Unimaginable! Spec Ops: The Line

Setting a shooter in the ruins of Dubai seems a little cheeky. Poor old Dubai, they must be regretting that thing where they decided to metaphorically and literally build on sand. Anyway, 2K’s shooter is set in the near-future ruins of the city, and looks rather exciting. The blurb from 2K says: “Spec Ops: The Line is a provocative and gripping third-person modern military shooter that challenges players’ morality by putting them in the middle of unspeakable situations where unimaginable choices affecting human life must be made.” Unimaginable! Wow, that must be pretty extreme, because I can imagine some pretty outlandish choices. The trailer (below) has a Heart Of Darkness-meets-Gears of War vibe going on. Could be interesting. The game is slated for release during Take-Two’s 2011 fiscal year, which begins on November 1, 2010.


  1. milko says:

    I just imagined a choice between all humans being turned into clones of Mr Blobby, or all humans having to wear a top hat, the subsequent removal of which causes instant death. Brr.

    • Wilson says:

      Milko: Top hats, easily. That might be a near-unimaginable choice, but not a difficult one I think. Unless you happen to be a huge fan of Mr Blobby/have a very evil sense of humour.

    • Jakkar says:

      I love you.

    • Bret says:

      Gotta agree. Top hats are awesome.

  2. Sajmn says:

    Man, did you see that? That must be some advanced technology the likes of which we’ve never seen before.

    Fully automatic recoilless rifles! And you don’t even have to aim it!

  3. Dave says:

    I’m just getting two things from this… “console game” and “Björk Björk Björk Björk.”

  4. Harbour Master says:

    Is that Bruce Boxleitner doing the voice over?

  5. EvaUnit02 says:

    From that trailer, I’m impressed by size of the environments and the sandstorm effects. Judging by the voice-over, one gets the impression that plot maybe similar to Apocalypse Now.

    P.S. uses UE3.0 engine.

    • EaterOfCheese says:

      $10 says their sandstorm is purely a fullscreen visual effect and nothing more.

  6. Bhazor says:

    The trailer looks impressive.
    But that’s some of the most fevered hyperbole I’ve read in a while. Molyneux would back away from it saying “woah now, steady on guy”.

  7. Bobsy says:

    Yeah. Bjork makes me want to shoot things too.

  8. a says:

    My first thought was, “another one of these?” It does look like the game might offer more than the shooting of Arabian men, however. I’m starting to feel like they are the new nazis. Or zombies. =/

  9. robrob says:

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  10. neems says:

    I’m glad this thread is looking at ‘The Line’ with the appropriate amount of suspicion; over on the MoH thread it was being hailed as the saviour of modern shooters.

  11. aaron says:

    Looks cool. I like the sense of scale.

  12. deadlock says:

    Okay, so it’s set in the ruins of Dubai, which is in the United Arab Emirates which is itself in the Gulf region of the Middle East. And the trailer opens with a shot of a tattered US flag because…?

    • aldo says:

      Flag’s upside down though.

      EvaUnit02 is right with the Apocalypse Now reference, though – the press release makes it sound that they’re copying that/Heart of Darkness more than just a little….

    • Jeremy says:

      I’m guessing it might have something to do with the plot… just throwing that out there.

  13. Tei says:

    I love desert, maybe is the Dune fan on me. The settings for this look fantastic. Hope the nice people of Dubai don’t mind we using his pretty city for this.

    I am soo happy, that I don’t mind the type of game that will be built on this. Looks like a “rail shotter”, but I could be wrong.

  14. Stitched says:

    From here : link to jeffhead.com

    “(a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

    Most individuals who have served in the military service of our nation will (or should) recognize this signal.

    As a result of the many traitors and enemies we as a free people have, both foreign and domestic, as a result of the many unconstitutional acts, legislation and atrocities passed and/or committed against US citizens and their life, liberty and property, and as a result of policies that have allowed (and continue to allow) enemies of this nation to enter in large numbers through a porous border policy, I believe the life, liberty and property of US Citizens are in dire danger and distress. “

  15. oceanclub says:

    I dunno but when I see “third-person shooter” my heart sinks a little.


    • Shalrath says:

      I totally agree, I get the same awful feeling every time.

      Also, just to reiterate what I said in the MOH thread: This game here has the WORST THIRD PERSON CAMERA I’ve ever seen.

      And yes, the recoilless rifle in fully-automatic does seem to be real.

      It must be odd writing and scripting these fairly realistic cutscenes only to have them sandwiched with the most Gears of War, I-Don’t-Really-Feel-Like-Aiming gunplay.

  16. Gap Gen says:

    Ooh, is that sand physics leading to deformable terrain? In any case, the combat looks a bit eh. Cover mechanics always look a bit stilted from a PC perspective, although they make a lot of sense on the console.

  17. Wooly says:

    Dubai’s not looking so hot! I must say though, this game looks very interesting. I especially like the desaturated/orangish art direction.

  18. HexagonalBolts says:

    Very impressive trailer.

  19. Alexander Norris says:


    Why is the narrator a pirate?

    I mean, why?

    • Jeremy says:

      On the flip side, you might ask why aren’t there more?

    • aldo says:

      Ok, now I want a Special Forces vs Pirates game set in a dusty post-apocalyptic Middle Eastern country. With robots. In fact, with robot monkeys (and possibly parrots). Oh, and possibly a Zulu warrior firing gun.

    • DMJ says:

      Oh my god… I just tried to imagine the Black Prophecy narrator talking like a pirate…

      It was almost unimaginable.

  20. Moni says:

    The song is called “Storm”, for those who are interested.

    link to youtube.com

    Fun trivia: Look at the statistics and data for that video, and notice how it the number of views spike in the last day or so.

    Nice trailer, etc.

  21. Ybfelix says:

    Play the trailer silent and mentally substitute with generic shooter music, and suddenly this video become much more mundane.

    So the song did work wonders.

  22. espy says:

    Looks good, great setting, nice sand physics and dust, lovely ruins. Combat looks bland, though. More sneaking in games would be nice.

    And more dust and wind.

  23. Sunjammer says:

    Well this looks way more interesting than any other modern era shooter i’ve seen recently. So i’ll forgive the franchise necromancy; Spec Ops were shit, shit, SHIT games. Hopefully they’ll survive that legacy.

  24. Jakkar says:

    Please note, setting and setpieces closely mimic upcoming Ubisoft (I think) title ‘I am Alive’ – Major city is destroyed by cataclysmic sandstorms/related events, you fight in the ruins.

    It’s I am Alive without the emphasis on water and survival, with more of a focus on Gears of War clone shootemup. Every time something interesting is announced, someone clones it in ‘for dummies’ form soon after, these days.

    • Jakkar says:

      Random example; Men of War achieves a positive critical reception and lots of attention from sites like RPS. Wait, Order of War? What’s that? Looks exciting! Square Enix? It must be good! £££$$$€€€!!!

    • Tei says:

      You say like Plagiarism is a bad thing.

      Is not. Withouth plagiarim the would become limited to one RTS: Dune 2. And one FPS: Quake1 (lets ingore the older ones). You can’t have Puzzle Quest withouth some plagiarism. Plagiarism is good, and help us have nice things. For every World of Warcraft rocking your socks, you need a Everquest to plagiarize from (and Everquest plagiarice from others older). To be honest, all games have a long heritage, is like all games grown in a family tree, where no game is parentless… more like every and all games have more than 100 parents, and theres always ideas and features flyiing everywhere, like genes or internet memes.

    • Okami says:

      Wot Tei said. Also, games (espcially if they’re not part of a franchise) tend to spend quite some time in pre-production before they’re announced. So the chances are good that the developers started working on this game long before I Am Alive was first announced…

    • Vitamin Powered says:

      I think this is a case that sometimes ideas just have their day. We’ve had the legions o’ zombie games; fighting in the ruins of civilisations is having its day.

      Of course, it’s a day that started with STALKER, so perhaps it is less “we’re at the start of the ruined city craze” and more “the ruined cityscape speaks eternally to us”.

    • Jeremy says:

      In this one post and set of replies I am horrified by two things… and please don’t judge. I have neither played Men of War nor STALKER. I am ashamed.

    • Jakkar says:

      Taking inspiration is one thing – directly copying other games to leech them and keep weaker competitors weak is just cruel and very real business practise.

      Plagiarism is unnecessary with imagination.. Such a rare commodity.

  25. Heliosicle says:

    Looks SERIOUSLY like KillSwitch

  26. Dan says:

    Sounds like. Worth buying for all us Babylon 5 fans…

  27. 1stGear says:

    The game’s palette appears to be limited to three colors. Brown, bloom, and muzzle flash.

    • Vinraith says:

      You “everything should be brightly colored” folks aren’t really any better than the “everything should be grimdark” crowd, you know that? Here’s a novel idea: maybe games should choose color palettes appropriate to their setting, subject matter, and tone.

    • Okami says:

      @Vinraith: How dare you be sensible on the internet?


    • PHeMoX says:

      @1stgear: It fits the game, where in Diablo III colorful graphics DON’T fit the game, nor franchise for that matter !!!!

      Hence Vinraith is wrong, there’s a difference.

    • Shalrath says:

      @ Vinraith
      I wasn’t aware ‘bloom’ was a colour in the desert. But apparently being unable to look at anything directly is a desert thing.

      Art must suffer there.

    • DK says:

      “I wasn’t aware ‘bloom’ was a colour in the desert. But apparently being unable to look at anything directly is a desert thing.”
      I can’t tell if that’s sarcasm or if you’re serious. Yes, not being able to look at things is a desert thing. It’s very similar to being on top of glaciers during the day. You’ll be literally blinded until your eyes adjust, even with sunglasses. The desert is one of the few settings in which super-over-the-top bloom is fitting.

  28. RoteByrd says:

    Yeah, Apocalypse Now is the Vietnam Era movie adaptation of Heart of Darkness that’s why Jim said that.

  29. l1ddl3monkey says:

    Kind of had a Bioshock with sand thing going on, with it’s failed ideology being militarism rather than libertarianism. I think it’s that and the liberally corpse strewn ruins of someones ideal world and the “protagonist with a dangerous and failed vision” thing that reminded me Bioshock.

    But: Bioshock(ish) with GOW style gunplay and some Bjork on the soundtrack?

    Yeah; I’d play that.

  30. Dreamhacker says:

    Heart of Darkness the 1998 platformer or Heart of Darkness the Joseph Conrad Far Cry 2 inspiring book?

  31. PHeMoX says:

    Spec Ops, as in a sequel to the ‘Spec Ops 2: Green Barret’ series from like 10 years ago?

    Now that took them way too long, I love Spec Ops 1 and 2. :)

    Also, the trailer is looking pretty good.

  32. Jeremy says:

    Doesn’t it seem like we’re just so close? Like game developers are just on the brink of creating the ultimate game? There are so many ideas floating around that were almost perfect, and yet… there still seems to be something lacking. FarCry 2 had fantastic open world concepts that were muddled by repetitive gameplay and plenty of generic missions a la Assassin’s Creed (also see Fallout 3, conceptually speaking, before the Bethesda haters come out full force). Modern Warfare has brought the mechanics of the shooter to an ultimate level, barring the sci fi jibber jabber and trying futilely to create a meaningful shocker of a scene. It just seems like all these different games are getting so many things right, and yet failing to bring it together into a coherent package that blows anything out of the water. Is it even possible to create the ultimate game, or am I just being idealistic? I would imagine merging the best ideas from FarCry, Modern Warfare, Fallout 3 and a dash of Red Faction: Guerilla could be quite the tasty recipe for an epic game. Just rambling, apologies.

    • Okami says:


      Modern Warfare has brought the mechanics of the shooter to an ultimate level

      Having enemies that can see and shoot through walls endlessly respawning in your back is the ultimate level of shooter mechanics?

    • Jeremy says:

      I didn’t say AI and I wouldn’t consider endless respawning a “mechanic” of a shooter.

    • Polysynchronicity says:

      AI is totally one of the game mechanics. So is the way enemies are generated.

    • Tei says:

      @Jeremy: The convergence on look is obvious. Since theres only one reality, and some games are tryiing to looks at more like real as possible. Is obvious that all games are converging to this same One thing, reality. Then there are games like Borderlands and Team Fortress 2 that hare escaping from this spiral. We don’t know what is on the end of the spiral, anyway. Maybe theres art beyond reality, once your game is more real than real life, you could create art? (?).

    • Jeremy says:

      Maybe I should redefine my explanation of “mechanics”, or maybe explain it in the first place. To me, mechanics is: The act of shooting other people, and the satisfaction of it’s combat alone. It ignores story, AI, sci fi snowmobile chases in space, etc. I know everyone wants to hate MW2 and Infinity Ward for reasons both valid and not so much, I’m not a huge fan myself. However, I think it would be hard to argue that they’ve made the act of shooting a gun feel terrible, but instead have made combat feel very visceral, which is a good thing I think. I imagine if the combat in FarCry 2 had been a bit more polished in the style of MW2 (heresy!), then the game may have been more enjoyable all around. Granted, a lot of people loved that game, but I think more for what it represented conceptually than truly the game itself. I could be wrong though.

      @Tei, I mean this in no way disrespectfully, but I don’t have a solid idea of what you meant in your response. If I were to take what I *think* you meant, the actual art style had nothing to do with my uses of those games, but rather their concepts of combat, free roaming and exploration.

    • Shalrath says:

      “Maybe I should redefine my explanation of “mechanics”, or maybe explain it in the first place. To me, mechanics is: The act of shooting other people, and the satisfaction of it’s combat alone. ”

      So if we’re talking across all consoles (360 referenced here) it’s:
      “Left trigger (lock on), Right Trigger (kill), Left trigger (lock on), Right Trigger (kill)…”
      With no exaggeration? (For those who have never tried the console versions, pressing the left trigger button ‘locks on’ to anyone near your crosshair. This leads to, when in a good hiding place, literally tapping back and forth between the triggers to get kills)

      …and across all platforms the Clown-Car rooms that vomit enemies until you cross an invisible line? Enemies that take rounds to the spine via the hip-bone and keep coming? Melee enemies (dogs) that present the ONLY Quick-Time Events in the entire game? (Press Alt to not die – but only in this 1/4 of a second!) A system where all enemies fire at you – and you alone – completely forgetting your AI ‘partners’ even exist most of the time? Pin-point grenade-throwing psychics that can tell where you are 100% of the time?

      I’m not seeing what was so great about what Modern Warfare brings to the table, mechanic-wise, that we should praise it.

    • Jeremy says:

      It’s apparent that it is too soon to commend MW2 for anything involving rational discussion. Obviously I was talking specifically about the tippity tapping of various buttons and their unique relationships with one another. Using the mouse to aim and left click to shoot is outright revolutionary, how could these folks come up with such a concept?

      Honestly, if the aim is to simply take people out of context to prove how cynical and totally edgy you are, then I must decline from the rest of this conversation, or lack of one.

    • Shalrath says:

      Well you’ve successfully pointed out that mouse + keyboard isn’t revolutionary, and that you don’t consider it’s controls to be an issue, how about the other stuff I mentioned?

      I’m not attacking this because it’s new and cool – I’m attacking it because the series is exactly the same for nine games or whatever it is now, the new stuff is often WORSE, and the mechanics are so irritating that people actually invented terms for parts of them. Hell, you say ‘the sniper level’ and everyone in the room feels the same amount of sheer annoyance. To follow the best level in the game with the WORST was an odd, odd idea.

    • Funky Badger says:

      Haven’t played MW2 yet, but the actual shooty bits in MW1 weren’t as good as the actual shooty bits in F.E.A.R. The use of narrative was far better, but the shooter bits weren’t.

    • godwin says:

      How much variation can you seriously get with the ‘shooty bits’ of an FPS game? A lot of it comes down to fine tuning and player preference. It’s obvious after reading your words that you’re only interested in finding a game that best simulates how guns and bullets work and at that, on people, while keeping you engaged and entertained in performing that action, repeatedly. Wait, is that even a game? After setting the bar so low, why pretend to have standards?

    • Jeremy says:

      I hate you Godwin.

  33. 1stGear says:

    Did I say everything should be brightly colored? Nope. In fact, I’m rather fond of Far Cry 2’s “real is brown” because it adds to the utterly depressing and grim state that this country is in.

    But this? Nothing about this game looks vaguely interesting. As someone else said, sub out the Bjork for generic rock and suddenly you just have Gears of War: Modern Warfare. The press release only reinforces this. Unimaginable choices? Sort of like Bioshock’s? Some tosh about a made-up THE LINE that could just as easily read “Special Operatives are cool.” Nor does the developer or publisher excite me, since both produce games that are good, but not exceptional.

    To me, the browness and blandness of this trailer just seems indicitive of the game itself.

  34. EaterOfCheese says:

    Byork & shooting = fail.

  35. Po0py says:

    I wonder is this Ken Levine’s new game? I can’t find anything that says that it is being developed by 2k Boston, nor can I find anything that says it isn’t. I know 2k Marin is doing Bioshock 2 so that counts them out.

  36. Lord_Mordja says:

    I don’t think it is, as it’s actually being developed by Yager Development, a German company.

    Regarding the game, this will probably be the first “modern warfare” shooter I’ll buy (ok, not including BF2). The setting has a certain surreal quality to it and it’s nice to see an Arab city in a game that isn’t just “nondescript apartment blocks and ugly brown houses”. The whole Apocalypse Now storyline is also more palatable than your average “terrists ‘n commies ‘n bears, oh my!” and while I doubt it will deliver on the Moral Choices (TM) front, at least it’s not the Airport level. As for the palette, yes, while brown, the dominant colour is the colour of sand and I have to say, their effects look amazing.

    That said, I’d definitely change the name. Not only is there apparently a stigma associated with the franchise, people who’d never heard about it (like myself) would probably approach the game expecting a realistic tactical shooter. Which it obviously is not. In fact, I’d hardly call it a modern war game at all, it looks more post-apoc only with militaries instead of raiders. Actually Gamespot has another video up there that just emphasizes the unrealistic elements of the game (Colonel Not Kurtz must have one hell of a sand blower).

    link to gamespot.com

    tl;dr I’ve surprised myself by being excited about this game.

  37. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    I’d rather be pleasantly surprised when it turns out to be interesting than to try and look at snippets of trailer for bits of excitement. And I probably won’t be surprised.

  38. underproseductor says:

    I like the setting and concept of this game … this could be good.

  39. -Spooky- says:

    Spec Ops: Rangers lead the way

    Is the new spec ops a sequel or a whole new serie?

  40. 12kill4 says:

    Wow! That looks both gritty and compelling! The visuals look sharp and the controls are most definately going to be tight! This game will blow up your grandmother and use the remaining chucks of flesh to feed a pack of dogs being trained to track and kill the rest of your family.


  41. ZIGS says:

    When I look at the actual gaming landscape, a deep sadness takes over my heart

  42. MastodonFarm says:

    Wow, tough room. Though I suppose the RPS commentariat isn’t exactly the target audience for a console-y shooter. As for me, I think the setting looks interesting and cool. I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic real-world settings.

  43. Shadowcat says:

    a Heart Of Darkness-meets-Gears of War vibe

    Being a PC gaming site, I could only presume that you were referring to Amazing Studios’ superb platformer, and that made for the strangest combination in my head. Muscled gun-toting dude with an acute shadow complex, and a cute dog?

    Watching the trailer, it’s clear that you were actually referring to the book, which makes me suspect that maybe you’ve not played the game? Please ensure that you remedy that as soon as possible — it’s wonderful.

  44. Torgen says:

    Well, if nothing else, the setting features the ultimate (if you have a scope powerful enough)

  45. Pl4t0 says:

    however terrible the game turns out to be (and I’m not entirely sure that it actually will be terrible at all), at least we got this epic trailer out of it.

    It’s also about damn time that someone did a game that toys around with the ideas in Heart of Darkness – just think about the possibilities for the story…games are seeing this kind of revolution in marture storytelling, and if nothing else this LOOKS like a step forward.

  46. W says:

    If they license Björk to do the entire soundtrack I’m sold. What a pleasent surprise that was, generic-looking gameplay aside.