RETRO – What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word Dubai? Luxury villas? Magnificent hotels? Expensive yachts? Unbelievable wealth, and shopping tourism? Well, forget all these! In this German tactical action game, the once famous Arab city became a hellhole.
There is not a more frightening situation, when the charismatic leader goes AWOL during a bloody war, and starts massacring people – it’s just enough to think about Apocalypse Now’s Colonel Kurtz. That is what happened to Colonel Konrad in Spec Ops: The Line’s anti-hero who after was ordered to create piece in Dubai in the midst of rebellions and sandstorms. However for some reason Konrad goes crazy, just like in Francis Ford Coppola’s famous movie, who started massacring the population one by one, while considered himself a god.
Of course, we will need a hero again now: a young captain that is sent after Konrad to find him and „save him”. This brave hero (or unfortunate soul who does not even know what waits for him) is : Captain Walker, a member of Delta Force. Walker is none other than the one being controlled by the dear player.
“What do you want to do now Captain? After seeing all the things I have done?”
These are the calm words of Colonel Konrad who welcomes Walker on the radio when he arrives to Dubai. „You would think that I am a monster, that I have gone insane. Come captain, we’re waiting for you”. these are the words that Konrad gives to Walker at the beginning, giving a rather grim outlook for our characters for Yager’s newest Tactical third person shooter game.
The German development team did everything to make their product stand out, and to be not just the run of the mill action game: „Our goal was to make Spec Ops the most provocative shooter you ever played” – was the comment from Lead game designed Cory Davis.
It is for sure that the game’s story is different compared to the „evil terrorist organization that threatens the world, and only the rave American commandos can save.. blah blah” rescue clichés that are filled with in Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon, Splinter Cell etc. Konrad was sent to protect the population in Dubai, but the soldier went crazy, and considers the city his own home, while his men follow his command to the death.
Do the soldiers at Delta Force have it good?
In the game, we mostly battle against Konrad’s mad men, while we lead a team of four against them. The gameplay is reminiscent of Gears of War: we can issue orders on who to attack and how, should they take cover or rush the enemy down.
We can also issue more complex commands such as: flank the enemy, or provide suppressing fire. The firing and defense mechanism, we can get behind cover, and fire in a focused or inaccurate way. Those who do not wish to mess around with such tactics or think about how to approach an encounter can just go in guns blazing, as our teammates are Delta Force so they know what to do.
It is an entirely different thing if the AI, however, is not that good. The long gunfights can become boring, which is alleviated by some of the scripted events that happen in the game. In one firefight, for example, a grenade blows the flow up, and our heroes fall to the hall of a once luxurious hotel that is covered by the sandstorm.
In this level we can see how the Unreal 3 engine is still one of the best engines. Although the hotel is entirely ruined due to the conditions, but due to the light / shadow effects, and the mirrored effects we can see that it was once a magnificent building. Of course we cannot marvel at the building for too long, as Konrad’s men are throwing C4s all over the place, and at that point we fall down even further into the hotel.
The sand can kill – even the innocent…
In the game we can find the usual killing machines: M16, AA-12 gun, and the creators have promised to have authentic weapon behavior in the title. I can hear already as you read these lines: „Big whoop we already heard these before”. However what’s your opinion on the revolutionary idea that requires a sandstorm to kill our enemies.
As when we fight outside of the buildings and Konrad’s men inside, we can shoot the windows so that the sandstorm enters the building, and they suffocate due to the large amounts of sand. Great idea right? One problem is that Konrad keeps civilians captive, and died due to our tricks.
So we have to make a few moral choices, and we meet a few of them in the game. We could have not shot out the windows, save the civilians and with this the story would have taken a different route. Basically it does not show the American military in a black and white way unlike most recent shooters portrayed them.
Another interesting question is how Yager handles the morality within the story. As we make the more painful decision, Konrad will one up it all the time: for instance in one scene there are bodies hung on the bridge.
Just walk into hell Walker
It is apparent that Yager is trying to grab the player and the press with its atmosphere and locations, and not just simply with its hyper-realistic gameplay and graphics, or the overkill with gore. While most tactical action game’s story is boring, the developers did something
+ The story looks interesting
+ The Gears of War’s combat system is great
+ The morale choices is the cherry on the top
– Feels like Gears of War too much at times
– Outdated graphics engine
– Some of the properties do not make sense
Publisher: 2K Games
Genres: Tactical action
Release date: 2012