- "There is a thin red line between hope and darkness."
- — Tag Line
Spec Ops: The Line is a third-person shooter video game developed by Yager Development and published by 2K Games. It is the eighth installment of the classic series. Spec Ops: The Line was released on June 26, 2012 in North America and on June 29, 2012 in Europe. The Line is the continuation of the Spec Ops series, although it does not share any story elements with its namesake. Instead, the game follows Captain Martin Walker as he is sent into a post-catastrophe Dubai with an elite Delta Force team on a reconnaissance mission, where they find dead American Soldiers. Upon the finding, Walker declares that the team's mission has changed, and that they will search Dubai for survivors.
While lead writer Walt Williams has stated that there are many influences, the premise is primarily inspired by Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness (along with Francis Ford Coppola's Vietnam-set adaptation of the novella, Apocalypse Now), with Konrad replacing Kurtz. The game was generally well received by critics, with multiple critics criticizing the lackluster multiplayer and shooting, and some praising its dark and engrossing narrative, as well as its similarly dark themes.
Spec Ops: The Line is primarily a third-person shooter with emphasis on cover-based shooting. In the single-player campaign, the player controls Captain Martin Walker, who is accompanied by a Delta Force team to locate a deserted United States Army colonel John Konrad and other survivors from the ruins of post-cataclysm Dubai for subsequent extraction. To accomplish this goal, the player must traverse the city to neutralize enemy threats and natural disasters. As the player progresses, better weapons and equipment become available to accomplish goals more easily. Squad commands are also available, which allow the player to direct their teammates to perform certain actions during battle.
Unlike traditional shooters, where most of the game takes place on one horizontal plane, Spec Ops: The Line features much more vertical movement. Ziplines and rappels allow for players to move up or down as well as jumping and climbing. Enemies attack from all sides, so players will need to be on their toes when playing.
The game's campaign mode features 18 levels. Scattered among the levels are morality sections. Unlike previous games such as Mass Effect or inFAMOUS, the morality sections are not game-pausing choices on a menu. They flow naturally, allowing for (and forcing) the player to make split-second decisions.
A multiplayer mode is included as well. Yager describes the multiplayer as a campaign that expands the single-player experience. In addition, there are multiple mode types with at least a few focusing on terrain deformation and expansion. The gameplay also focuses on the natural sand storms of Dubai to provide dynamic terrain changing during gameplay, similar to Fracture and the Red Faction series. This is supported by an unpredictable engine that randomizes when and where sand storms will arise, as well as how harsh they will be. Sand storms make it much harder to see as well as having the players' aim become less steady. This can be used tactically to set up ambushes or escape someone who is on a player's tail.
Six months prior to the game, the worst series of dust storms in recorded history began across Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Dubai's politicians and wealthy elite downplayed the situation before evacuating in secret, leaving countless Emiratis behind. Colonel John Konrad, the decorated but PTSD-troubled commander of “The Damned” 33rd Battalion, United States Army, was returning home with his unit from Afghanistan when the storms struck. Konrad volunteered the 33rd Battalion to help the relief efforts, then deserted with the entire unit when ordered to abandon the city and its refugees by the United States government. As the storms intensified, a massive storm wall engulfed Dubai for miles, disrupting any satellite surveillance and communication, air travel, and all but the strongest radio broadcasts. The 33rd declared martial law, and struggled to maintain order amid 80 mph winds, riots, and dwindling resources. The last communication out of Dubai stated that the 33rd was attempting to lead a caravan of more than a thousand civilians out of the city. The caravan never arrived, and soon afterwards the UAE declared Dubai a no man's land. All travel to the city was barred, the 33rd was publicly disavowed for treason, and no further news left the city.
Two weeks before the beginning of the game, a mysterious looped radio signal penetrated the wall. Its message was brief; “This is Colonel John Konrad, United States Army. Attempted evacuation of Dubai ended in complete failure. Death toll: too many.” The United States military decides to covertly send in a three-man Delta Force team to carry out reconnaissance. The team, consisting of Delta operators Captain Walker, Lieutenant Adams, and Sergeant Lugo, are told to confirm the status of Konrad and any survivors, then radio for extraction.
Delta Operatives Walker, Adams and Lugo traverse the storm wall through to the outskirts of a mostly-buried Dubai on foot. They later come into contact with a group of armed survivors, referred to as Insurgents. The Insurgents have apparently renewed conflict with what remains of "The Damned" 33rd, and have captured a squad of 33rd soldiers and take them to a former hotel called "The Nest". Throughout the rest of their journey, the team hears broadcasts on homemade speaker by the Radioman, a former journalist turned DJ that was once embedded with the 33rd in Afghanistan and now speaks on their behalf.
As the journey progresses, the team finds evidence of what had happened in Dubai over the preceding months. From what they can tell, an unstable Konrad and the 33rd Battalion returned to Dubai as an occupying force after his evacuation failed, apparently to rule over the remaining survivors. Soon, increasingly harsh atrocities against civilians were committed to intimidate the population. Elements of the 33rd staged a coup d’etat against Konrad in protest, forming the Exiles. The CIA has been organizing the Insurgents to attack both Konrad’s loyalist 33rd and the Exiles as a distraction while Grey Fox tried to eliminate the evidence of Konrad's actions within the city. Barbaric acts of immolation, torture and execution by death squads are common on all sides throughout the city. Although there is now clear evidence against Konrad's virtue, Colonel Konrad once saved Captain Walker's life in Kabul during the war. This makes Walker biased in favor of Konrad.
The team comes across the Nest’s refugees being rounded up by a platoon of loyalist 33rd. They attempt to intervene peacefully, but the soldiers mistake them for CIA operatives and begin a firefight. The 33rd takes heavy casualties and retreats with a number of civilian prisoners. Disturbed at their killing of fellow Americans, Lugo and Adams repeatedly urge Walker to leave Dubai and contact command. Walker insists on investigating further in hopes of evacuating survivors and finding Konrad.
The team learns of another CIA agent, Daniels, has been captured by the 33rd. His interrogation is blasted by the Radioman across a traceable signal to lure in other agents, prompting Delta to head towards the site as well. There, they find the mutilated and long-dead body of Daniels and are ambushed by soldiers. There is no possibility of escape until a band of Insurgents led by Agent Gould arrive and break the ambush, allowing Walker to escape. But not long after, Gould is captured and his men are killed. The player can choose to save Gould or save a couple of civilians near Gould position. No matter what action the player choose, Gould is killed, but an operations plan found on his body directs Captain Walker to the Gate, a 33rd base.
Walker and his men arrive at the Gate, only to find a full company of 33rd soldiers guarding the entrance. An abandoned 33rd mortar loaded with white phosphorus is found nearby. Lugo objects to using the mortar, as the team has seen its grisly effects on the 33rd’s previous victims, but Adams and Walker overrule Lugo and fire the mortar. The phosphorus strike completely obliterates the company.
A mortally injured soldier that the team finds within the blast zone questions the slaughter, stating the 33rd only wanted to help. To the team’s realization, the 33rd had taken the civilians from the Nest to the Gate only for their own safety in the coming battles. 47 charred corpses, many of them women and children, are found in a fenced off section of the entrance. Walker shows no outward remorse, and pushes the others on despite their obvious anger and trauma.
Shortly after, Colonel Konrad begins communicating with Walker over a radio they find inside the Gate. He taunts Walker over his inner doubts and fears as tensions rise between the team, making Walker adjust his belief that Konrad is innocent. Soon, Walker comes across two men tied to a bridge, with snipers positioned on all sides. Konrad tells Walker that the two men are criminals, and orders Walker to pick one to execute. Walker can shoot either at a criminal or Konrad’s snipers above. Both are done to the surprise of Lugo and Adams, who question Walker’s mental condition as he urges them towards Konrad's most likely vantage point, the tallest tower in Dubai.
Along the way, Delta finds Agent Riggs leading a raid on the Dubai Underwater Aquatic Coliseum, the city's last main water supply. Riggs tells Delta that Insurgent control of the water will cripple the 33rd's operations in Dubai and bring peace, but only if they aid him. When the water trucks the group seize fail to break free of the 33rd's defenses, Riggs intentionally crashes them. After recovering, Walker comes across a mortally wounded Riggs, who revealed that he wanted to destroy the water supply no matter the cost by manipulating the Insurgents. Knowledge of what the 33rd did in Dubai would cause the whole region to declare war on the United States in retaliation, a war which America would lose. Though a costly war has now been averted, the entire city will begin dying of dehydration within four days thanks to Walker's actions. The player can choose to kill Riggs or let him be burned alive.
After reuniting with Adams and Lugo, Delta heads to the Trans-Emirates Building to silence the Radioman and warn the city. As the journey progressed, all three men gradually become edgier and more violent. Walker begins suffering from vivid hallucinations as they fight to the top of the building. Delta finds the Radioman, who is calm and surrenders peacefully. Lugo and the Radioman set up the signal for Walker, then Lugo shoots the Radioman repeatedly before the other two can intervene. Adams commandeers a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter for Delta; en route, the are engaged by the 33rd's AH-6 Little Birds while Walker feels a sense of deja vu. A confused Delta team is then shot down en route to Konrad's hideout.
Konrad appears to a disoriented Walker, chastising him about his failures and weakness. Walker and Adams regroup at the crash site, but must fight their way to Lugo's position behind enemy lines. When they arrive, they find Lugo lynched by a mob of citizens, angered at the Americans' destruction of the water supply. When attempts to resuscitate Lugo fail, Walker and Adams then disperse the crowd. On this point the player can choose to kill the civilians that lynched Lugo or just give a warning for them to get away. After that, they assault Konrad's headquarters. Walker's hallucinations are nearly constant at this point. The two are soon surrounded by the last remnants of Konrad's men. Walker attempts to surrender to gain access inside, but an enraged Adams insists on fighting to the death and shames Walker into running for safety inside the tower.
At this point in the game, the truth about Colonel Konrad and the events in Dubai is revealed. Weary, grieving, and on the brink of death, Walker stumbles to the entrance of the tower. Upon entering, Walker is saluted by the remnants of the 33rd, who surrender to him. Walker demands to know where Konrad is, and is directed to Konrad's penthouse. Walker arrives at the penthouse of the tower without incident and confronts Konrad. At first, Colonel Konrad appears to be the paranoid, charismatic force behind the atrocities Walker was hoping for, until Walker finds his decaying corpse on the penthouse deck. Captain Walker has been suffering from a dissociative disorder to rationalize the actions he (and the player) has witnessed and carried out. The real Colonel Konrad committed suicide an unknown amount of time after the broadcast that brought Delta to the city. The Colonel that Walker has been in contact with during the game is actually a traumatic hallucination that none of his team witnessed, existing only within his subconsciousness. This mental projection of Konrad appears to Walker, explaining that Walker knew he had the chance of stopping, but pushed ahead out of a desire to be a hero (which Konrad says he wasn't). To maintain his 'sanity' after the white phosphorus strike, many subsequent events in the game were distorted by Walker's mind to make Konrad a moral scapegoat. Had Delta immediately left Dubai at the beginning of the game, each subsequent event may have turned out for the better. With his fantasy coming to an end now that the truth is directly in front of him, 'Konrad' points a gun at Walker’s head and begins counting to five.
There are four endings to The Line, but six different actions possible.
Walker can either allow the Konrad projection to shoot him, rationalizing that it is an illusion, shoot his own reflection, or shoot the projection with his pistol.
Allowing Konrad to pull the trigger or shooting Walker's reflection will cause Walker in reality to commit suicide. His dead body is shown settled against Konrad's, while Konrad's original broadcast plays as the camera pans over the burning remnants of Dubai.
Shooting Konrad's reflection will end with "Konrad" dying and telling Walker that he can still go home. The 33rd Zulu Squad soldier from downstairs comes up asking Walker what to do. Walker turns around to find that both the soldier and Konrad's body have disappeared. Walker then uses Konrad's radio to request an immediate evacuation of Dubai.
An epilogue after the credits roll shows a convoy of Army rescue Humvees locating Walker, who is sitting alone in the desert wearing Konrad’s uniform and brandishing an AA-12. The player is given the option to drop the weapon or fight. Attacking them will result in a difficult firefight.
If the player commits suicide, the following options are not available.
If Walker kills the entire patrol, he will radio U.S. command and welcome them to Dubai over the now clear airwaves. Walker then heads back into the remains of Dubai as the camera pans to a wide shot of the ruined city.
Dying during the attack will cut to a shot of Walker lying in a pool of blood, remembering a conversation between himself and Konrad during the war, before the fighting in Kabul worsened. As his dying body is being watched by the patrol, Walker remembers casually remarking about returning home. Konrad had replied that there was no way men like them could.
If the player chooses not to fight, the patrol will evacuate with Walker. A soldier remarks that the unit has driven through the whole city looking for Walker, often coming across the results of the player's actions. When questioned how he survived, Walker replies; "Who said I did?" The player can select the key to lay down the weapon, but doing nothing will also result in this option.
Significance of "The Line"
- "We can’t go home. There’s a line men like us have to cross. If we’re lucky, we do what’s necessary, and then we die."
- — John Konrad
Many of the secondary abilities on weapons (scopes, fire modes, grenade launchers, etc.) are not available in multiplayer. The SCAR-H has doesn't have a MK. 13, the AK-47 stays in full automatic mode, and the 417 battle rifle has no scope.
Light Machine Guns
Heavy Machine Guns
- Deep Purple - Hush
- Alice in Chains - Rooster
- Bjork - Storm
- Mogwai - Glasgow Mega-Snake
- Mogwai - R U Still In 2 It
- Giuseppe Verdi - Dies Irae, Libera me
- Nine Inch Nails - The day the world went away
- Martha and the Vandellas - Nowhere to run
- Black Mountain - Stormy High
- The Black Angels - Bad Vibrations
- Jimi Hendrix - A Merman I Should Turn To Be
- The Black Angels - The First Vietnamese War
- Jimi Hendrix - Star spangled banner
- Inner Circle - Bad boys
IntelIn Spec Ops: The Line, intel documents can be found in most chapters of the single-player campaign. When retrieved they may reveal backstory about what happened to Dubai before and during the first sandstorms, or Walker's opinions.
Following the release of several Spec Ops games in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the series was met with low sales and poor reviews, causing a halt on any production in successive games. In 2003, Take-Two mentioned in their financial results that Rockstar Games was working on the franchise but in early 2005 the project was canceled for unknown reasons. It was later revealed that Rockstar Vancouver was the developer of the canned project, with singer Josh Homme developing the soundtrack for the game.
From 2005 to 2009, the series remained largely unmentioned with the rights belonging to Take-Two Interactive. Then, on December 12, 2009, a ninth game in the series was announced and titled Spec Ops: The Line. A trailer was accompanied that depicted several minutes of gameplay and showed off the new setting. This trailer confirmed the title as well as several game features including the third-person perspective, the dynamic terrain elements, as well as the setting. A subsequent press release detailed the premise, other game features, and a possible 2011 release date. An official site was soon launched.
A closed multiplayer beta was released exclusively on the Xbox 360. It has since ended.
A demo was released for free on the PlayStation Store and Xbox Live Marketplace on May 9, 2012. It released on Steam on June 12th, 2012.
Spec Ops: The Line gained controversy for the scene of the dead mother and child. The scene was called "Obscene", "Distasteful", and "Disturbing", even comparing it to the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 level "No Russian". The game developers responded by saying that was exactly the reaction they intended and that apparently the scene caused several game testers leave the room and take a "break".
- The song playing on the game's main menu is the national anthem of the United States played by Jimi Hendrix.
- Two songs by the psychedelic rock band The Black Angels appear in the game; "Bad Vibrations" when fighting in the 33rd's civilian camp, and "First Vietnamese War" when you first fight a bayonet runner.
- The white phosphorous scene won the game a spot in Game Informer's "Top 10 Moments" of 2012 video gaming.
- Spec Ops: The Line was banned in the United Arab Emirates for its depiction of Dubai being in a ravaged state of violence and destruction. Unlike other banned video games in the UAE, the National Media Control (NMC) and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) blocked the game's official website, and subsequently stopped the game's distribution throughout the rest of the GCC, as well as Lebanon and Jordan. Local retailers, such as Geekay Games, are not even allowed to sell the game via their online shops to UAE residents. As of today, the game remains unavailable via digital platforms.
|Spec Ops (series)|
|Rangers Lead the Way • Ranger Team Bravo • Green Berets • Stealth Patrol • Omega Squad • Ranger Elite • Covert Assault • Airborne Commando • The Line|