Spec Ops: The Line – E3 Preview
Spec Ops: The Line is coming your way from Yager Development / Darkside Game Studios and 2K Games very soon, and today I had the rare opportunity to go head to head with the devs themselves and play it (badly) to experience the first showing of this latest multiplayer content. The story for this follow-up to Spec Ops is that a massive sandstorm has all but destroyed Dubai; a US Army Colonel and his team remained in the wasteland to help those who couldn’t flee but lost all communication with their superiors and the team were ultimately presumed dead. That is, until a weak distress signal was located coming from the region. You play as Captain Walker, taking command of a team of Delta Operators tasked with infiltrating the area and locating the survivors. It is perhaps not an original storyline, but one with enough scope to make for an interesting campaign.
Having never played a Spec Ops title before, I was a little concerned about the controls and whether I’d actually be able to get on with the game, especially when the devs showing us the multiplayer missions mentioned Gears of War as an example of the type of game this was. Bear in mind that I couldn’t get past the first mission in GoW2 when I played it because of the controller set-up, and you’ll understand my trepidation. My fears were unfounded though because, after a quick talk-through of which button did what, it was plain to me that they didn’t work at all like GoW and I was good to go.
The first mission co-op that the dev and I played through was an escape mission. We had to fight our way out of some dusty old building that was filled with enemies; the weapons in hand were a pistol and an AK47, the workhorse of low-budget armies the world over. The pace would have been frantic had I not been dragging my heels a little while I familiarised myself with the controls. I felt like a complete n00b when I managed to drop a grenade on my partner before the battle had even really commenced but, luckily, it didn’t seem to do much damage to either of us and we soon managed to make our way forward and engage the enemies. Spec Ops utilises a typical cover system whereby you can duck behind objects and walls with the tap of a button, saving yourself from taking lots of damage. Of course you have to pick your cover quite carefully, even in the heat of battle, as enemies will look to out-flank you and find better angles for taking you out. Shooting from cover was fairly simple too, though you really have to choose your line of sight well before popping up to aim, otherwise you’ll be spending so long trying to line up the shots that the enemy will be able to hit you first.
When the coast is clear enough that you feel safe to move forward, you can vault from your cover and dash on to the next, aiming and firing on the move, covering your co-op partner in the process. This leap-frogging technique worked nicely, and we’d soon taken out the enemy commander and all his minions, so the last thing to take care of was a set of double glass doors with a grenade (one which was much better placed than my first); a final dash down some stairs and we were outside, and free.
Pumped-up from our success, the dev suggested another run-through but on a higher difficulty. Stupidly, I agreed and, after a quick flick through some settings, we were off. This time, with much more sophisticated equipment, and pitted against an equally-sophisticated enemy, we were soon bogged down in a massive firefight; one which was fast becoming deadly and, yep, soon enough my partner was bleeding out in front of me, and I bit the farm just as I was trying to revive him.
I didn’t fare a whole lot better in the single player campaign out on the show floor, which was housed in a beaten-up and bullet-ridden bus that they had set up as their booth. The main game was just as much fun as the multiplayer content though, and I am actually looking forward to seeing the finished product and playing through the storyline when it’s released in the UK on June 29th. I’m generally quite wary of FPS games when I’ve not played them before (largely thanks to Gears of War, and its totally ass-about-face aiming system) but Spec Ops: The Line follows the button layout most others adopt, and that has opened up another world of fast-paced action for me… which is nice.
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