Spec Ops: The Line Aiming To Tell A More Human Story Than Other Shooters
It is all the rage for first person shooter games to have a heavy focus on setpieces, pushing the humanity and character of those caught up in the war being presented to the back. This is completely understandable. People want to be able to connect with heroes, not the ordinary infantrymen, but we are seeing, ever more commonly, developers trying to get inside the mindset of a soldier and tell a story that is less ambitious in scope. Homefront tried it. The Battlefield: Bad Company series went some way towards doing it, and David Cage, of Quantic Dream, has expressed interest in attempting it. However, there is one smaller, less well-known game that is not seeking to glorify a soldier and his war. That game is Spec Ops: The Line.
A recent interview based preview of the game at IGN explains the goals of the development team at Yager Development in the words of Associate Producer Michael Kempson:
“We’re telling a slightly more humble story. I think warfare deserves to be treated like that. If you’re going to go there, treat it with a bit of humility and understanding. And that’s what we want to bring to the genre – these human stories about what war does to different people. We think it’s a good time for games to start doing that, particularly in the military space.”
“We talk a lot in the studio about what Heart of Darkness said about the mind-set of people, and how Apocalypse Now saw a similar thing to us. The Apocalypse Now guys read the book and thought, ‘wow, this is a different direction’. That’s when ’80s films like Platoon and Full Metal Jacket came along and started telling really different stories, very human stories, in a genre which had already been established. And that’s what we’re thinking for Spec Ops: The Line.”
“Yes we are a military shooter, and we’re playing as Americans, but ‘the line’ is more ambiguous, and that plays entirely into our narrative. Our question to players is ‘where is your line?’”
It’s an interesting place for them to be going, but it is long overdue for us to get a story like this in a military based video game. The gameplay may not be the most original or exciting, but if these developers can nail down the tone, atmosphere and story potential that they are aiming for, it could be one of the more interesting games of this coming year. It is currently set for a vague Spring release.