E3 2010: Spec Ops: The Line First Impressions - Drawing A Line In The Sand
Written Wednesday, June 30, 2010 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Spec Ops: The Line may on the face of it sound like some cheesy 70s TV cop show, but it is in fact a very serious military-themed shooter with some truly grim connotations.
“With this game we seek to bring 2K’s signature sense of narrative depth and rich atmosphere to the military shooter genre,” notes 2K Games Producer, Greg Kasavin, and as truly impressive games tend to go at trade-shows, the 2K reps on hand were more than keen to cut the chatter and jump straight into the action. Starting off in a level that takes place about halfway through the game, we pick up with the 4 man squad in an exotic, but rundown lobby of a once luxurious Dubai hotel.
In Spec Ops, Dubai is a city that is a shell of its former self and after a series of cataclysmic sandstorms, the city has been sent back into the dark ages, rendering it uninhabitable. Dubai as a city though wasn’t completely devastated by these sandstorms, in fact, it’s quite the opposite and the once extravagant skyscrapers still stand with their class and riches entombed beneath millions of tons of sand. The lobby that Martin Walker – the protagonist – and his squad walk through is lined with huge, epic giraffe statues that decorate either side of the entrance, with the remnants of a once prosperous city intent on growth, revealed by a lonely mock-up model of what should have been.
Walker and co. barely broke a sweat with their first brief exchange with a couple of enemy combatants who dropped in through the skylight courtesy of a pesky chopper. One of Walker’s men recognises them as Gould’s men, signified by a red bandana on his arm. Gould incidentally is the Greyfox team leader who was sent into save Conrad – which is now Walker’s objective – but went missing in action along with his squad. With Gould still alive and now turning on Walker and his men, you can’t help but think there’s something fishy going on here. If Walker didn’t think that, we certainly did.
Part of Spec Ops’ unique sell – other than the brutal military themed shooter – is what Yager do with the environment and more importantly, the sand deformation. You may have seen in an earlier trailer a clip of Walker shooting from behind some cover, when moments later the floor disappears from underneath him because of the intense weight of the sand on a glass skylight below it. This will be a major part of the gameplay and in this instance, it’s the only way our squad is leaving this lobby – a couple of shots to one of the windows and the sand seeps in, creating a pathway out for Walker.
“Oh my God!!” Walker exclaims, taken aback by the abhorrent view the team comes across as they turn the corner: a street that leads to downtown, where as far as the eye can see bodies hang from the lampposts with a sign warning against trespassers. “Who the hell would do this?” questions one of Walker’s men. “That’s not something I want to think about right now,” he replies, as the team ignores the warning sign and continue past the blockade.
Of course, Spec Ops: The Line is actually a third-person shooter, although up until now, there hasn’t been much shooting. As the team makes its way through the street to a fairly open area – a car graveyard of sorts – here they come across a bunch of looters. Before the team makes their advance, they sit in wait, listening in for any intel they can make use of. After being spotted, all hell breaks loose and the cover shooter comes into its own. The team mantel their way over cover, flank their foes, use sticky grenades and offer cover fire as they clear the area of the looters. The sand mechanic re-enters the fray once again as Walker uses it to bury a small group of enemy combatants. We also caught a glimpse of the contextual squad commands as well, but these are of course optional; “These are Delta force guys, they don’t need you to hold their hands,” adds Kasavin.
Spec Ops: The Line is shaping up to be something fresh from a third person shooter perspective. Sure, the cover mechanic is older than my pair of lucky pants and realistic shooters aren’t anything new, but you combine that with an impressive sand mechanic – dear 2K, you need a better marketing name for it – and you have a totally different ball game. Being a shooter, also expect plenty of multiplayer including co-operative and team based modes that have some “interesting hooks to the main narrative” – hopefully that involves sand. If you can’t wait till next year, there’s always the beta that will be on Xbox Live “relatively soon.”
Spec Ops: The Line is touching down sometime in 2011.