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    dkirschner's Spec Ops: The Line (PC)

    [July 21, 2016 09:37:12 AM]
    I know the answers to my questions, but they've been bouncing around in my head for a week after playing the excellent Spec Ops: The Line: How is this game not more popular? How are people so into Call of Duty and Battlefield but not this? Why don't Call of Duty and Battlefield tackle tough questions about war like this game does? This is the best military-themed shooter I've played possibly ever. The story is brilliant. I don't care if it forces you into committing war crimes; that's the point: to think about this kind of thing from the perspective of soldiers who are stressed out, under fire, surviving, negotiating between commands, protocols, common sense, personal morality, ethical responsibility, mission objectives, situational factors, etc., etc. Until there are more games that quit letting us all play the hero all the time, we aren't going to de-glorify war and we aren't going to understand what it is like to be in situations where, yeah you theoretically have a choice, but it is constrained to the point of nonexistence or pure reaction and sometimes really bad things result.

    War is traumatic, not entertainment, and that's what Spec Ops argues. It puts you in a terrible situation, a wrecked Dubai caught in a sand storm. Another Army group, the Damned 33rd, led by a guy named Konrad, had previously gone in en route from Afghanistan to evacuate the population, but they ended up taking over the ruined city and establishing martial law. So you and your team are sent in to recon for survivors after a radio broadcast from the Damned 33rd somehow gets out from behind the sand storm wall. You quickly learn that the Damned 33rd under Konrad has carried out atrocities against the Emirate civilians and foreign workers stuck in the city, so you (as the commander of your 3-man squad) decide to intervene. What follows is an epic journey to the heart of Dubai and ultimately through the mind of your character. This game takes clear influence from Heart of Darkness (character Konrad, character Kurtz, author Conrad) and Apocalypse Now.

    I can't say too much about the story without spoiling key moments, but if you've read anything about this game, then you've read about the white phosphorous scene. It is horrific, far more upsetting than I had imagined. It makes me think what it might have been like in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Tokyo and Dresden or some other place that was obliterated by people putting the "greater good" above the lives of tens of thousands of civilians. It makes me think about the people who gave the orders for these bombings and the people who created weapons of war and Oppenheimer's famous quoting from the Bhagavad-Gita, "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." It makes me think about drone attacks in the Middle East, and about the power of fear and moral crusading and the consequences of (competing) rigid ideologies.

    And there are more scenes than just the white phosphorous one that elicit similar reactions, though it was by far the heaviest. But this is the kind of thing people need to experience, the perspective that people need to be exposed to, even if they disagree in the end. In video games, it's a perspective on war that hasn't been much explored, the perspective that war is hell; it is not about playing the hero. I look forward to playing some other recent games that challenge dominant perspectives on war, that challenge the good guy/bad guy dichotomy, that make me think. I just got This War of Mine during the last Steam sale, which provides a civilian perspective, and I've got Valiant Hearts queued up to play soon.

    Spec Ops: The Line is a really important game thematically. It's not the most innovative shooter or anything. I found the gameplay fun, engaging, and polished, but this is the kind of game that by the end you are playing to see what happens. There is a cool mechanic with the sand. If you see sand falling or piled up outside a window, you can shoot the glass out and cause a sand avalanche that drowns or stuns enemies. Anyway, that's about it. Do yourself a favor and play this!
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    Status

    dkirschner's Spec Ops: The Line (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Saturday 16 July, 2016

    GameLog closed on: Wednesday 20 July, 2016

    Opinion
    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Really enjoying it. Asks important questions about war. --------- Excellent story, good game, very important!

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

    Related Links

    See dkirschner's page

    See info on Spec Ops: The Line

    More GameLogs
    other GameLogs for this Game
    1 : Spec Ops: The Line (PC) by JordanC (rating: 5)
    2 : Spec Ops: The Line (PS3) by jp (rating: 5)

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