E3 2012: Spec-Ops: The Line Hands-On

Don’t you hate it when sand gets in your shoes? Well, expect a hell of a lot of that in Spec-Ops: The Line. Taking the role of Captain Martin Walker, you command the Delta Squad, an elite task force sent to Dubai after a nasty sandstorm hit the city and left only war and death. Releasing later this month, we take an early look at what you can expect from this war-torn adventure.

While a desert-based setting mixed with the Unreal engine seems it would only produce “current-gen” visuals, the color and uniqueness of Dubai lift the game above the expected. The gameplay mechanics are pretty much what you have come to expect from third person shooters, though. You aim down the barrel of your gun and pull the trigger. You will be forced to pick up ammo caches scattered across the map, or swap to a different weapon to take out the opponents in front of you. The piece we were able to play occurs farther into the game when everything has gone to hell and Captain Walker is battling with his inner demons along with gun-toting middle easterners.

Captain Walker is not a good guy; he is a man who does what he is told instead of listening to his intuition, not to mention every other word coming his mouth is an expletive. It’s refreshing to show the life of a soldier struggling with things, instead of just some average Joe questioning himself.

The demo has you find your fellow soldier and proceed to survive waves of enemies that spawn. Progressing through the level, we fought off the various forms of enemies, some who were coated in armor from head to toe and some who fought bare. The environment affected the gameplay only slightly when a sandstorm hits as you make your way onto a beached yacht. Your vision becomes hampered and you’ll have to rely on instinct to find where to run and how to progress. Although not experienced, we were told the environment will play a larger factor into the game, offering new and more creative ways to exterminate enemies.

The part of the game we played was no cakewalk. The demo that is available to the public is only a snippet of what to expect, while being much easier to progress through. Here we got a good taste of the tactful movements you have to perform, and the thoughtful and smart actions to accomplish in order to move forward and avoid being pummeled with lead.

Spec-Ops: The Line is a gritty, intense, edge of the seat thriller that left us wanting more. The combat feels like what you can expect from a third-person shooter, but the sound and environmental dynamics make this all the more enjoyable. Track through the bitter sand and fight your inner demons later this month when Spec-Ops ships to retailers.