The right way to tell a story has always been subjective. Perhaps you prefer the way movies tell a story, bringing you along as a spectator, or a book where you create the world and its characters using your imagination or in fact gaming where I don’t believe there is a defined way of telling a story as there are so many ways to tell one. Although there is one constant, and that is the interaction you have with the story and your effect on it whoever limited or choice driven the narrative may be.
For example you have a choice of how the story plays out to a point in Alpha Protocol, you choose how your character develops and how he interacts with his colleagues, whether that be aggressive, suave etc, a linear example of story telling would be the Uncharted series, now remember being linear isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the story and pacing of the Uncharted games is brilliant, it holds you by the hand story wise because it has a story to tell you rather than you making a story for yourself like in the Elder scrolls games.
Now after that lengthy introduction that brings me on to Spec Ops: The Line which I consider to have one of the best stories of any games I have ever played. Initially however it lulls you into thinking its one of those standard cookie cutter 3rd person “Tactical Shooters” that any studio can produce in their sleep. Although this game is tactical by name only because this is as bare bones “tactical” as you can get, such as attack this dude, stun this dude and go there and form up on me, that’s about it. Not to say this is a bad thing because with a story like this you don’t really want to be hampered by complex controls that other shooters may have such as Ghost Recon. Plus with any tactical shooter that ive ever played ive always used my teammates to the bare accepted minimum, because if I have the time to target guys for my team to shoot, then why don’t I just shoot him instead?
The combat is functional though, it has a nice weighty feel to it and most importantly is fun to play, ammunition is a bit scarce as hey, you’re in a city that’s been devastated by huge sandstorms so there isn’t going to be any handy ammo dumps or kits to spare. There is enough to get by, but your going to have to swap out weapons every so often to be any use.
That’s the mechanics pretty much sorted because this game is more about the experience and the ride it gives you rather than how well you can shoot enemy soldiers in the face ala Call of Duty. The basic premise of the game is that we’re a part of a 3 man Delta Force team sent in to a sandstorm ravaged Dubai (We’re talking apocalyptic scale of sandstorm.) to find potential survivors, civilian or military. The possible military survivors would be remnants of the 33rd battalion who volunteered to go into Dubai pre sand storm and aid in evacuation, they were ordered to leave but they refused by way of the colonel called Conrad. Conrad is also idolised by the man who is leading the 3 man team (who is the character we control) called Captain Walker and is accompanied by a sniper called Lugo and a Heavy Gunner called Adams.
These guys have good chemistry together, cracking dark banter and orders in a natural and believable way. A pleasant surprise for me however was finding out that Captain Walker is voiced by Nolan North of Uncharted fame, and it does feel a little odd hearing Nathan Drake’s voice on an entirely new character but you do get used to it and soon don’t even think about the connection as the story develops.
I’m going to try to avoid any obvious spoilers as the best part of this game is experiencing it from a clean slate perspective, and I wouldn’t dream of robbing anyone of that.
The way this story gets told is through Captain Walker, take it as you are essentially, him. Whatever happens during the story its on you because you’re the one that makes the choices, and that is a great way to bridge that disconnect that some people may feel when playing any game, especially in a linear type game such as this. It is absorbing to the point that you feel responsible for what you do, and what happens to the people around you, and from my experience only a few games have been able to pull that off with any success.
Also, believe me when i say the twists and turns will keep you guessing, and to a certain extent keep you second guessing yourself, but that’s all ill say about that as i think im skirting on spoiler territory. And also as a warning this game is very very dark, as in gruesome, disturbing themes, so definitely not suitable for kids or the billions of teen kids that play CoD.
There is a co-op mode and multiplayer but the real treat is the campaign and id advise you to play it through on your own before thinking about its multiplayer modes. In a way it didn’t need a multiplayer but you can see where the developers are coming from, it’s giving you some extra features and stuff to do whenever you beat the campaign. As the campaign is roughly 8 hours long, but that to me was a perfect length as its paced so well it doesn’t drag out endlessly or burn out like a tiny fuse.
So I thoroughly recommend this game, especially now its at a reduced price as well which means you have all the more reason to buy it ;). It is out on the Xbox live games on demand service for £20 or whatever the equivalent is for where you are, and that is a more than fair price for such a great game.
Oh and little side note i forgot to mention earlier was that the soundtrack is awesome, rather than say distracted or stealing the thunder away from whats happening it enhances it and really puts you in the right mood.
Thanks for reading hope you enjoyed it