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I don’t see the appeal of Spec Ops: The Line

Content of the article: "I don’t see the appeal of Spec Ops: The Line"

For those unaware, Spec Ops: The Line is a third-person shooter about an elite 'Delta Squad' sent into Dubai during horrific sandstorms, with the goal to help rescue people. Shit hits the fan and the mission completely goes off the rails. I've seen this game get a lot of praise in the past (hence why I put it in the backlog, why not), particularly for its subversion of the typical hero in a campaign shooter, depicting the brutality of war, etc. But I quite simply don't get why people like it as much as they do.

The gameplay is at best boring, and at worst it's frustrating due to the controls. Even rebinding them does nothing because multiple actions are set to single binds, which made the cover, vaulting, and interact keys easy to mix up. There's a lot of weird difficulty spikes (Chapter 14 especially), and the game bounced between easymode wave killing and straight bullshit. It's also just the same game throughout of just shooting waves of guys, over and over and over. There's no new mechanics or anything clever going on.

But people say this game is about the story, and I didn't find it as impactful as people say. It borrows heavily from Heart of Darkness, which is a book I adore. However, I felt its message was way too on the nose and obvious even from the start. I'm not a fan of the moral low point (the white phosphorus scene) because you have no choice, even as the line 'we always have a choice' is parroted throughout the game. Some of the smaller decisions were much better done and could have a better impact.

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Maybe there's a point to be made about video games and media desensitizing us to brutality like what Spec Ops: The Line depicts, but I don't know. I've played games that kicked me in the balls and made me feel genuine guilt. This one just made me shrug and think 'wow, ruthless murder is bad, what a concept'.

Glad to hear any opinions. Maybe I'm just off the mark for this one.


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