Spec Ops: The Line E3 Preview

You may remember Spec Ops from your PlayStation days; there were four games in the franchise released on the system, along with one on Dreamcast and several others on PC. Today, eight years after the last game, a new Spec Ops is in development. Spec Ops: The Line is currently underway at Yager Development and it’s sandy in the best way possible.

Our E3 preview began at a starting point from somewhere halfway through the game. The player was in a dusty broken down room. A cutscene started up the game – the group members were conversing before gameplay began. The transition between the cutscene and the gameplay was very fluid, barley noticeable even. We saw the player walk into the middle of the room, where we could see an impressive glare coming down from the broken glass sunroof and into the room.

Stepping outside, we saw the city of Dubai covered in a sandstorm for the history books. The devs are promising a lot of visual variety, which we clearly saw in the movements between the building and outer Dubai. As for the outer city, it can only be described as beautiful destruction. Broken highways, random objects on fire, sandy hills, and a marvelous craft of the city’s towers make it a sight to see.

The squad in the game are on a mission to find John Comrade, one of their own who was in Dubai before the sandstorm hit. They apparently have intelligence that suggests he’s still alive and kicking. More specifically, at this point in the game, they’re looking for a man who may have details on his whereabouts.

As we saw the squad move into their first round of combat, the player took cover using the game’s cover system and began blind-firing over his cover. After getting hit with a couple of bullet rounds, the screen started turning red with blood. Since there was no health bar on screen, I’m assuming that means dynamic health is in tact, rather than the now rare health bar. The smooth gun-play continued, complimented by the player taking cover on a car and shooting through the missing doors.

Moving forward, the squad walked and talked, which will probably help the game tell out bits of the story when a cut-scene isn’t playing. Another round of combat broke out however, this time, the devs wanted to show off the game’s use of sand. The player threw and explosive at the enemy where it exploded and the tons of sand behind the enemy came crashing down and demolished their whole group. Sand will become very useful throughout the game, allowing players to create different paths, make it a useful weapon against enemies (kick sand in face and blind enemy, sand avalanche) – basically there’s a number of things that can be done with sand that will be at the player’s advantage.

Coming up towards the end of the demo, the devs experienced a minor bug. One of the players had died in combat and as we were watching the final cut-scene we heard the dead player’s squad mates speaking when he wasn’t really there. It was an unfortunate bug, the devs noted, but that’s why the game is still in development. Rest assured, it won’t be there when the game releases come next year.

The team’s putting their focus into a “dark, deep, mature narrative” for Spec Ops: The Line. The player will have to make difficult decisions that can affect the lives of their squad mates, the people of Dubai, and the outcome of the game. As real life goes, deciding on doing good things doesn’t necessarily mean that good things will happen. Players may often need to take the road less traveled. They promise “great gameplay” using “up close and personal” combat with today’s military weaponry. They want players to see the whites of their enemies eyes and even “hesitate” a little before pulling the trigger.

An Xbox LIVE beta for the game is scheduled to arrive this summer. Stay tuned for more information on that when it becomes available.

Check out the Spec Ops E3 screenshots at the gallery.

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