Friday, July 06, 2012

Games on the AVE: Gamespot Reviews Spec Ops: The Line

Also available on PS3

Spec Ops: The Line is a game rife with contrast. In the sandstorm-wracked city of Dubai, refugees huddle in crude shanties erected in the opulent atriums of luxury hotels, and soldiers construct rough outposts in swanky rooftop clubs. On these makeshift battlefields, most of your time is spent casually gunning down hundreds of enemy combatants, but your squadmates still argue passionately over the value of one anonymous virtual life. Mechanically, Spec Ops is an utterly commonplace third-person shooter, but narratively, it strives to raise philosophical questions and put you outside of your comfort zone. These contrasts create some intriguing moments, but they are too often muddled by mediocre execution. The environmental design is one of the highlights. A fierce sandstorm has left Dubai with an entirely new geography, one defined by sliding dunes and sandy canyons. Trapped by the swirling debris, the citizens are forced to create makeshift shelters amid the towering skyscrapers, carving out settlements in the luxurious wreckage. Walk just past the glittering peacock statues and extravagant mosaics to find rickety cots, shabby walls, and dirty sheets.

A battalion of American soldiers have taken up residence here too, following their failed evacuation attempt, and their military outposts add an ominous air of conflict to the landscape. The artifacts of the aborted exodus tell a story too; cars are abandoned, belongings have been left behind in a hurry, and desperate pleas for help adorn the walls.
These striking scenes are punctuated by the politically charged graffiti that some stranded artist has created around the city, anonymous accusations that target the suffering of the people (smiling images of hotel guests with their eyes hollowed out) and those who helped exacerbate an already bad situation (a skeletal news anchor holding a smiling yellow puppet). The disparate architectural and artistic threads intertwine to create a fascinating landscape, one that is a pleasure to explore despite the merely decent production values.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed playing the game last night over at a co-worker and friend’s house from Dish, and wanted to take it home but sadly I couldn’t because he still wanted to play. I did have to add it to my Blockbuster@Home game queue. Blockbuster is how I rent all my games because buying games new just breaks my wallet. The good thing about Blockbuster is that right now you can even try it out for free. It’ll be in my mailbox soon and I can’t wait to start playing it myself in the comfort of my own home. My favorite part was that even when you know you've made a terrible mistake, you have no choice but to move forward in hopes that the end justifies the means.


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