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Spec Ops: The Line has an awesome bit that we're not allowed to talk about.If you read my recent(ish) preview, you'll know that Spec Ops: The Line has caught my attention. On first glance it looks like Yet Another Military Shooter, and on the surface at least, that's true: it's hundreds of men with guns, lots of convenient waist-high cover, and plenty of bits when you run to the latter so you can shoot at the former – or the other way round, if you're somewhat inept. There's a trio of Delta Operatives in the leading role, and the main bloke, Martin Walker, is voiced by Nolan North. So far, so familiar.Underneath all the usual explosions and chugging of testosterone, however, there's something slightly unusual: an unremittingly bleak tone. Not just in the usual, "let's use lots of shadows and have everyone swear a lot", but really bleak. Wading-through-piles-of-dead-bodies bleak, served with a side salad of buzzing flies. It all gets a bit much for Walker's two companions, Adams and Lugo, resulting in stressed-out bickering; occasionally it becomes like one of those family car journeys where everyone sulks in silence. Only here, it's sulking with guns and corpses.In the most recent demo... something happens. I've been asked not say what it is, exactly, and I'm not going to either, because it would spoil it for you.
Spec Ops: The Line brings Apocalypse Now to DubaiTwo terrified men dangle in the air. They've been bound, gagged, and left to hang from a metal overpass. On either side of the valley, at a distance, there's a pair of snipers, aiming at the prisoners with their high-calibre rifles.The hanging man on the right was caught stealing water; the hanging man on the left was ordered to punish the water thief, and responded by executing his family. Now one of the two must die. And you? It's your job to choose who gets the bullet.It's clear at moments like these that Spec Ops: The Line is aiming for maturity. It's a third-person shooter, and as such it's got all the gung-ho hijinks you'd expect from the genre: Roadie runs into cover, terse firefights, and skull-popping headshots. But when it's not asking you to deal with waves of gun-toting hostiles. The Line has a braver demand to make: it wants you to think."A lot of our inspiration comes from Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness, in terms of narrative, and also things like Full Metal Jacket and Platoon," says Denby Grace, executive producer at 2K. "You can draw comparisons with what those films did to war movies back in the '70s and '80s. They changed the stories that were telling about war movies.
Regular readers will notice that the following article is a slight departure from our usual preview style. For gamescom 2010 we've adopted a streamlined structure, allowing us to cover as many games as possible while giving you the important juice and info. In many cases we'll be running longer, more detailed previews upon our return to the UK.What is it?And would you look at that, after nearly a decade without any new material the Spec Ops series is actually back in business. The games had thrown players into the mad world of international terrorism back in the late Nineties and only now are we seeing the franchise dusted off after all but disappearing around 2000. It is a third-person shooter being developed by the independent German studio Yager Development, and you're headed to Dubai to save a stranded colonel amidst catastrophic sandstorms.What was shown?Lead Designer Cory Davis begins by showing us one level from Spec Ops' campaign. You're in Dubai, but it's not your dad's Dubai. This place has been reshaped by torrential sandstorms. Opulent buildings are now rubble and the city is locked in by hills of sand.
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