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Dubai Or Not Dubai: Spec Ops: The Line Demo

Arriving slightly later than on consoles - boo, hiss - you can now check out the Heart of Darkness inspired shooter Spec Ops: The Line in all its sand-strewn glory. It doesn't just want you to murder your way through armies of crazy people in the remnants of fallen Dubai, but to think a little while you do. And not simply 'which gun should I shoot this guy with?' You'll get sand in your eyes, sand in your pants, and sand in your sandwiches, but try this demo if you're still feeling... wait for it, wait for it... Dubai-us! (accepts applause and thrown undergarments)


It's not a great demo, honestly. That's not a slam on the action itself, which is solid, satisfying, and a good example of the cover shooter. It's simply that most of the stuff Spec Ops: The Line is actually selling itself on simply isn't here - the cool sand mechanics like fighting through sandstorms, moral choices to make and then regret - and the flow is a little broken by jumping several chapters into a situation that hasn't really been set up to the point where any shit is likely to be given, nor any damns or tosses. But hey. Better that than ruin the story, right?

The action itself does however bode well for the full game. It's fairly traditional, but well-made traditional, with weapons, a really cool setting we haven't seen before (and one you'll often get to go inside in the full game, seeing insane Rapture style decoration that's been buried under sand rather than water), and very solid writing. At this point, everyone is fairly gruff and professional. As they encounter tortured civilians, wrestle with the decision to deploy phosphate weapons, and start cracking up, you can expect that to change. Certainly, this is no "America Saves The World" style patriotism-fest. Speaking with the writer a couple of months ago, he mentioned that his goal is to have everyone spit on the development team. For the right reasons. And metaphorically, not literally, before you rush over to Yager's Berlin headquarters with a bottle of Evian.

Please do appreciate the sand effects. Unless you've sat through about three hours of lectures about the stuff, you have no idea how proud the developers are of them.

The full game is due out on the 29th, with its main single player campaign, multiplayer action, and this month's fourteenth chance to enjoy the vocal stylings of Mr. Nolan North. Download the demo from Steam and prepare to find out that war kinda sucks. (Spoiler warning.)

FUN FACT: A flag flown upside down in a warzone is a signal for help. A flag flown upside down in a British garden is a signal for old ladies to start tutting disapprovingly.

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Spec Ops: The Line

PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Mac

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Richard Cobbett