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Have You Played... Spec Ops: The Line?

The horror!

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Spec Ops: The Line [official site] is a pretty fun third-person cover shooter about shooting people in their faces, then sometimes feeling a bit bad or confused about killing them. I think BioShock made folks a bit excited about shooting games where shooting people was sometimes a bad thing, so reactions to Spec Ops were over-enthusiastic, but it's still pretty decent as face-shooters go. Its sandstorm-swept Dubai is a heck of a sight too.

In the aftermath of an catastrophic sandstorm striking Dubai, a small squad of US soldiers are sent in to find out what happened to a rescue force of other soldiers. Sweeping through sandy streets, deserted opulent hotels, and ruined skyscrapers, you discover they've got a bit Heart of Darkness and civilians are caught in the middle. Things get tricky here, beyond all the fun face-shooting.

Your presence mostly makes life worse for civilians and, at a few points, you have say in whether folks live or die. But the most dramatic and most praised of these 'The horror! The horror!' moments is entirely undercut by the game spawning enemies until you run out of ammo and must do The Bad Thing. Its setting and story are a nice change for a face-shooter, but it is all a wee too bit silly to be as harrowing as it seems to want to. This is perhaps more me grumping about games criticism than the game, mind.

Spec Ops: The Line a pretty fun cover-based shooter with good shooting, dramatic set pieces, and some nice narrative thoughts wrapped up in it. You can have nice face-shooting and some interesting thoughts. Also, our old friend the explosive red barrel is replaced by destructible environment bits unleashing crushing waves of sand.

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