Spec Ops: The Line First Impressions

We travelled to Berlin for a first look at developer Yager's dark third-person shooter.

by

An American flag hangs tattered and torn in the sand dunes of Dubai. The city is now a shadow of its former self, beaten into the ground by relentless sandstorms. A booming voice asks, "Do you still intend to rescue me captain, now that you have seen what I have done?" As the sun rises in the sky, the voice calmly declares, "You must think I'm a monster, that I've gone insane. Come find us captain; we're waiting." This is the auspicious opening to Spec Ops: The Line, and it sets a dark tone for the game. "We intend to make The Line the most provocative shooter you've ever played," proclaimed lead designer Cory Davis on our recent visit to developer Yager's studios in Berlin. Can Spec Ops deliver on such a bold statement? Our first look suggests that Yager is well on its way to creating something just a bit different.

Spec Ops: The Line is a third-person shooter that tells the story of Captain Walker, the leader of an elite military outfit known as Delta Force. Walker is sent to the heart of the once-wealthy Dubai, which has been ravaged by vicious sandstorms, leaving the city in ruins. Your mission is to rescue the well-respected Army Colonel John Konrad, whose squad is declared MIA after staying in Dubai to aid civilians that could not escape the sandstorms. The twist to the tale comes from Konrad himself, who is a take on Colonel Kurtz from the film Apocalypse Now. Far from needing to be rescued, Walker discovers Konrad has gone insane from his time in the ruined city, which he now declares his home.

We were able to watch a short live demo of Spec Ops in action, which showed off a mission that took place one-third of the way through the game. The voice we heard at the beginning was that of Konrad, who was taunting Walker to come find him. Just after Konrad finished his speech, Walker and his squad were ambushed by a group of soldiers while scouting the desert. A rock soundtrack started playing to signal the start of battle--an interesting change from the usual orchestral fare that has scored many recent shooters. Taking cover behind a piece of concrete, Walker started blind firing at enemies and popping his head over the concrete to target them. However, his shooting was short lived because a rocket-propelled grenade missile destroyed the ground he was standing on, causing him to fall through the ground and into a concealed hotel lobby below.

Once indoors, we were treated to some great-looking interior environments, showcasing the modified Unreal engine that powers the game. Though everything had been destroyed, the lighting and reflection effects made it clear that the hotel was once a high-class establishment. We were unable to admire the scenery for too long, though, because Walker was ambushed again. This time, soldiers appeared from above, dropping in C4 charges before abseiling down to attack him. In addition to using cover, Walker commanded his squad. He was able to tell them to flank the enemies, hold back, and cover him in battle. We also caught a glimpse of a few weapons, including such shooter staples as the M16 rifle and the AA-12 auto shotgun, which laid waste to a group of enemies in seconds.

Spec Ops: The Line takes place in a sandstorm-ravaged Dubai.

Our demo showed several of these battles taking place as Walker made his way through Dubai. One of these battles showed us how sand was used to kill enemies and change the environment. Walker entered a large room full of soldiers, as well as several civilians, and just above the soldiers was a set of large glass windows covered by sand. Walker was able to shoot out the glass windows, causing the sand to pile into the room. This killed the soldiers, but it was at the expense of civilian lives. We were told that it was possible to kill the soldiers without shooting out the glass, thus saving the civilians. Lead designer Cory Davis explained that there will be many situations in the game where the player has to make decisions between "what is morally justified" and the mission. It seems as though game is intending to delve into the gray area of morals, rather than the simple black and white of good versus evil.

On as dark a note as the mission began, it ended with Walker discovering a torched corpse dangling from some gallows, as the insane Konrad taunted him again. The inspirations from Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness, the book upon which the movie is based, were clearly present in our short demo. It will be interesting to see where Yager takes the story and just how deep the moral implications of the game go. We'll have to wait for a full hands-on to see how well the cover system and squad commands work, which are integral to the gameplay. Keep your eyes on GameSpot for more on Spec Ops: The Line in the lead-up to its release.

Discussion

196 comments
godofwar1229
godofwar1229

I think this game is gonna be awesome and I love the idea of bringing the morality choices into it because sometimes that's how it happens you have to make tough choices.

Facilitypro
Facilitypro

I want a game where I can bury Greg Kasavin in sand.

L0rD_ShAde
L0rD_ShAde

I don't think the U.A.E government is gonna like this game......

Becto
Becto

Eagerly awaiting this game, lets hope it doesn't go the way of Kane and Lynch

KemMotaRD
KemMotaRD

I think that there should be no worries about this game, this game is going to be very good.And I say this because the producer of the game is Greg Kasavin, the man who reviewed games so many years, so I'm sure that he will pay attention to all the details that make one game awesome. I think that we all know his reviews and how they are unprejudiced. Regarding the story as someone said here, I think the story will be good, because the producer is the one that likes good story in the game, as I recall.

2795alex
2795alex

hooah........ the more DESTRUCTION, the better the game gets!

gol3tron
gol3tron

i dont get it. who are they fighting? people living in dubai? WTF

AIRWALKTDK666
AIRWALKTDK666

looks great, bit worried about the A.I. tho, while they r shown to use flanking moves, they didnt seem to use cover a lot.

nevershoutnevea
nevershoutnevea

even im not into wars games but i may buy this cos it looks damn great :D

xboxkane
xboxkane

god damnnn..get someone that can actually add two words together.. ''ummm its umm'' thanks for the headache. the game looks like fun tho.

DatWasEasy
DatWasEasy

How you can duck into and out of cover like that is amazing.

Mos-Kri
Mos-Kri

Meh... Nothing we haven't seen before. I realy don't like that you can see the path of the bullet when you're shooting. Btw i liked the old specops games on the ps1, hope this won't dissapoint!

vgameaddict777
vgameaddict777

looks like a fun game, shooting system reminds me of gears of war O.o

Tevez-32
Tevez-32

i will get this game it looks exciting and dubai is a great setting

leaf21nut
leaf21nut

Yeah, id deffinatly guy this game.. amazing graphics of the little that weve seen so far, i love hoe its not FPS, there should b more games inthe 3rd person... This is deffinatly going on my watch list for 2010!!!

pidow
pidow

This game should make it.....it is different as to location, circumstances for the game development. I hope its exceeds expectations and is one that we all can appreciate.

HardCore_PC_Gmr
HardCore_PC_Gmr

----- I hope it also supports first person view. -----

etchcorp
etchcorp

the game may be good, but the story smells pathetic, like a low budget hollywood movie... I hope the game will be worh to play

UnreaLuigi
UnreaLuigi

looks gud.. hopefully they get this right and it doesnt just end up bein a gears knockoff in dubai

Aryonas
Aryonas

This don't seem like it will be a revolution, but could be a fun shooter. Looking forward to seeing how this unfolds.

aaronobst
aaronobst

Good old Greg K... those were the days gamespot... those were the days...

Fz1994
Fz1994

in Dubai?/ lol I live there...

KillerWabbit23
KillerWabbit23

Work on the difficulty, and I might consider buying this... it looks cool.

GHOSTQ8
GHOSTQ8

Hmm the game seems interesting..but...if it were an exclusive for any of the consoles it will turn out great...couse most games that are shared ...becomes good on one console and fails in the other...

Oxy80
Oxy80

@SocomElite22 I know them fanboys are pathetic just play the game and stop gettin ur dick caught in a blender about which system is better its all gaming

SocomElite22
SocomElite22

@Oxy80 Your Funny!........Xbox Fanboy's are just HOPING for it to be an exclusive!

Oxy80
Oxy80

Why are people saying this is only on 360 n PC? this preview is also in the PS3 previews and i seen it on IGN as PS3 360 n PC. I could be wrong but i do think its on all systems. Wii isnt a system its a tragedy

Cabaji_Ec
Cabaji_Ec

another shooter...xbox really needs a mouse and a keyboard....and another i can SEE THE BULLETS!! AND THEIR TRAYECTORY...IM HALF NEO!!! its not the spoon that is bending.!!!

gogoplexiorayo
gogoplexiorayo

good old greg!!! ill never forget his myst 5 end of ages review:)

Tidus655
Tidus655

he seems to be quite nervous

dorukster
dorukster

greg should have continued working as an editor in gamespot.this game looks terrible

pidow
pidow

Sounds great...I need to play this game.

lfe19
lfe19

sounds nice! i'll try it, i guess

swamplord666
swamplord666

GREEEEG! Happy to see he's still developing :) EDIT: wow. looking at the comments i'm surprised at how little greg was recognized :(

max_24
max_24

i think its not bad!!!! or maybe another virtual HERO !!!?????

FireAnt1980
FireAnt1980

Man this looks like it could be a good one. Always wanted a GeOW type Military 3rd Person Shooter of good quality

Duke_51
Duke_51

@ jstanfield You know, that Greg guy used to be an editor here at Gamespot. Weird huh?

wavelength121
wavelength121

Dubai, the shining beacon of human decadence and egotism.

XxTerryH15xX
XxTerryH15xX

game looks nice bet itll be pretty good ill have my eye on this one

it009x9281
it009x9281

LT-murphy@ I was just going say the same thing