Sunday, 15 July 2012

Take an horrific trip to beautiful Dubai

Games are unique things, and while they are to be enjoyed, they can sometimes elicit an emotional response. Usually joy, or affection or perhaps even hatred. However having finished Spec Ops:The Line (such a terrible title), I experience an emotion that a game has never provoked before, guilt. Spec Ops is a third person military shooter with some basic sqad commands, not unlike a Ghost Recon game. It is set in the city of Dubai a few months after the entire city has been engulfed by a horrific sandstorms.

Without ruining the plot, you play a Delta Force captain having to make awful choices. On more than one occasion I put my hand to my mouth and let out a little gasp at what I have done. These choices aren’t listed on an evil meter or anything so enforced, they are there to give the story an emotional impact and effect how the story plays out. So while the actual combat is not particularly astonishing (the game looks phenomenal though, Unreal engine at its best), the game is going to stick in my mind far longer than many other games I have played.

After all games excel at making us feel like a hero, but very rarely make us feel like a monster. Even the games that allow us to do horrible things. I murdered people in Skyrim, I ripped out my enemies hearts in The Darkness 2 and ran over every mascot I could find in Saints Row The Third. Yet not even the tiniest pangs of guilt kicked in, that’s not me being a heartless bastard (though I am), it is purely because the games aren’t designed to make you attached. Probably the worst offender for this is Modern Warfare 2 with its infamous No Russian level. I have played this and I can say that it has no impact at all. This is because you are just dropped into the character, having never played him before, and told to kill people. You have formed no kind of attachment to the character and no effort is made to show that he feels bad about this, and at the end of the level your character is killed. It is a badly handled attempt to provoke a reaction that utterly fails.

However in Spec Ops your choices aren’t until a couple of hours in and you are getting to know the characters. So when you make the choice, it is a hard one. This is beautifully emphasised by the main characters appearance becoming more and more haggard and some phenomenal voice acting. The main character is voiced by Mr Uncharted himself, Nolan North, who does an excellent job of becoming more and more aggressive and, well deranged, as the game progresses. Sorry if this all sounds very gushing, but I finished this game two days ago and I am still thinking about it, but I played Halo Reach last night and all I can remember of that is future soldier men going to a place and killing things because some voice on a comm line told them too.

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