. I know I only played the demo and may be jumping to inaccurate conclusions, but this game is coming out in a month and a half so I will assume what I am playing is somewhat indicative of the final product.
The shooting, cover system and squad controls all work well and will feel familiar to any casual or hardcore shooter fan, but I just don’t think this game is going to set itself apart from the likes of a Gears or even a Ghost Recon title. Aside from this game’s obvious identity crisis, the story, which in most shooters is usually crap, can be its saving grace.
The story is surprisingly The Line’s most gleaming attribute. Sans the cookie cutter cover based shooting and puerile squad dialogue, the small tidbits of meaty narrative is what pushed me to finish the demo and get a glimpse into what tragedy has beset Dubai. I am genuinely interested is seeing how the story plays out and why the events unveiled in the demo came to be. To The Line’s credit, I usually find it hard to invest in a military shooter’s story because they are typical devoid of any character development and the narrative lacks emotional sentiment. The Line can change all that and for its sake I hope it does.
Story aside, the biggest mechanic 2K wants people to aware of was the strategic use of sand and how through various storms and the manipulation of sand the player can gain a tactical advantage over the enemy. This was shown very briefly in a video after the conclusion of the demo, but wasn’t actually made playable. I feel this was a mistake on their behalf, because having this “sand mechanic” as a unique selling point for The Line and not giving the players who are interested in purchasing this game the ability to actually see how it works makes me feel that it doesn’t perform well. Or to play devil’s advocate, introducing the “sand mechanic” in the demo could have exposed too much about the game’s story. Either way we will know soon enough.
Let me state that I don’t think Spec Ops: The Line is a bad game, because that couldn’t be further from the truth. Do I think the game is going to be overlooked? Unfortunately yes, but for those of you who do have an interest in this game the demo is out and if you like military shooters give it a whirl. If you do check it out stop back and let us know what you think about it by sounding off in the comments section and look for Spec Ops: The Line to hit store shelves this June.