It's coming up on the end of the year, which means it's time to start looking back. And amid the Kickstarter campaigns and DRM-debates that kept 2012 so interesting, one game keeps coming back up: The brutal Spec Ops: The Line. It was a clever game that despite its hum-drum third-person shooter trappings was also a surprisingly successful look inside the mind of a killer, and an at-times subversive critique of the military shooter genre.
(Our review here.)
But what would a guy who'd actually served in the military think of it?
Critic Kris Ligman got in touch with a friend of hers, who goes by "R." who had done two tours in Iraq with the Marines to ask him what he thought of the game. Their conversation is pretty good stuff. (It also contains some pretty big spoilers, so be warned. These excerpts still have spoilers, but not the big ones.)
R.: and now I'm dropping white phosphorus on friendlies.
Kris: did you immediately give the order for that?
Kris: I tried holding out
R.: I had a choice?
Kris: technically, but the enemies infinitely respawn, and you have no means to refill ammo
R.: And now I have to walk slowly though the wreckage and wounded from my WP attack. Fanfuckingtastic.
Kris: oh wait till you get to the underpass of the bridge where you bombed that last humvee
R.: And I murdered civilians. FEEL GOOD GAME OF THE CENTURY!
Kris: I know!
I liked when he nitpicked the game's accuracy:
Kris: So, overall, worth the time spent playing? You did guess the twist pretty early on
R.: Even figuring out the twist, yeah, still worth playing.
Kris: All my Twitter friends are dying to know your technical nitpicks
R.: Oh there was a bunch wrong. M16′s are not fully automatic, teams tend to be 4 people, not 3, a sniper would have a spotter, a captain would not be leading a team, and said team would not have a lieutenant in it. .50cal barrels do overheat with a sustained rate of fire, but need to be replaced afterwards. The US Military doesn't use P90′s, or FAMAS, and the shotguns used are Berelli 12 gauge
Kris: I think there was a scene where Lugo served as a spotter while Walker had a sniper rifle. I found that weird seeing as, apparently, Lugo was the team sniper
Kris: I do wonder why they opted for a team of 3 rather than 4
Kris: Apart from making it easier to kill the squaddies off in a timely manner
R.: Oh also, the 33rd seems to have several thousand more people than a battalion would actually have.
Kris: and incredibly well-organized. And fashionable, with all those fedoras.
R.: And the entire premise of a Colonel leading his entire battalion rogue is just wrong.
Kris: that's pretty much where Apocalypse Now goes as well, hah
In the end, does R. think that Spec Ops: The Line was anti-war? "I didn't see anti-war in it," he writes. "I think it was critical in dealing with the psychological stress war inflicts, both on servicemen and civilians. It also gave you some of the perspective of both those in charge and those following. 'Freedom is what you do with whats been done to you.' Loading screen tip I just got. I like it."
The whole conversation is worth giving a a read, and, as sales happen and used prices fall, Spec Ops: The Line is really worth giving a play.
Context-Sensitive Spec Ops [Dire Critic]