Extra Credits: Spec Ops: The Line (Part 1)

This week, we talk about what makes Spec Ops: The Line so great (without spoilers).

Show Notes:

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Recent Comments:

  • Wow. I knew that my opinion wouldn't be popular, but to have it deleted from the thread? Bravo, guys. Way to promote discussion.

    I can't find any evidence of a post deleted in this thread within our logs, if you'd still like to appeal drop me a PM with the details of your post as accurately as you can make them and I'll take a look, you also haven't had any warnings so either its our or your error.

  • To Djinni: Sorry if I went over things a little too fast, but I wanted to keep the discussion about Rand succinct to keep from completely derailing the thread on Rand/Objectivism (which has happened in too many threads I've been in, since it tends to spark as passionate a debate as any political topic), and don't particularly want to go further into it. I'll just say that there are ways to make a case for whether the critique is valid or not or whether there was just sloppy writing that didn't make a clear argument.

    But the supposed choice of weapons in FPS in terms of weaponry is almost always horrible, because it's baseless: you never know what threats are ahead, so you don't know what to plan for; if they gave you a proper briefing were you knew some of the threats, you could evaluate what enemies you are strong against, and might not have to overkill with a weapon specified for said enemy.
    At best your decision revolves around: "what would I be fucked if I meet?" since it only takes one worst case scenario to kill you, or "How could I plow through these enemies most efficiently?" because you're impatient and just want to save time, which is not a strong point in the games favour if you feel bored and want to rush.

    I'm going to disagree on this point - you generally DO know what you're going to face in most games where it really matters.

    To make an example out of Halo, again, generally speaking, if the first five minutes of the level were grunts and elites and maybe one or two other types of threats, you can generally expect the next ten minutes of the level to be more and more of the same.

    Further, the time that it really, truly does matter what you're carrying with you is generally on the hard modes, like playing Legendary co-op mode, where winning largely comes down to memorizing the levels and enemy spawn points and refining your teamwork to the point that you can pull fights off without taking damage. Playing through Halo 2, for example, the plan for facing elites was generally always the same - one of us took plasma pistol to pop the shields and draw fire before diving back for cover, the other had battle rifle and would pop out of cover to lay down a headshot. To handle the other threats, one of us carried a sniper rifle, the other had a rocket launcher. When we played through flood levels, meanwhile, we carried more kinetic weapons like shotguns, pistols, and SMGs, but ammo was generally more of a concern, so we split which types of weapons we were putting the hurt on ammo to make sure we always had some available in those really long stretches of constant flood waves. We had to rock-paper-scissors over who got to use up the limited shotgun ammo in flood maps, since there generally wasn't enough for both of us to use shotguns, and the loser had to content themselves to pistols or SMGs. If what we had wasn't what would carry us through that threat we faced, we'd wind up getting killed, and going back to the start of that wave, and having to scrounge some different weaponry to try a different strategy.

    So yes, there was definitely some strategic choice caused by ammo concerns in some games.

    In the first scenario, you can't apply your own logic, you have to adapt to the games own internal logic, and even when it covers the majority of the level, assuming a level of ignorance on the players part - the player never knows when the kind of boss encounter appears, it's a marathon and he needs to pace himself with ammo. of course, if you're going to need a rocket launcher, they usually make one readily available, but the player might want extra rockets. and again, it's the game's logic, nothing about human logic would say that there would be rocket launchers conveniently available. They might move the right weapons in, but you might be on the wrong side of the battlefield, or whatever was supposed to move it, was shot down.

    in the second scenario, you already know - AND you have 4 slots. even if you don't have 4 slots - it doesn't apply to what I was talking about. I need to apologize, I didn't consider the veterans playthroughs, and was only using the standpoint of a player new to the game. It's still the only viewpoint that matters for me as a rarely play through a game for the challenge, at least from start to finish. Sometimes I adapt the game.
    You're right, if you've played through once and you're playing on a higher dificulty, you can make an informed decision; But now it's a memory game for a lot of the game where some weapons are better against certain enemies, until there's a larger litteral range, and the efficiency of each weapon changes dramatically, and you have you have to decide whether to stick to a strength, or adapt, or find another weapon. But as I remember, there are a lot of close to mid range situations - but then again, I hardly remember a damn thing from halo. I'm not dismissing your point, I'm just saying these decisions are either too non-impactful to give them any merit, or are such obvious decisions that they're only the illusion of choice, and the best decisions are few and far between. I suppose that would be my opinion though, and some would struggle with these choices.

    It's hard to argue further on this point, when we can't know the others examples of strategy, tactics, and good decision-making, or what's a valid tactic, and just one that felt like it worked at the time, or one tactic that failed and immediately dismissed, though more practical. Plus it's not going to change my experience or make me play those boring games again, so I'm not even interested in dicussing further, so I'm just going to end it at that horrible final note.

  • Just going to bump this now. Steam's Autumn Sale means that Spec Ops: The Line is down to $15. If you want to wait out the whole sale, it is marginally possible that it will be reduced even further on some given day.

  • And the major plot twist is very clearly attempting to admonish the player for blindly following orders just because some seemingly authoritative dude showed up in the game world to lead you by the nose.

    It might be because I knew the spoiler when I encountered it, but I've never been able to buy that interpretation of Bioshock, because the game world mechanically compels you to obey regardless of your own awareness of the commands.

    I always saw Bioshock as more of a critique of "assumed participation," the idea that the player requires no actual story motivation to complete tasks because the fact that they are playing the game is sufficient proof that they want to complete them. Specifically, I think it's gunning for characters like Gordon Freeman in Half-Life 2 who have no meaningful reason to be doing any of the things they're doing, and the way they create a world where the player's primary goal is to look for someone to obey. Gordon's a civilian who has no reason to think he can fight a force that has defeated all the armies of the world, and it's not like in Half-Life where he's in a situation which immediately threatens his life, so why does he do any of it?

    To show this, they give you a standard silent protagonist and set you up in a situation where a normal person would just wait to be rescued. Because of your videogame training, you instead seek out someone to tell you what to do. The game then points out the artificiality of that unmotivated action, showing you what your "character" would logically be (a mentally compromised human robot). In doing so it's trying to make you see that the average silent protagonist character of the time was defined by obedience and ability to carry out orders effectively, not by bravery or heroism. It's a critique of lazy writing practices in the industry that make the "protagonist" nothing more than an extension of another character's will, not of something the player has no control over.

  • it's the first shooter to do this kind of thing.

    To be honest, I really don't want to beat a dead horse or something of the equivalent here, but SO:TL just nags me :/

    For all it's praise about the dark narratives and how it relates to your concept of choice and morality, there was another FPS game that did it (imo: much more briliantly) 2 years ago before SO:TL came out, Metro 2033.

    Thurot posted a VERY thorough investigation about Metro 2033's narrative and I think that is one review which gave it justice. Heck, it even made a reference to SO:TL, and I agree with everything he posted.
    http://thurot.com/2012/09/06/metro-2033 ... #more-2114

    When I watched EC's video about SO:TL it amused me that the way they described it was also they same way I described Metro 2033 after I completed it thoroughly. Have you guys ever tried approaching Metro 2033 the way you approached SO:TL?

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