After reading Tom Bissell’s magnificent take on Spec Ops: The Line (developed by the Germany-based Yager Development for 2K Games), I felt like I had to give the game a try, despite my inability to enjoy nearly any military-based shooter. Here’s the line that got me: “[Yager] described how they wanted to create an experience that drove home how complicated modern combat scenarios can be. They promised genuinely awful and truly dreadful moments. Death, they said, would have some weight in this game.”
I finally got my hands on the game via GameFly maybe two weeks ago. Of course, due to that aforementioned inability to enjoy shooters, I didn’t finish it; I played about four chapters. But I think I kind of liked it. And, at one point, I understood what Yager meant by “awful,” “truly dreadful moments.”
At some point in the campaign’s third or fourth chapter, you run across members of the U.S. Army’s 33rd Battalion, a unit sent to Dubai to assist in relief efforts after a massive sandstorm devastates the city. But the 33rd’s relief attempts didn’t go very well. After suffering through sandstorms with 80 mile-per-hour winds while trying to maintain order under martial law, the 33rd tried to lead a caravan of one thousand civilians out of Dubai. The caravan never made it. The Line’s main character and his two squad mates are sent to Dubai to confirm the 33rd’s status.
So, naturally, running into members of the 33rd — who are well enough to run around, speak and perform in combat — should be somewhat of a happy moment for the player. That is, of course, until the 33rd’s soldiers start shooting at your squad. And here was one of those truly dreadful moments.
I didn’t want to shoot at these soldiers. There I was with my squad mates, crouched behind a waist-high wall, hoping something or someone would stop these 33rd soliders from shooting at me. “We’re on your side, buddy! We came here to make sure you guys were alive! Stop it! Ow, those bullets hurt! Really, don’t make me shoot you!”
I had to shoot them. And it kind of hurt. Here was a combat scenario I was not expecting: having to engage in a bullet exchange with fellow soldiers, the same ones I’ve been sent to check up on.
That initial hesitation to shoot at those soldiers — that hope that they’d realize who they were shooting at and stop — was something I’m confident no other shooter has made me feel. And once I took those 33rd soldiers down, one thought permeated my mind: Why?
Why did they shoot at me? Why didn’t they realize we were Delta Squad? U.S. Military? That we were on their side?
Unfortunately, Spec Ops: The Line played like too much of a Gears of War clone minus the interesting and varied weaponry and refined controls, so I didn’t play through the rest of the title to answer those questions.
But, shooter fans: If you want to feel something a little different in your shooter, I suggest giving Spec Ops: The Line a shot.
Side Note: It was really weird to hear Nathan Drake’s voice coming out of The Line’s main character’s mouth.
I’ve been meaning to make a better effort at documenting my thoughts for quite some time. After starting two different Wordpress blogs, an old Blogger one and, of course, this Tumblr, I think I might finally be getting around to doing it. See, I’m supposed to kind of be a writer.
I’m a print journalism grad from Florida International University, though, like many who add that same bullet point on their résumés, I don’t really work in the field (anymore). Since graduation, I’ve interned at the Miami Herald and freelanced some video game-related writings (and done some pro bono stuff too) for a few websites. Mostly, my time’s been spent working as a consultant to a state department, providing public information assistance. The word “specialist” is in my title, and some people think that’s cool. I don’t. I don’t like what I do anymore, and I’m not sure I ever did. But as a newlywed with expensive hobbies (dining, traveling, video games), the world kind of forced my hand into taking this “specialist” job because the pay isn’t too shabby; but, at times, the job makes me feel like a pre-hypnotized Peter Gibbons.
Change is incoming, though. A few months ago, I decided to pursue a childhood dream of mine. I was tired of waking up every morning and dreading the next 10 or so hours of my life. Tired of spacing out at my desk, wondering what it felt like to use a bit of brain power every now and then. So I’m going back to school.
If all goes as planned, I’ll start a Game Design Masters of Science degree program at Full Sail University this November. And if that goes as planned, I’ll eventually work in the industry I’ve loved since I was a tween. I’m kind of excited. But more nervous and maybe terrified. Thankfully, I’ve got the full support of my beautiful wife and an unwavering apathy toward all the money I’ll owe the banks of America at the end of it all to help keep me on this path.
The plan is to use this Tumblr as somewhere I can drop thoughts about what I’ll learn while at Full Sail, as well as the games I play, stuff I read and food I eat. Enjoy the ride, I guess. (TWSS)