Jan 18, 2017

04: Sand in my Shoes

OK guys, this is my 4th attempt on getting a nice introduction for this one, but Spec Ops: The Line doesn´t make it easy for me. At first I wanted to talk about how I don´t like 3rd Person Shooters that much, but it felt unimportant. Then I tried to approach it from the controversy that sourrounds this game and again it felt wrong. What I tried to say was: I get what Yager Development was trying with this game, but at least for me it doesn´t work because I think that Yager themself missed their own point. I do get that they want to take an anti-war position with this game and in both the cutscenes and the Storytelling itself it really works. They show you what effect your actions have, the characters question if their actions where necessary or not or if it was even the right thing to do. And the twist at the end really comes as a surprise and it works. I love the game for this, I really do, however it sadly still falls flat on it´s face and leaves you with very mixed feelings because the gameplay doesn´t support the anti-war approach the game tries to take. The big issue here is that Spec Ops is just a run off the mill cover based 3rd Person Shooter with a few turret-sections mixed in for good measure. And to make matters worse the violence during gameplay sections is way over the top with heads exploding with huge amounts of blood leaving bodies with a clean cut at the neck. It just feels wrong to have a splatterfest while mowing down waves of enemies and then trying to tell the player "Look at this, this is how bad war is and it does bad stuff even to tough soldiers!", it just doesn´t work.

This issue is even sadder when you realize how much Yager managed to get right with Spec Ops. Sure, the gameplay isn´t anything special, but Dubai covered and partialy buried in sand from a series of Sandstorms makes for both a very unique and in places surprisingly beautiful setting. In other places you really feel that this version of Dubai is a place where people have to fight to survive and fear for their lives on a daily basis. The environmental storytelling works and it feels like a lot of thought went into building a believable place. The Soundtrack is a mix of a less memorable original score and much more memorable licensed music by Deep Purple, Jimmi Hendrix and Bjork among many more. Amazingly each of these Songs fits the scene they are used in perfectly. The Story itself? A somewhat forgettable mess. Like mentioned above Dubai was hit by a series of Sandstorms and while the rich and wealthy upper class left the city before things got too bad the working class got trapped in the city. When Colonel Konrad, leader of the 33rd Infantry Battalion heard about the Sandstorms he vouluntered the 33rd to help and ignored orders to abandon the city. When the Storms got so bad that the city got cut off from the outer world Konrad declared martial law and the 33rd began to commit atrocities to the civilians left in the city. Some members of the 33rd didn´t like this and they tried to stage an coup d´etat, wich failed and got them exiled. The CIA then send in a Black Ops Team to investigate, as a part of this plan they started a revolution with the civialns to bring Konrad down. After a looping radio transmission get´s out of the city a three man Delta Force Team is send in to gather information.

Like I said the Story is a bit of a mess, heck, most of the time I wasn´t even sure if the CIA and their followers where on my side or not and at some point I stopped caring  about who it was I where shooting at. Sure, this may have been the intention of the developrs, but at the point I didn´t care anymore about my enemies the whole idea of the game already fell flat for me. Don´t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the game as a cover based 3rd Person Shooter, and as that it is great, but in my opinion the anti-war message they tried to get across doesn´t work when the gameplay doesn´t support it. For that the game schould have been much slower with much fewer enemies and a more realistic approach to violence. Yes, I do know that a slow, realistic game with an anti-war message would have been much harder to sell and andvertize, but I feel that it is the only way to really get the message to the people that play the game. I still recommend that you play Spec Ops: The Line yourself, just don´t expect that everything feels like it should belong in the same piece of media.