Pipe Dreams – Spec Ops: The Line… 2?

It’s a rare moment when I have the urge to write a Pipe Dreams based around asking for a sequel to a game which has only barely released itself onto store shelves. To be honest there’s rarely been a case when I’ve felt it’s been warranted. However, few games have ever shocked me to this extent before. Spec Ops: The Line is very much a contender for my personal Game of the Year for 2012, with it having one of the most brutal and impactive plotlines I have experienced in a video game in years, but following the sales figures a sequel “doesn’t look too great” according to the game’s Design Lead Jorg Friedrich. I say, may even go as far as to beg: make one anyway.

Low sales are often the justification for the lack of a sequel. I can understand the logic behind that, but it also has to be coupled with critical and public reception of the product – of which Spec Ops: The Line has high praise for both. I have seen some of the most well renowned tough critics broken by Spec Ops: The Line for its well paced story, fleshed out characters, and soul-crippling moral decisions that not only affect the gameplay but also the protagonist’s and the player’s psyche all the way through to the end. My personal favourite quote coming right out of the always glorious Ben “Zero Punctuation” Croshaw when he described the game’s experience as “giving feelings of genuine weariness, guilt, and actual physical sickness… Fun, fun, fun!”

I’ll grant that his description, out of context at least, may sound a tad daunting. Even possibly a score against the game, but allow me to expand on it. I agree with that one truth-packed statement. For those of you unaware; Spec Ops: The Line is set in a sandstorm torn Dubai and you are Martin Walker, the commander of an elite Delta Force squad, sent in find out what happened to the 33rd Brigade that never reported back after the American army sent them in to evacuate the city. As you unravel the happenings in the city remains you discover not everything done by both the populous and the leader of the 33rd, Colonel John Konrad, is as clear as it seems and it is down to you to figure out the best course of action. Needless to say that not everything you are faced with is as clear as it may seem, soon you are embroiled in a scenario so morally delicate that even Fox News wouldn’t touch it, and you are left to decide where to draw the line of what is necessary and what is right.

Spec Ops: The Line really did rekindle a long untapped deeper level of immersion for me. Sure, I’ve found many games immersive over the years, and I don’t mean this to take away any immersion credit I have heaped on previous titles such as Bioshock and Red Dead Redemption but Spec Ops reminded me of how entrenched I could get in a video game. Martin Walker may well have been the game’s protagonist, with him committing every action, but I felt absolutely terrible after some of the choices I made. Genuinely awful, to the point that I’m still debating if I made the right call a week after playing it. The story was magnificent, the split-second orders I had to make were horrifying yet so complex to pass my understanding, and the action sequences were terrific to boot. I even cared and learned about my NPC squadmates – John Lugo and Alphanso Adams were stuck right there in the shit with me, and I felt, as Walker, Hell even as Duncan Aird, responsible as their commander for every order I gave.

This was an astounding piece of media. Is it unique? Not quite. Spec Ops: The Line was actually based on a story from 1899, Heart of Darkness by John Conrad which also inspired the movie Apocalypse Now, but it adds to it. You can’t change a book, you can’t influence the main character in a movie, but you can in video games. I want Spec Ops: The Line to have a sequel of some kind, with the same thought in mind. Well built characters, fantastic pacing, and a moral choice system that leaves me as the player considering and debating my actions from the first step in the game, all way to the finale, and long after the experience is over. Go out, buy this game, and help show the developer and publisher that this level of game design does not go unappreciated.

That’s it for this episode of Pipe Dreams, my name’s Duncan Aird and I approve these dreams.


Do you have a suggestion for future Pipe Dream posts? I want to hear it! I think it would be awesome, and make my job a lot easier, so please do leave it as a comment down below. However, if you would prefer to use that social networking addiction we all have constructively then you can also Tweet your thoughts to @ReadyUp with the hashtag #RUPipeDreams, or just put a post over on our Facebook Page. The options are endless! Except those three are pretty much all of the options… I look forward to each and every one of your opinions! Especially if you regretted every decision you made in Spec Ops: The Line the first time around.


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