After a haboob of massive proportions, Dubai rests in sandy ruins. A small squad of Delta Operatives, led by Captain Martin Walker, are sent to search for survivors after receiving a distress signal. Turns out the signal is a hoax. Dubai is in bad shape, it’s true, but the signal is being broadcasted by a group of rebels and army deserters. Walker needs to find out what happened to a CIA operative named Konrad. In short, it’s Heart of Darkness, but with lot more guns, explosions, and the occasional wub wub. The most impressive part of The Line is the setting of a haboobed Dubai (that’s mostly because I like typing haboob).
Spec Ops: The Line is a third person cover based shooter from Yager Development and 2K Games. The squad hits Dubai, navigating their way through a maze of abandoned cars. After coming across a dead soldier and MacGyver’d radio tower, some rebels get the drop on you and your squad. With yourself exposed, your squad attempts to talk down the rebels. They’re not having it. Noticing a bus full of sand (it was a really big haboob) behind the rebels, you take a few shots at the windows and unleash the wave of sand on them. This gives you enough time to hop into cover where the rest of the skirmish plays out like any other third person shooter. Poking your head out of cover occasionally while constantly flanking your opponents. Once the brief firefight has ended, you continue your way through the maze of vehicles. The squad turns a corner and becomes pinned down by a turret. This is where Spec Ops: The Line‘s squad commands come into play. By selecting an enemy, you can command your squad-mates to take out high priority targets. Along with taking out individual targets, you can also issue commands for flash bangs, reviving fallen team members and other equipment that hasn’t been shown yet.
Walker’s controls are a bit clumsy. Hopping over cover, and switching from post to post becomes slightly awkward due to a non-standard control scheme. There’s no option for maneuvering along angles of cover, forcing players to stand straight up and move to the other side manually. Shooting isn’t about ultra precision, which works well since only a couple bullets are needed to drop foes. Destructible environments are in the game, but so far they only appear to be set pieces rather than a natural part of the world. Squad tactics and commands appear to be essential to survival since most snipers and heavy gun wielders will target Walker first. That, and your squad-mates can soak up a lot of bullets before being knocked down.
The destroyed Dubai is beautiful. The enormous skyscrapers are always visible, and there’s a nice contrast of a blue sky to the perpetual brown of sand. There’s sand literally everywhere. Wind effects look spectacular as small clouds of sand sift through the air. Overall, The Line looks well made and polished with some interesting story beats. Whether it or it’s unseen multiplayer will pan out has yet to be determined. Spec Ops: The Line is set to release June 26, 2012 on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.