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Games That Hate You: “Spec Ops: The Line”

Spec Ops: The Line Ludos Mundi Games That Hate You

Games That Hate You: “Spec Ops: The Line”

Video games are typically designed with fun in mind. The fun can come from the feeling of accomplishment from completing various challenges or puzzles. Or it’s from getting immersed in a story that the player helps shape with his/her in-game character’s actions. Or it’s meeting fellow gamers and either playing cooperatively or beating them competitively.

But occasionally, a video game publisher releases a game that simply hates you. And it will show how much it hates you by reconstructing elements that you may consider fun in a video game into something that will frustrate and aggravate you while you ask yourself, “Why am I still playing this?”

By K Valentine

Why Spec Ops: The Line Hates You

Warfare shooter games let you play the hero of what is pretty much an interactive action film full of guns, explosions, and screwing the rules because you’re doing what you think is right. You will begin 2K Games’ warfare shooter Spec Ops: The Line game with the same heroic mindset. But your reward for finishing the game is a feeling of self-loathing for having such a mindset…yay.

The “Spec Ops: The Line” E3 demo was unimpressive in gameplay. Playing as Captain Walker, Spec Ops: The Line gameplay is a typical third person shooter that involves running behind cover in post-apocalyptic sandstorm Dubai and shooting almost everyone who isn’t one of your two subordinates until the end of the game. It quickly becomes repetitive and feels like office filing—where you file bullets into people’s heads.

At one point, Captain Walker decides to do what he thinks is right for the citizens of Dubai despite screwing his fellow American soldiers stationed there. You, as the player, are the one who ultimately executes his decision like the obedient button pusher that games turn you into. When the result is a VERY BAD THING, you witness firsthand the catastrophic consequences of your actions based on his decision. It’d be worrisome if you didn’t feel like shit at that point.

Rather than cut losses and quit, both you and Captain Walker are motivated to see this game/story to the end. Captain Walker feels he can make things right and still be a hero. You as a gamer are typically motivated to finish each game you start to get your money’s worth—and perhaps a few achievements/trophies for your gamer profile. Taking advantage of both motivations, “The Line” guides you both on an emotional roller coaster.

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But since this game hates you, each turn of this roller coaster causes Captain Walker and his subordinates to descend further into psychological madness as your actions only make things worse for Dubai. Yet you both struggle onwards towards the finale. Come the finale, the reward for the tenacity you both show is a stern lecture and series of flashbacks showing how badly Captain Walker really fucked up. “The Line” manages to blame you too for your stubbornness. None of what happened in Dubai would have happened if you just stopped playing and the loading screen says “This is all your fault” at one point. What game developer in their right mind chews out a gamer for playing their game?

Despite or because of the hatred this game has for you, the storytelling and connection between player and Captain Walker make “The Line” one of the most compelling PS3 and Xbox 360 shooters. Hopefully this Spec Ops: The Line review at least gets you to rethink the average warfare shooter.

At least until “Aliens: Colonial Marines,” which I feel will be the best FPS of February because you get to screw The Company’s rules because you’re doing the right thing in killing Xenomorphs. I hate those motherfucking face-huggers the most.

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