EGM’s High Five: Spec Ops: The Line
Yager Development and Darkside Game Studios have their work cut out for them in Spec Ops: The Line. Not only are the developers tasked with reviving a classic franchise 10 years out of the game, but they have to hit all the necessary bullet points for a third-person shooter. That includes two player co-op, which we caught a look at during an E3 demo.
In the natural disaster zone of Dubai, sandstorms are just as much an enemy as the bad guys shooting at you. In one map dubbed “Refugee”, a massive sandstorm obscured the map while a Yager representative and I tried to advance to a target. It wasn’t clear if the weather was scripted or random, but it definitely threw a unique challenge into the mission, as our two-man team visibly blundered ahead to cover.
Watch Your Head
Spec Ops: The Line‘s gameplay is really focused on the almighty headshot, and even without it, most enemies can be downed with a single bullet. That’s a nice touch of realism, but it works both ways. Anytime I ate more than one bullet in a row, I was on the verge of instant “death” and needed my teammate to revive me. It’s only problematic when you’re trying to defend yourself, as the cover system is annoying sticky. Moreover, you can’t even crawl to a safe spot when injured, forcing your partner to either expose himself carelessly or try mowing down all the remaining enemies.
In Your Face
At least enemies are smart enough to not give you room to breathe in Spec Ops, and troops would always advance position whenever it seemed I was pinned. In one map called “Gorge Top,” the enemy’s surprising fire was so bad that my team had to split up to avoid crossfire. Even in doing that, the enemy AI still tries to corner you, so sitting and waiting behind a chest-high wall is like begging to get clocked across the head.
Runners and Tanks
Spec Ops also tests you with different enemy types that will deliberately force you out of cover, with the most frustrating one being an enemy type that tries to run straight up to your position and stab you in the face. Unfortunately, there’s no smooth way to transition into melee attacks from cover, so you’ll have to either pick them off early or temporarily abandon cover. At least the “heavy armor” enemies are less of a hassle to deal with—one grenade up the grill does most of the work.
Bonus vs. Free?
Even though I’m not exactly sure why 2K Games is bothering to make the distinction between “free bonus content” and “free DLC”, the important thing is that no matter which version of the game you buy—new or used—the co-op will be available without charge. That’s a good move that should get more people playing Spec Ops: The Line to begin with, and something that the publisher could easily charge an extra five bucks for. Hopefully, the entire package is good enough that the co-op will be considered icing on the cake, and not just something to fill in the various cracks in the gameplay.
Do you think that two-player co-op is something that Spec Ops: The Line needs to stand out in the FPS genre?