Rules of Engagement: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD, PROCEED WITH CAUTION!AGAIN, PROCEED WITH CAUTION
How do the snipers from when you "have" to choose to kill either the soldier or the civilian (or shoot the ropes) manage to injure your teammates if they're imaginary? I could understand it if it happened to Walker (since it's his delusion), but Adams got incapacitated by them when I shot the ropes, so yeah.
To elaborate: if Adams or Lugo is downed in the fight, which is pretty likely, they will recover instantly after you finish the snipers off. Nowhere else in the game does this occur. If they're injured in any other fight and it finishes, you'll have to revive them.
The ending shows that Walker was standing there for a great deal of time when he came up to the bodies and Lugo and Adams were asking him to snap out of his day dream. Walker's delusions are very powerful, any inconsistency with his team mates can be chalked up to him imagining bad things happening to them. Either that or Adams is just lucky.
Or consider this, the snipers were part of the "friendly" half of the 33rd(the ones who hang their flags upside down) and they took the shooting as hostile because they would assume that you are firing at them as who would shoot at a corpse?
OK so the ending reveals that the real Colonel Konrad was dead before Walker ever even arrived in Dubai. Who was commanding the 33rd Battalion then? Walker encounters soldiers that talk about the man as if he were still alive and still in command and Adams and Lugo interact with these men so they can't have been imaginary. Surely someone realized that their commander was dead and stumbled across his corpse?
While it does stretch credibility that they kept going this long, one of the intel items reveals that Konrad left standing orders to maintain peace at all cost. Presumably he ordered the 33rd to keep doing whatever they were doing and defending his tower in the hopes that his distress signal would be picked up before the 33rd realized he was dead. Unfortunately, he didn't count on Walker and Delta screwing things up.
So? If you're a CO and you die, you don't get to leave your unit a bunch orders that they're now obligated to follow until the end of time. The second Konrad died, the 33rd was only obligated to follow the orders from either the chain of command or from the new highest ranking officer in the unit.
Also, all the dialogue of 33rd soldiers regarding Konrad is very ambiguous; at no point do they refer to him in the present tense or talk directly about him still being actively in command. It's entirely possible they all know he's dead, but are carrying on with his final orders (remember, the troops you face throughout the game are the 1/2th of the 33rd that were most loyal and devoted to Konrad). Noteably, a 33rd soldier the group interrogates gets knocked out by Walker before he can react to Walker's statements indicating that he believes Konrad is still alive.
Why is Walker the only one who suffers from delusions, why not Lugo or Adams? How often and how likely is it that someone is realistically going to suffer from dissociative personality disorder, and especially of such a sort that produces such vivid hallucinations?
Walker was probably already traumatized by the Kabul incident and the white phosphorous incident was the last straw that pushed him off the deep end. The latter question can be answered by the MST3K Mantra.
Or, more pointedly, who says they didn't?
"If Lugo was alive, he'd have PTSD. So, really, he's the lucky one."
Walker was the commanding officer - almost every bad thing that happens in the game is the direct result of his instructions, whereas Lugo and Adams can presumably explain away their complicity in his crimes by claiming that they were Just Following Orders. In particular, Lugo tries to persuade Walker not to launch the white phosphorous immediately before he does so: in his view, the incident is entirely Walker's fault, not his. This might also help to explain why Adams and Lugo keep following Walker's orders even as it becomes increasingly clear he's mentally unstable - a major theme of the game is people being unwilling to accept the consequences of their actions and instead rationalizing their actions as being someone else's fault. Just as Walker blames every bad thing he does on Konrad because he was "forced" to (indeed, just as the player might hypothetically blame every bad thing they do on the developers), Adams and Lugo can blame every bad thing they do on Walker ordering them to, but only so long as they remain under his command. If they abandon Walker and elect to leave Dubai on their own, everything they do after that is on their heads, a possibility they're not willing to consider.
Also, this is hinted at as early as the White Phosphorus Scene, when Walker is the only one not to freak out and start shouting, which would be the normal, natural thing to do. This proves that, unlike Lugo and Adams, he likes to suppress these emotions, and this adds a lot to his own psychosis as the ending rolls around.
Why did Riggs say that if the Middle East declared war on the United States that we would lose? I seriously doubt that they could defeat the American Military. Maybe if Russia or China got involved we would probably lose, but what interest would they have in Dubai? It seems rather absurd to me that a war would want to be started over a rouge Colonel's actions. First of all Colonel Konrad was trying to help the people of Dubai and his failure to save certain people was an accident, he had good intentions at heart. Secondly any nefarious deeds that Riggs felt were necessary to cover up could easily be counted out in the international community as the actions of a Colonel who went AWOL. The whole war business seems improbable both in the sense that we would lose and that there would even be justification for war in the first place.
My guess is that Riggs and the CIA believed that China and/or Russia would get involved in such a conflict, hence the belief that the US would lose. As for what would provoke it, the only explanation I can think of would be that because of the Colonel's apparent war crimes, anti-American beliefs could be "justified" as correct and blown out of proportions by Middle Eastern regimes such as Iran, which would lead to regional outrage and conflict.
Maybe that's the point, original poster. One of the major themes of the game is how people can take on altruistic projects but not understand their own motives for doing so, and how this lack of understanding can lead to the degeneration of the original project into folly and tragedy. John Konrad ostensibly led the 33rd into Dubai to organize the evacuation, but some ingame intel suggests his underlying motive was to bolster his reputation after his failures in Afghanistan. Walker had at least three different goals (find and save the 33rd, save the surviving civilians of Dubai, kill Konrad), but the game makes it crystal clear that all these goals were chosen by Walker's need to prove himself a hero. In both cases their desires led both Konrad and Walker to embark on projects they were in no way prepared to successfully carry out, resulting in stopgap measures, overreactions, and death. I view Riggs, Gould, and the rest of the CIA team through a similar lens. They claim their actions were necessary to prevent a general war in the Middle East, but their fundamental goal was to prevent America from looking bad on the world stage. They might have been able to achieve that if they had simply broadcast to the world what happened in Dubai and arranged a relief effort, but they overreacted, assumed the worst at every turn, never conferred with anyone but themselves, and decided the best course of action was to incite the 33rd and the remaining civilians to destroy each other. When that failed, they killed the city. Riggs was far more lucid that either Walker or Konrad, but he was just as delusional about his motives.
Imagine what would happen if "the truth got out". US would stand without allies, even UK and Canada would abandon it, and probably would have civil unrest of their own, with people protesting against actions of their government. Some of the more... Radical organizations would probably launch terror attacks on US, all leading to chaos, in which fighting any war would be next to impossible. Especially since after Dubai all of US actions would be looked upon very carefully be international community, and the slightest hint of not playing exactly by the rules (no war is ever played by the rules, mostly just "close enough") would bring even more trouble.
Half-n-Half, really, but a good idea of what the CIA team thought they were facing. For one, it's again worth noting that until the CIA cell came up with their "brilliant" plan and arguably well afterwards, none of it could be *directly* tied as the responsibility of the US government, as opposed to the actions of A: a deranged Colonel and his unit, B: a group of militant and unruly "civilians", and C: a CIA team waaaaaayy off it's rocker and out of its' mission boundary, (and for that matter, D: a Delta Force squad commander who went insane) all of whom had been isolated in that hell without contact to the outside world for quite some time. It would trigger an unholy hell and the US would at best come off as looking inept and at worst come off looking as nightmarish stupid, but crucially not actually *guilty* if you look at the truth and the whole truth. Certainly, it's safe to say the Middle East would erupt fairly horribly even if the governments of the Sunni Gulf Sheikhdoms try to brush everything under the rug, but longstanding Western allies like the UK and Canada (and even France and Germany) would not be hamstrung by having as quite a volatile population as the ME does. Distancing and condemnations would be inevitable, but the US, French, and British all have done worse. That said, it'd still be deeply cold comfort because having a Middle East united against you if only by the consensus that you need to die would not be an enviable position.
Futhermore, in the context of a US vs Middle East war "lose" doesn't necessarily mean the latter invades and occupies the former. Inflicting severe casualties on the US military, making it a living hell for the US mainland via oil embargo and terror attacks, and/or forcing the United States to a humiliating peace deal could all easily constitute as a loss and would be within the capability of a united Middle East. War is expensive, but if the chaos in Dubai really did stir the requisite amount of hatred amongst the rest of the region then they would be willing to pay that price... and the US wouldn't. And that is even before adding the already mentioned possibility of intervention from third-parties like China and/or Russia.
The chances of a Middle East actually uniting like we would say NATO or even the Western Allies are is difficult given the massive Iran-Gulf Cold War, so there'd likely be no actual Grand Alliance going after the West or even the US alone so much as a literal horde of individual countries and parties going after each other as much as against themselves. The result would be nightmarish and lead to an embargo and terrorist attacks up the wazoo, but the chance of an actual surrender are minimal particularly if the evidence Walker has on him detailing the murderously callous disregard by the UAE and probably the other Gulf States by extension might be enough to prevent the Saudi bloc from breaking with the US and the West for threat of exposure.
Even if the possibility of various nations in the Middle East uniting against the US and the former defeating the latter in a military context is a remote one, this troper doesn't believe that that means the CIA nevertheless taking preventative measures to avoid that happening is that implausible. It's by no means the first time in US history that the nation has used the threat of some decidedly unlikely possible negative outcome of events in order to justify some rather morally questionable actions in foreign nations. Think about it: is "we have to kill the survivors of the Dubai sandstorm or else several Middle Eastern nations will band together and declare war on us" that much more ridiculous a proposition than "we have to intervene in Vietnam, because if one country falls to communism, then the surrounding countries will do likewise in a kind of domino effect"? What's more, the US military killed far more civilians in Vietnam than the CIA was intending to in Dubai according to various estimates. All things considered, it doesn't strike the troper as that far-fetched a clandestine operation.
I agree with your overall point, but the Vietnam War/Indochinese Wars aren't the right place to mention that, or at least ye olde domino theory. The reason we thought not intervening in Vietnam would lead to the domino effect was *because* the Communist factions had already begun expanding throughout the Japanese occupation onward, had already created extensive infrastructures in theoretically neutral countries (Cough Cambodia Cough). And when Vietnam was withdrawn from, that is more or less exactly what happened with South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia following in quick succession. And technically, regarding the killing of civilians in Vietnam, this was *usually* far different than what happened in Dubai. Most of the civilian casualties in Vietnam by the Allies were- to put it bluntly- "the price of doing business." Which is why while they were massively controversial nobody got arraigned on war crimes except those that actually went beyond collateral damage. Dubai is plotting to massacre an entire greater urban population center and the population of refugees within, which is an entire order of magnitude worse because it shows malice afterthought. I agree with the overall points, but just nitpicking a bit.
Maybe Riggs (and/or his superiors) just convinced themselves of it so they would have a mission and by accomplishing it be something they were not: heroes.
The CIA operatives are just as misguided and insane as every other faction in Dubai. They've convinced themselves of this story, and they convince Walker too, but that doesn't mean it makes sense. The "murder everyone" plan is just the last step on their long Walk (get it?) away from their original orders, which were probably something along the lines of "figure out what happened and get our people out of there." Writing their own history where they save America from some unlikely super-alliance ties right into the main themes of the game.
Furthermore, Intel found in-game says that Daniels (one of the CIA operatives) was sent to tell the CIA HQ at Langley what was going on. The same intel says he hasn't reported back. Daniels is ALSO the CIA operative who was captured and tortured by the 33rd. And to top the cake, you know who else thought Riggs was insane? Gould, his own team mate. Riggs was not seen as a sane man even by his own operations group, but in the same way that Lugo and Adams followed Walker even as his mental state obviously began to slip, Gould and Castavain stuck with him until the bitter end, determined to complete a mission who's point they had forgotten long ago.
Wiping out the entire population of Dubai was almost certainly not the CIA's original mission. Daniels confessed, under interrogation, that they were sent there to look for survivors, and the interrogator believed that he was telling the truth. Riggs took matters into his own hands, just like Walker.
Is it really realistic that Dubai wasn't successfully evacuated since the sand storm destroyed the city? America has had a long history of coming to the aid of other countries, we helped rebuild Europe and Japan after World War II for example, and that example is followed by the presence of U.S soldiers like Walker in Dubai. That isn't even talking about other countries: The Arab countries don't care about Dubai? Europe doesn't care? Asia? Even without the help of those other countries what prevented men like Colonel Konrad from successfully getting those people out of there?
Good question, but regarding the Emirati government, there's at least an explanation for possible resistance to the idea that would have helped cause the evacuation plan to fail. Namely: they are fanatically determined to make Dubai pay off however they can, and the sandstorm coupled with the evacuation would in essence force them to write off the entire project as the failure most people already make of it. Naturally, this would not have gone down well, and even if they did eventually come around the sheer inertia getting there would have caused problems.... and by extension nicely tying into the themes of "Projects going overboad in creative and horrible ways" and "taking Altruistic projects without knowing the motives one has for taking it in the first place." Consider their extreme reaction to the game just for showing a ruined Dubai about just how irrationally protective they are the city.
Why would destroying the tanker trucks doom the survivors to die of dehydration? The largest tanker trucks only carry 35,000 liters, and there are 5,000 survivors. Even if they only drink a liter per day (probably not enough to survive in Dubaď), there was only enough water in the trucks for two weeks. Seems to me the survivors were doomed either way.
It buys time until they can find another water source or help arrives. No matter how futile it may seem people are desperate when it comes to holding onto their lives, I would imagine they would prefer to fight as hard as they can to survive rather than just roll over and die.
Walker finds Konrad in the tallest building in Dubai with a massive water fountain that is still operational right outside its front doorstep. Did no one find this water source and think to use it to survive? Even if the water in the fountain isn't drinkable there have to be pipes leading to a water source.
If you look carefully after you decide whether or not to shoot "Konrad" (this is especially noticeable in the ending where you let him shoot you), you'll see that the tower is actually in an advanced state of disrepair (the pool is filled with sand, the glass is opaque and cracked, etc.). Presumably that entire sequence was an hallucination and all the water is long gone.
By some interpretations, the entire game is a hallucination, so any obvious "outs" are almost certainly wrong. Walker expects the psuedo-Burj to be luxurious, so that's what he sees.
This is probably only a minor issue but why does the fake Konrad use the term "we" and why does Walker say "you" when referring to one another? Walker is technically talking to himself as the fake Konrad is an extension of his own personality, there is no we (the both of them) or you (Konrad as an individual). Is his mind so damaged that the line between reality and his own personal fiction began to blur, or did he just think it would be weird to say, "You're wrong me! I'm a totally stable individual, zombie Konrad over there is only taking a nap! When he wakes up you and me can confront him."
Disassociation. The shadow of Konrad is making it gradually more and more clear to Walker that he is part of his mind as the fiction that he built collapses, but Walker is still resisting the revelation. So the latter, basically. "I am so sane! You're the crazy one, mental construct of Konrad - you made me do all the bad things! ...Despite you actually being dead for six months. Oh, shit."
I know that Walker was psychologically damaged and that he needed to project his guilt onto someone; but why Konrad? I thought that Konrad had been his commander and his friend once? Also didn't Konrad save Walker's life in Afghanistan? Why choose a guy you liked to become your own personal villain? Why not choose some random evil person from a fictional story or even some bad guy from real life?
Because, to Walker, Konrad is the greatest hero he knows. And for Walker to be an even better hero, Konrad has to fall. Specifically he has to be dragged down to the levels of insanity and violence that Walker is at instead of Walker working up to the heroism of Konrad.
One of Walker's hallucinations supports this; when Walker talks about how much respect he has for Konrad for saving his life, fake radio Konrad says that alone isn't nearly enough to warrant respect, because he's saved others (I took this as blurring the line between what we usually chalk up to heroics and what a soldier is simply "supposed" to do, in this case, "leave no man behind,") and has killed more than he's ever saved by simple virtue of his job. Walker is bringing Konrad down to his level from very early on.
As a man Walker respects, Konrad is the perfect choice for him to demonize to fill his need for a villain. Betrayal hurts. Konrad turning out to be (in Walker's head, at least) a phony who is unworthy of respect and is capable of immense evil hits Walker very close to home, far more than some random bad guy, real or imagined, would. Thus, Walker is free to respond with such severity without ever questioning how justified it is.
Walker is still reeling from the white phosphorous attack when the team comes across the bodies of Konrad's executed commanders. Since his psyche really needs to unload the guilt ASAP, he probably went "oh wait the dude offed his own men! He must be more evil! Yes, he's the villain, not me!"
So Walker's need to be the "hero"; is that a conscious thing or a subconscious thing? At any point in his life did Walker really think to himself, "I wanna be a great hero, and maybe I should role play that scenario one day." If it really is a subconscious thing then why does Walker's mind think that it is healthy for him to be hallucinating all these elaborate scenarios? I'm no psychology expert but it just seems strange that a mind would do something like that as a defense mechanism to protect yourself from all the guilt and trauma. What happened to good old fashioned PTSD?
It's probably not quite that Walker wants to be a "hero", so much as he wants to believe what he's done can be morally justified, or that it was not his fault - he was driven to it by the extreme circumstances. Think "hero" in the sense of a good, sane person who does good things whenever possible and tries to make the best of even the worst situation, in contrast to a "villain" (or a madman). Villains and madmen launch WP mortar rounds at civilians, massacre US soldiers, lead their subordinates to their deaths and condemn a city of desperate innocents to die slowly of thirst. If heroes do those things, it's because they were forced or tricked by villains - definitely never because they made bad calls and ill-informed mistakes! As for what a healthy mind does to defend itself, I don't think Walker's mind was healthy even at the beginning of the game. What's clear, though, is that at the moment Walker realized what his order had led to, his defenses kicked into overdrive, pushed all the fault onto Konrad and continued to do that until they became exhausted and collapsed. From the moment those defenses became necessary, however, Walker's mind was no longer healthy. Functional, semi-logical, running on a rigid temporary framework, but warping more and more under the strain until it was unrecognizable, no longer functional.
He's not really talking to Walker at that point, he's talking to you, the player. It's less a condemnation of Walker as a character and more one of Walker as a puppet, and you by extension.
One could examine the broader implications of Walker wanting to be a hero by way of reference to the game's brutal deconstruction of America Saves the Day. All his life, Walker has believed in an idealistic vision of the US as the world's protector - when people in foreign nations are in trouble, America steps in to rescue them. Notably, he was previously deployed in Afghanistan: his combat experience prior to Dubai was as part of a military operation ostensibly meant to overthrow a corrupt, oppressive regime. The events in Dubai force him to revise his position and consider the possibility that American military intervention isn't always a good thing, and that the Americans aren't always the heroes.
I took Walker as not so much wanting to be a hero, but rather feeling indebted to Konrad after he saved his life in Afghanistan and wanting to return the favor. Walker elevates Konrad to a higher status then Konrad himself believes he deserves and that's really what sets things in motion. Konrad was the main reason he went into Dubai in the first place, so it makes sense for Walker to blame Konrad for his own actions and try to justify them due to having good intentions for coming to Dubai.
How long does the game take place? I just got through playing it again and it didn't seem like night came around until the very end of the game. It seems very strange that so much could happen in a single day.
It's possible that Walker's perception of time isn't totally reliable (since his perception of reality sure isn't). He does get knocked out at least twice and there are cuts that suggest time passing.
There are several points where its implied a long time has passed (whenever Walker gets knocked out, when they bunker down in that tube during a sandstorm, and when Lugo dies), really the ending being at night seems to be more stylistic than anything else.
Delta Force steals the water in the middle of the night. After the trucks crash the next mission is the following morning. This troper would estimate 3-4 days in total.
It's hard to say, but there seem to be two days and two nights at a minimum. Since we lose some time due to cuts, it could be longer.
Those bars that measure your proficiency with different kinds of weapons. Does anything interesting happen when they fill up?
You get an XBox/PS3/Steam Achievement?
You are super proficient! Heroes are super proficient! Don't you feel like a hero now?
How is Walker supposed to explain what happened in Dubai to the authorities when he gets home to America (should you have chosen that ending)? Is he gonna say, "I went crazy and my conscience personified itself in the shape of, the now dead, Colonel Konrad and manipulated me in such a way that I hallucinated him to be a villain that I needed to stop. My mind tried to cope with the evils that occurred in Dubai by fashioning myself as the hero." How is he supposed to explain any of it in a way that won't get him thrown in the looney bin? My mind enjoys overly elaborate symbolism isn't a very good defense in a court room.
I'm pretty sure he's going to get institutionalized regardless - probably declared unfit to be tried. Look at the guy. Such situations aren't unprecedented.
The dude has "unfit for trial" written all over him when he is found, he is clearly in the very least heavily disturbed by the events in Dubai and he clearly has severe PTSD ("Who says I did!" indeed) He'll probably spend years in various mental health establishments.
I'm not saying that he won't be put into some sort of mental help institution but he clearly has enough of a grasp on reality that he can say what happened in Dubai. "I would like the Court to know that Colonel Konrad, under his own direction, decided to keep the Battalion in his command in Dubai and attempted an evacuation. When that failed anarchy occurred in Dubai and the CIA tried to cover the affair up." The court may think he's crazy for imagining Colonel Konrad to still be alive but the evidence of everything that happened there will corroborate with Walker's story.
The government'l probably be happy he seems crazy then, no way for the true story of what happened to come out (and be believed), they really wont want it to be revealed that the CIA is directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of refugees. They also already knew what was going on in Dubai (in the very least they knew enough to send in the CIA in the first place).
He won't because he can't. Among other interesting things, the writer stated that any time there's a flash of white/fade to white (dying while fighting Lugo Heavy, seeing the burning and fractured statues while walking up the escalator to the mall, etc.), Walker is deluding himself/hallucinating. That happens when you pick that ending. He never goes home.
Delusions and hallucinations aren't the same thing, though, and while Walker's meeting with the rescue squad ends in white, the conversation he has with the other soldier while in the jeep fades to black. Perhaps the "delusion" at that point was something to do with him being dressed in Konrad's clothes. The coloured scene breaks really aren't specific enough to pinpoint anything.
What exactly are the heavy troopers? I understand the Acceptable Breaks from Reality to a point, but the game otherwise seems fairly realistic about it's depictions of armor and weaponry to suddenly have semi-invincible behemoths marching around. Did the 33rd start throwing together 7 foot tall suits of power armor?
The Heavy Troopers may not even really exist, its notable that most of the times they show up its in the middle of hallucinations and other times where Walker is mentally not there.
I'll answer this by posing a question: How many shooters can you think of that have "heavy" enemies in them? Virtually all of them. If we look at the story from the perspective of Walker having a psychotic breakdown and him hallucinating the world from the perspective of him being the "hero" of the story, then Walker may very well be subconsciously thinking of himself as a video game action hero. An action hero from a game like Uncharted or Gears of War would eventually run into a heavy enemy that can tank rounds that would kill other enemies outright; the fantasy wouldn't be complete without the heavy!
If we accept that heavy troopers actually exist within the game and not merely in Walker's head, the first time the player encounters them (at least on normal difficulty) is in chapter 7, "The Battle", when the 33rd deploys white phosphorous: the first heavy trooper walks through the phosphorous smoke and appears entirely unharmed by it. Perhaps the heavy's armour is a kind of hazmat suit meant for soldiers handling or using chemical weapons or other dangerous materials (like a bomb disposal suit, but for combat situations). Makes a lot of sense since the 33rd were originally deployed in Afghanistan, and probably had to deal with IEDs on a regular basis (and even possibly dispose of them while being fired upon). Compare real military bomb disposal suits◊ with the heavy troopers' armour◊.
What was it with the radioman and how does he fits into the story? In one of the Intels is said he did it for the art, because even though Dubai was a hell hole people still made art, but what did he do? Just play music? And why did Lugo killed him?
The Radioman is partly a reference to the Photojournalist from Apocalypse Now, but he serves other purposes. He delivers source music because source music is awesome, acts as a mouthpiece for the devs (and Konrad when Konrad can't because he's dead), and in general serves as the Greek Chorus of Dubai - the man telling everyone present what's going on and how to feel about it all, but detached from events. He adds to the surrealist atmosphere of the game because he's out of place; a jocular and loudmouthed American in a city of deadly serious soldiers and terrified Middle-Eastern civilians. His motives originally were to keep hope alive when there are no supplies and no rescue coming, by keeping up the pretence of a sane world. Music doesn't keep humans alive, but it reminds them that they're human, and he probably thought that would help the civilians and the 33rd avoid giving in to savagery or despair. As for Lugo killing him, Lugo explains it right there - the Radioman would probably have called in the 33rd as soon as the Delta Squad turned their backs. But it also illustrates that Lugo, too, is losing his grip on what's right and wrong.
It isn't uncommon to see hallucinations in fiction, but are they really that vivid in real life? I mean let us say I was the one that was hallucinating Konrad, would it really look, sound, and feel as if the man was actually standing right in front of me?
Basically, how long is a piece of string? It depends upon the person, the circumstances, whatever outside influence they have, the nature of their psychosis, where the hallucination originates and what its purpose is. Yes, they can be that vivid. Probably not that coherent, exactly. They don't always manifest as a figure with consistent logic or motivation, as Konrad does (i.e. Walker picks up radio = hearing Konrad's voice through radio = finding Konrad in person in the tower as Walker's self-loathing and guilt); that's a fiction thing, but part of it is being in a mental state that makes you more likely to accept such illogical things. It's difficult to quantify hallucinations because by definition, only a single person will ever perceive a specific one and their description of it might not be reliable. Once a person recovers from the hallucinatory episode, they might not even be able to remember or coherently describe what they perceived just because they're no longer in that state of mind. If you want more information (although you're unlikely to find a definitive answer because the human brain is the weirdest organ), research - especially PTSD and flashbacks. It's interesting, sad stuff.
Hallucinations are often described as not particularly vivid. Dreams are more vivid due to having a contained environment. The issue with both is an altered state of mind. A strong hallucination won't really mesh with a dynamic environment(i.e. not sleeping or dreaming). A series of vivid images, appearing in flashes, might be what a hallucinater actually sees. But in that altered state of mind, the individual will fixate on those images, tune out real life, and fill in the blanks of those images to get a semi-coherent event/series of events. Essentially, they'll just have a "go with a flow" mindset and be convinced that something is happening even if the hallucinations don't provide that much evidence. It's like hypnosis. So Walker shouldn't actually see Konrad moving and interacting, but he'll understand those actions to be happening more than what's actually happening around him.
The above is correct - atrophine-like "true" hallucinations are far more "feelings", not at all like watching a movie, and when they are visual/audio its more your brain grasping at straws recognizing patterns. In short, hallucinating a voice from radio static is realistic, hallucinating a opulent penthouse from ruins is pure fiction.
And now for quite possibly the biggest Headscratcher of all: how the hell did the Radioman get access to marijuana (he's clearly holding a joint when Delta meets him)? Isn't Dubai really strict about that sort of thing?
Drugs hard to get =/= not being able to obtain drugs.
Especially since the guy entered the country right from Afghanistan which is a country that has almost as big a drug trafficking problem as Mexico. Most of it is heroin but there are other drugs there too and he could have gotten it there.
The strict drug and alcohol prohibitions in much of the middle east (especially UAE and Saudi) pretty much don't apply to westerners as long as you don't do it in public or try to go through customs with it. The Saudi Morality Police don't do surprise inspections of foreign workers' houses.
Dubai has also long been abandoned by the UAE government when that scene occurs. It doesn't matter how many laws about pot you have on the books if no one's around to enforce them.
How does Walker have the strength to break those mannequins (human shaped dolls) with just a single whack of his gun? I'm sure that even a man of Walker's background as a Delta Force operator couldn't possibly have the strength required to break thick plastic like that in one strike, especially since the force required to do that would almost certainly harm his gun. Is Walker imagining this or is he really that strong?
Should you let Konrad shoot you then Walker is seen slumped over dead in front of Konrad's corpse. If you choose to shoot Konrad then the still-alive Walker is standing behind Konrad's corpse. You mean to tell me that Walker in a trance went through the effort of walking over to Konrad's corpse and then shot himself? Couldn't he have shot himself behind Konrad if that is where the hallucination began?
In any case we see Walker approach the chair from behind, pick up the gun, and then take a few steps forward as the final mirror scene takes place. Then, when he dies, he drops backwards to the left of the screen. Maybe he wouldn't come to rest exactly where he did, but rather close.
Why was Walker's team sent into Dubai in the first place? Presumably the CIA knew about Delta's mission since Gould can fire off Walker's name, unit and "I know a lot of things, Captain". So why didn't they make the effort to try and stop them before the Delta's mission was even launched and the orders handed down? Their job was to save survivors, the CIA's was to stop the truth getting out, but the CIA knew why Delta was there before Walker even made contact with them which presumably means they were given the files on Walker's team as well as their mission objectives. Didn't somebody back in the States go "Err, yeah, don't send that team in. We're doing our own stuff here".
The United States Government probably thought it would be too suspicious not to send in a search team. Remember that the 33rd Battalion were not only highly trained soldiers but they had families too, you don't leave 1500 American soldiers and their Colonel in a hell hole for 6 months and not expect a massive backlash back home to bring them back. I'm surprised to be honest that the game doesn't take place weeks or at most a couple of months after the sandstorm, 6 months of waiting would be a PR disaster in real life. Sending in a search team would be an inevitability in order to appease this backlash. Presumably the CIA would be ordered to misdirect Walker and his team and then send them back home with themselves, thus being able to tell the American people, "Sorry, we tried, but the Colonel and his Battalion are dead."
Just because the CIA IN Dubai have decided their job is to murder everyone and keep it secret doesn't mean that was their original mission. Walker's team got sent through the wall to see if ANYONE was still alive in Dubai, and then they were supposed to leave and report back. You break your orders almost immediately at the start of the game, just like every other American in Dubai. Walker's team probably got sent in after the Grey Fox team didn't report back in time.
Doesn't Walker tell Adams and Lugo at the start they're in Dubai illegally and breaking the UAE's no man's land order?
Why didn't Walker order Adams to land the helicopter until the sand storm subsided? I know they were under enemy fire but their chances would have been better if they could have landed on solid ground and then tried flying out of there once the storm stopped.
Walker's on the cusp of a complete psychotic breakdown. He's not making logical decisions. Indeed, it's entirely possible that by this stage of the game he's so wracked with repressed guilt he's become a Death Seeker.
I know Colonel Konrad going insane and his personal army following his orders with extreme loyalty is supposed to be a homage to Colonel Kurtz's insanity from Apocalypse Now, but the way Walker and his team so callously and without a second thought kills all these American troops seems odd to me. With Colonel Kurtz Captain Willard at the very least was given explicit orders to terminate Kurtz's command (which entailed assassinating the Colonel and then calling an airstrike on his base), but Walker's orders were to rescue the Colonel and the 33rd. I can understand defending yourself once shot at but the moment Walker started shooting fellow Americans he should have called in for help immediately; terminating Konrad's command was explicitly outside the jurisdiction of his mission.
They're fighting for their lives and deeply disturbed at being forced to kill members of the 33rd in self-defence, actually. The whole team reacts with shock, horror and confusion; their entire attitudes change. Now, Walker's orders were to investigate, look for survivors and call in back up. Exact words. Nothing about rescuing the 33rd or attacking them. What drags Walker in venturing further into the city is first trying to figure out what on earth has happened to the 33rd to make them to way they are now, then seeing them kill/torture members of the CIA and herd civilians around like cattle under the apparent tyranny of Konrad. Walker abandons his orders, at first (he thinks) because he wants to save people and then because he went insane. The orders cease to be relevant in the face of Walker's delusion. In The Line, unlike almost any other military themed shooter, it turns out that when one soldier charges into a warzone with only vague preparation, ignores his orders and begins killing people, he is in the wrong and probably verging on psychosis - just as he likely would be in reality.
Actually, The Line is unlike almost every other military themed shooter ever in that in the other ones you aren't ignoring your orders and you usually have non-hallucinated reasons to be killing these people and the wars are started by the decisions of people not the player. So, while SOTL does indeed entirely prove the above point — that blindly charging into somewhere and killing job lots of people entirely on your own initiative is the act of a crazy man — other shooters were never really disputing this point. That's why they put so much effort into creating in-story justifications: they knew they were necessary to avoid being stories about psychopaths. Its not necessary to slag on other shooters unjustifiably to build up this one.
All right, bad argument, mea culpa. I still believe the rest of it stands. The Delta Squad do react with horror to killing Americans. Later, it's proven that nothing they did is truly justified. Walker constructed a delusion to make destroying people okay and he was insane. But why do shooters exist? So the player may shoot people. The plot is all an elaborate justification for the player shooting people. Soldiers rarely construct massive operations solely to kill people - kills occur, but they're the means, not the end. The end is to make things better; protecting people, preserving security, putting down dangers, so on. But games are constructed differently. Instead of the endpoint being defence and necessity, it's death; defence and necessity are invented as excuses. Games are developed - shooters are developed - with the hope that people will enjoy shooting people. All sorts of dressing is added to ensure that the player won't feel bad about it, but ultimately that is what they're for. The Line took it to an extreme in making the player character carry the shooter mindset into the real world, and break trying to enforce it. The player is, of course, nowhere near that point, but isn't it worth thinking about? Can you think of a recent release that does not involve death or murder in any way, whatsoever? Is that not a little bit disquieting?
Every video game is a sick, twisted orgy of gore, terror, and death, churned out by disgusting, vile sub-humans, and made for them. Portal 2 has the chance of Chell dying and committing violence on turrets and robots. What a sicko.Pokémon got another release - little children compete in bloodsports! Dead Space 3 has you fighting against a sickening parasite that twists its victims into mindless flesh-eating creatures - you killed them in defense? Murderer! Ni No Kuni features you beating up monsters, and your player character's mom dies as a direct result of his actions! Rayman's got another release, and he punches out enemies! Hell, one of the first video games involved two ships duking it out, and another game had you fly simplistic missiles into simplistic targets. And "defence and necessity" has existed in shooters, and games outside of them - Modern Warfare 2 involves destroying AA guns explicitly targeting civilian evacuation choppers and pushing out a Russian invasion (it's on screen, so we're not told this by hallucinatory commanders), Half-Life 2: Episode One has you escorting bands of civilians, and if you're not vigilante, the enemies will kill them, and you will fail. Again, this is on screen, so there is no chance of "if it's offscreen, it can't possibly be real". This isn't a psychotic monster egged on by an uncaring player. Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker has you fight to avoid open nuclear warfare - you will get blasted off the face of the Earth if you can't destroy the last boss, and surprisingly enough, despite the last boss being a literal AI, it's not just another faceless brown person that you're evil for shooting. The old Rainbow Six games explicitly had hostages die on-screen if you didn't act fast enough, and leaving bombs planted in civilian structures would cause mission failures. Movies and literature have made up excuses for centuries to have the hero or heroine that the audience views through do things, and when it comes to video games, somehow, it's a reprehensible act.
Journey is a game where you form bonds with players though you know neither their names nor voice. In Myst, you complete puzzles and harm no one. In Dear Esther, there aren't any enemies at all, or even antagonists. Every single defence of those examples you listed exists because the developers put it there to ensure the meat of the gameplay - shooting people - felt more "real". Books, poetry, television, films, music - all these have plenty of works that lack death as a plot element at all, let alone a central conceit. It's not that virtual violence is any more or less reprehensible than it is in any other medium. It's that it's all-pervading. Normal. Expected. I'm as much a "vile, disgusting sub-human" as anyone - you think I picked up The Apocalypse Ain't Got Nothin' in Fallout New Vegas through diplomacy? I'm not saying "burn all violent games", and I doubt somewhat that Yager is, either. I'm just saying maybe the ubiquitous violence needs some closer consideration from those who consume it.
Some of us would say that slagging on modern military shooter games is the entire point of Spec Ops. The White Phosphorus scene is a direct attack on the AC-130 level from Modern Warfare. Those games and their kin glamorize war and soldiers in a way that is fundamentally unhealthy. The fact that it's fun is what's so disturbing about it. What was that loading screen: "Killing for yourself is murder. Killing for your country is heroic. Killing for entertainment is harmless." This game is SUPPOSED to make you uncomfortable.
Just out of curiosity is the sandstorm that ruins Dubai in the story possible? I can imagine the Middle East being composed of very arid desserts has sand storms occasionally (perhaps even often, not a weather expert), but I don't think I've heard any notable stories of a heavily populated city like Dubai being wiped off the map by an apocalyptic sand storm.
I don't think they've ever reached the level depicted in The Line. At least not on Earth. Sandstorms really do block roads and flight paths as well as asphyxiate the unprepared, but what makes the in-game sandstorm so spectacular is the extremely high-speed winds and how long it's hung around (it's usually hours rather than days, let alone months), combined with several characteristics of Dubai itself that make it vulnerable if its supplies are cut. They also spread disease and dry air. On the other hand, populated places have been utterly flattened due to unprecedented freak conditions in the past - cyclones, fires, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions. Dubai as it is in The Line probably isn't any more likely than America suffering a full-scale invasion, but it makes a cool setting.
As a consequence of Walker's potential Dead All Along status (a possible interpretation according to one developer) shouldn't Konrad's fate be brought into question? If Walker is in a dying dream then how can his interpretation of the Colonel's suicide be viewed as accurate to reality? Hell even in the event that Walker isn't in a dying dream his mind is so screwed up that the entire ending might not even be true.
Given the In Medias Res helicopter crash is near the end of the game, it's reasonable to assume that events procceded bassically the same, but without the hallucinations and personality changes. If that was the case, then chances are Walker used white phosphourus at the Gate, but pushed the guilt it caused aside and carried on. He realised Konrad was dead, but still attempted to help Riggs because he thought they were going to help people. This led him and Delta against the 33rd. After Riggs backstabbed him, Walker tried to use the Radioman's tower to order an evacuation, being forced to fight past the 33rd, who wanted vengance. After using the radio set to order an evac, Delta attmepted to escape via helicopter. This leads to the opening crash. Most of the game is Walker's life flashing before his eyes, present as How We Got Here. All the hallucination parts in the before the crash are either a series of small dying dreams counjured by a brain at death's door, or they're part of whatever personal hell Walker's in. Everything after the crash is his mental scars rushing to the fore, manifesting as the end of the mission he died trying to complete.
So apparently Konrad was a founding member of the Delta Force or at least one of its earliest operators. If this is true then how is he still in the U.S Military? Assuming that he was in his 20s back in 1977 when the Delta Force Unit was founded, and that the setting of the story is contemporary with our world then Konrad has been with the military for at least over 30 years if not closer to 40, making him a little old to still be active duty. A man of that importance would have more realistically become a General by now or have been retired so that someone below him could take over his position as Colonel. Also what is a Colonel doing operating as a battlefield commander well into his middle age (Konrad appears to be in his late 50s, early 60s at most)? I thought higher tier officers were usually off the battlefield.
Other than Walker mentioning Konrad saving his life in Kabul, there's nothing in the game that says Konrad was ever on a battlefield. Walker himself looks to be in his late 20s or 30s, so if the game takes place in 2012, the Kabul incident could have happend at nearly any point of The War on Terror. Presuming Kabul happend near the start of that, Konrad may have still been in active service back then, and retired to non-field work a few years later. As for his rank, one of the games intel items is a pysch report of Konrad, stating that he has multiple mental health issues. Perhaps he was never promoted higher than Colonel because of those.
Why do you have to either save Gould or the civilians? Why not both? There are only 3 or 4 Damned 33rd soldiers guarding them, and Walker and Co. would have probably been able to kill them in less than a second considering that Delta was in hiding and would have taken them by surprise. Instead, Walker just waits until the 33rd men kill one of the civvies and lead the others off. They could have just shot them all while Gould and the civilians were still close together. Presumably the civilians would have hit the dirt in the ensuing firefight and Gould would have crawled behind some cover. When the fight would have gotten over, everyone would still be alive, (though Gould may have died from his injuries anyway)
It seemed to me that they were playing it up for drama. As the Navy Seals proved back during that hostage incident with that civilian Captain in 2009 elite Special Forces teams could put down multiple targets in quick succession with ease. If they wait in the cutscene then this forces you the player to have to make a "moral choice" meaning that you'll blame the circumstances of instead of Walker's indecision that could have put a swift stop to the situation. Drama for the sake of drama.
Um, they were also in completely opposite directions from each other. Shoot the guys surrounding Gould, the civilians get shot. Shot the guys surrounding the civilians, Gould gets shot.
Eh, it didn't look like that to me. In the cutscene you can clearly see both the civilians and Gould in the same shot, and I judge them to be maybe 30 feet apart. Also, when they're torturing the woman, all 3 of the 33rd in the area are occupied either watching or participating in the torture. They're also all close together. Delta could have killed them all in seconds with no risk to the civilians.
There's a group of civilians around the corner who are executed as well. Those in the immediate area are not the only ones at risk.
For the epilogue ending where Walker goes home what kind of crimes would he be potentially charged with by a Military Tribunal? I know at the very least he could be charged with insubordination since he went way out of the perimeters of his mission by choosing to stop Konrad when he was supposed to radio in an evacuation first and foremost. The act of shooting civilians who are hostile to you seems somewhat justifiable to me, and not all jurisdictions consider the use of fire bombs as a war crime as it is still used by the U.S Military. The only thing that really seems to be in a more morally grey area is shooting fellow American troops, though the Military Justice System does make an exception when you shoot at them in order to prevent them from performing a war crime or they are trying to kill you. Or given the presence of the CIA implies the U.S Government wanted Dubai doomed, and since Walker is a Delta Force operator, part of a secretive unit, are they going to let him go and act like the whole incident never even existed?
Not fire-bombs. White phosphorous. It burns through things and causes incredibly painful death and agonising wounds on top of being poisonous. Use of it as a weapon is more or less a war-crime, though classification of it as a chemical weapon is going through some foofaraw. (Camouflage by producing smoke with it is legal, but you'd have to be blind to claim that's what Delta and the 33rd were doing.) There is debate, but the civilians that Walker hit were not hostile, and it doesn't matter what kind of bomb it was - civilians casualties were caused that could have been avoided, as a direct result of Walker disobeying his orders. Similarly, orders or no, the destruction of the water trucks - not as a means of cutting off the supplies of the 33rd, but deliberately to kill every single living person left within Dubai - is not excusable, especially since it's not clear where Riggs got his orders. But that's beside the point. Everything that happens in the game is morally dubious or just plain immoral. Legally is where it gets muddy. Don't confuse regulations and laws with ethics. And Walker is definitely unfit for trial anyway; whether or not he's "free", he'll be locked up as a danger to himself.
Why don't Walker's squad call him out on talking to a radio that never responds? He's clearly giving responses to Konrad on that walkie-talkie he finds, but Adams and Lugo obviously can't hear who he's responding to because Konrad is dead and Walker is hallucinating. Yet they never ask him who he's talking to, and never tell him that they can't hear the other end of the conversation. Why not?
Actually, they do; Walker just can't/won't hear them. And they grow more distrustful of Walker as the game continues, what with him muttering to himself, staring off into space and exclaiming at things that aren't there. Mostly Konrad speaks and Walker doesn't reply unless he's alone. Or, perhaps, Konrad speaks and Walker only thinks he replies aloud.
The very first time it happens can be forgiven, Lugo and Adams might have just assumed the radio was beaten up and that only Walker could hear it by straining his ears to listen carefully. Every other time we don't see Lugo or Adams' responses to Konrad because either — as the ending reveals — Walker was hallucinating and was unresponsive to what they were saying, or because Walker doesn't inquire about what the Shadow Konrad told him. No one assumed Konrad was dead, everyone from the CIA to the 33rd, and possibly even the Radio Man talked about the Colonel as if he were still alive. Walker, Lugo, and Adams had no reason to believe the man was dead and logically would not have jumped to the most drastic conclusion: Walker is out of his mind and Konrad isn't real.
Also, pay close attention to the final cutscene of chapter 13 (shortly after Lugo has been killed): Walker is promising Konrad that he's coming to kill him, but his lips are clearly not moving. It is reasonable to conclude from this that for many of the occasions in the game in which Walker is Konrad is apparently talking to Konrad, he is not actually speaking out loud but rather only thinking.
Word Of God says white transitions are hallucinatory, right? But...the white phosphorous shelling is preceded by a white-out. Does that mean that the main impetus of the game never happened? What's going on!?
Hallucinations or delusions - whenever Walker is lying to himself somehow, when something about what you're seeing is distorted because it's being seen through Walker's eyes. Goodness knows what in that scene fit that criteria. There are loads of possible candidates. It doesn't mean necessarily that it didn't happen; just that it didn't happen exactly as Walker believes it did.
For example Walker did beat that 33rd soldier who he though was Adams to death, it just so happens he saw it differently than how it actually happened. Any number of things from the White Phosphorus incident could also be different from how they actually happened while it still happened mostly the same way. A primary candidate for that would probably be the corpse of the Woman clutching her child which shows up symbolically later in the game during something that was far more of a hallucination.
If I remember correctly, Word Of God says that white-outs are scenes where Walker is hallucinating or otherwise ignoring the reality of the situation in favour of something not real. The white-out in this case could refer to Walker's insistence that Delta have no choice but to deploy the phosphorous rounds, when in reality they do have a choice - in-story (but not in-game) there was nothing stopping them from turning around and going home. Walker convincing himself that he has no choice but to use the white phosphorous is what ultimately leads to his downfall.
How did Walker know where to find Konrad's body?
He didn't. The hallucination of Konrad implied it knew but it never said what it was until Walker actually sees that it's Konrads corpse. It's just as likely he saw the body sitting in his chair and his delusions inspired him to investigate.
The Shadow Konrad is an extension of Walker's personality. He literally knows everything that Walker knows. Walker subconsciously knows that he has not been able to find Konrad's residence for the entire game so the tower in front of him is literally the only place left that Konrad could possibly be found, and the Shadow Konrad knowing this speaks to Walker to compel him forward in his desire to confront Konrad "the villain". The Shadow Konrad talking cryptically about who deserves judgment for the fate that has befallen Dubai and his cryptic demeanor being, "No game, I assure you.", are the subconscious parts of Walker's mind that realize something is off-key speaking its piece. Walker didn't know all along that Konrad was dead but it was a possibility he subconsciously considered, it was a reality he didn't want to acknowledge until the truth was staring him directly in the face.
His logic at the beginning of chapter 10 (that Konrad would likely have made his base of operations in the Burj Khalifa, as it affords him a panoramic view of the entire city) is sound. The fact that Konrad happens to be dead is irrelevant.
I am surpriced that NO ONE has asked this yet, but lets start with a quote of the developers: “There’s a certain aspect to player agency that I don’t really agree with, which is the player should be able to do whatever the player wants and the world should adapt itself to the player’s desire,” he said. “That’s not the way that the world works, and with Spec Ops, since we were attempting to do something that was a bit more emotionally real for the player. […] That’s what we were looking to do, particularly in the white phosphorous scene, is give direct proof that this is not a world that you are in control of, this world is directly in opposition to you as a game and a gamer.” I wasnt aware that, in the real world, the concept of Free Will doesnt apply. Because as we ALL KNOW, we are forced by unknow powers to do whatever they want....oh wait, that doesn't happen. Also, if they wanted to keep it real then are there infinite respawning enemy snipers in the WP scene? Even the very beginning of the game doesn't know what it wants to do with its "realism". Richard Pearsey claims he sees the game as more of a mystery waiting to be solved. In his mind, the true objective is to piece together what exactly has happened in Dubai. The gameplay strongly disagrees. The very first time you incapacitate an enemy, a potential source of intel, the game immediately instructs you to stomp on his neck, and for this the player is rewarded with fifteen extra bullets.
One can interpret his observation in several ways. I would imagine that the point he's arguing is that, in most games, the player can manipulate the world of the game as they see fit, whereas in real life, there will always be outside factors beyond an individual's control. In a typical game, if you have good intentions you can generally achieve positive results (for example, if the game clearly signposts "this is the GOOD choice" and "this is the BAD choice" in a moral choice situation). In real life, however, having good intentions doesn't automatically guarantee that you will end up having a positive impact upon a situation: if you have incomplete information about a situation, or are misguided in your approach to resolving it, you can inadvertently cause a bad situation to become worse. I imagine this is what he is getting at. Second, the fact that the game is in some regards more realistic than other games doesn't mean it has to be 100% completely realistic. As with every work of art, certain departures from realism are made in the interest of furthering an artistic point. The game forcing the player to commit atrocities (even though you can put down the controller at any time) is its way of representing how Walker feels "forced" to commit one horrific act after another (even though he can leave Dubai at any time). As for the infinitely respawning snipers, they can be explained away if you buy the interpretation that the entire game is Walker's Dying Dream.
"As with every work of art, certain departures from realism are made in the interest of furthering an artistic point" But i already said what was HIS point or vision. He stablishes that he wanted to make a mystery to be resolved but then he contradicts his own vision by not LETTING US gather that info. And i cant put down the controller and leave, Walker doesnt have that benefit. Yager studio didnt count on the fact that the protagonist we have is not faceless mute grunt of the COD brand but an actual character. And since the game WANTS me to believe that what i am doing is just as horrible as the real thing, then i have all the obligation of the world for FINISHING the story of Walker instead of letting him root there. I have to put an end to his suffering and conclude what he started. Lets not forget that i pay like 60$ for this 3-4 hours game and i HAVE to make my money worth, isnt it?
Doesn't he have that benefit? Walker is fictional. He's also a video game character - a creature unique to the medium in that his actions don't depend solely on those involved in creating the work. The player pushes the character forward down the path the developers built; in a sense, the player is the character's animating force. The moment you put down the controller, he stops moving. When you turn off the game, he stops being. And look at you! Creating justifications for furthering Walker's madness - you have to do it, there's no other option, and it's not even your fault - it's the developers'! You can't put the game down, trade it in, play something else, simply fail to finish it the way the huge majority of players do. No. You have to keep going, you have to, you have to. ...But you don't. Unless it is somehow literally life-and-death, and I would bet my house that it isn't, then you do not have to keep playing the game.
The 'you can stop playing the game' attitude of the developers, is, for me, incredibly annoying. Stop playing the game: there goes time I already invested in the first half. Trade it in: money lost. Making a point is all well and good. Pissing off your customers, however, is not good for business.
Sometimes making a point involves pissing people off. If it bothered you that much, there are a million other games that will cheer you on instead of telling you to stop. If you want, you can feel vindicated, since the game isn't exactly a hot seller. But I am completely fine with admitting that my time is not so valuable I can't give a little away on a video game that didn't work for me.
Looking at it another way, turning the game off and never playing again wouldn't really fix anything. It would freeze time and cause the universe to shatter, which, is arguably much worse than the events that happen in game.
No, it wouldn't. It's fictional. The data that makes up the game doesn't contain an entire universe. None of them live or die. It's only textures and polygons. The characters as people and the world they move in and the actions they take all exist because you imagine they do; the game just gives you scaffolding to build up what you experience in a specific way. Turn off the game, you stop marching Walker down the path set by the developers and become free to set out a new one, utterly yours. It's still Delta Operator Captain Walker and his mission to storm-wracked Dubai in Spec Ops: The Line. What you imagine happened to him after exiting the game is no more or less real than what the game allows you to imagine.
One thing that bothers me is the "you wanted fun? you're disgusting, because that's unrealistic!" mentality that not just afflicts this game, but a lot of other people. As already stated, if "that's not the way the world works", the way the world works doesn't have infinite snipers, gigantic sandstorms, automatically picking up ammo, and any attempt involving the military going wrong.
It's not a lack of realism, it's a lack of introspection. How often do we consider the tone and content of the games we play and what they say about us and what they may say to us? As a citizen of a country that isn't the USA, sometimes the ethnocentrism and idealisation of war/violence/ruthlessness in the name of patriotism in military-themed games with American protagonists (which is to say almost all of them) sets my teeth on edge a little. I'm intrigued by a game that sets out to create some sort of self-awareness and criticism of the genre. ...Also, just because a game is going for some psychological realism doesn't mean it's somehow obligated to recreate total realism.
As an American of foreign descent, I have to say that, as someone who plays violent games, I'll go ahead and accept the sneer of "Killing for entertainment is harmless", because I have yet to maim someone in real life, or join the military (military youth programs notwithstanding). Even Modern Warfare doesn't show the protagonist and America as perfect, nor did Black Ops: the protagonist does disgusting things, people die, thanks to mistakes made by you out of your control. Do you win, be a big hero for slaughtering people attempting to kill you and others? Yes. Spec Ops takes it to eleven, tries to make it far more brutal, with a side of "everything you do is wrong", "you're bad for playing into unrealism," show that maybe you're not a hero and a few insults tossed in. Do they have a point? Of course, especially with Warfighter and the newest Call of Duty actually having actual gun and gun accessory manufacturers make tie-ins. And what about unrealistic shooter games, like Painkiller, Bulletstorm, or Serious Sam, or Doo M? They feature American protagonists, glorify violence to insane levels (you get points in Bulletstorm for inflicting torture on military men)? They're completely detached from reality - you fight demons from hell, among other things - and in the end, you're still harming polygons on a screen, for the military (at least, in Doom and Serious Sam), "for the greater good", completely stylized to the point trying it in real life would have the laws of physics angrily show you the door after you find out you can't run sixty miles in real life. It's not like the developers want exploding gore and massive guns to be an ideal reality. I'm turned off by a game that is incredibly heavy-handed and comes across as petty in its criticisms, assumes the player is an unthinking drone in a story-heavy game (which, in my opinion, is a shoot and miss - either you'll get players who only care about the gameplay, common amongst what Spec Ops's devs hate - you're far, far more likely to find angry teenagers finding it boring and going back to their mass produced, vaguely-realistic shooter game with regenerating health, or you'll get players who are smart enough to know that, no, war isn't a constant fun battle of points and laser-accurate machine guns [granted, I'm assuming too much]), and I never did really like the "wanting unrealism is a bad, terrible thing" mindset, which is probably why I despise the game so much. Hotline Miami did the "are you a brutal, mindless killer?" introspection, with the insults of the player no less stinging (I mean, the developers of the game more or less insult the player/protagonist in the regular ending - "You know nothing, do you?" "You wanted fun, right?"), and The Stanley Parable questions player agency better, because Stanley really is the player, not Walker making pre-set justifications to screw with the player, nor Konrad's shadow sneering at the player's mindset, and the narrator, while omniscient and forcing the player down a railroaded path, isn't quite a mouthpiece for the developers hating what they see as mindless, violent, pathetic manchildren, and a few endings directly hinging on the player's ability to stop the game. To each their own, I guess. Also, the developer said "that's not how the world works", in regards to his dislike of games that adapt to a player, implying they were shooting for physical realism.
You're seriously over-exaggerating the extent to which Yager "hates the player"; keep in mind that every character in the game can be considered an unreliable narrator in some way, and Walker is intensely self-loathing. Also, that the interference of the US is not portrayed as entirely wrong or evil or doomed to make things worse. What Konrad did, he did against the orders of the higher-ups, and we can't be sure why his evacuation went so horribly wrong. Walker goes off the rails; if he'd followed his orders, things may well have been fine. The Radioman originally meant well and wanted to expose the crimes of the wealthy citizens who escaped. Only the CIA has ethically bankrupt intentions (and interestingly, are the only ones who succeed in their goals), and they are duly condemned for it. Certainly in the story itself there are few genuinely heroic acts, but in the source material (both media - film and book) and the real-life events they were based on, the same thing was true. Even Modern Warfare doesn't show the protagonist and America as perfect, nor did Black Ops: the protagonist does disgusting things, people die, thanks to mistakes made by you out of your control. Do you win, be a big hero for slaughtering people attempting to kill you and others? Yes. This here - this is the issue. Acts of obscene cruelty are, apparently, justified if the one who committed them is noble in intention. You perform them, the game rewards you by bringing the story to a victorious conclusion - you won! You're the hero! Flawed, imperfect, but still ideal! You only did what had to be done! The Line tells you: no, you are not a hero. The gain didn't outweigh the cost. Even if you do think it was right, you have to bear the responsibility of what you've done, you won't come out unscathed. And the point about realism still stands. "Not how the world works" wasn't referring to general game mechanics like power-ups and recharging health-bars, just binary moral decisions. He didn't claim he was trying to be purely realistic in all ways, just a little more realistic in one way. In short: all right. Despise the game. Allow the criticism offered by The Line to slide off you. That others were affected by it doesn't mean you have to be. It's just one game, published in a very specific context and time-period, deconstructing a single line of thought.
If it's fictional and emphasizes "stop playing this game", why does the game still go out of its way to call you gross and vile for shooting up polygons and textures?
If you stop playing the game, you're no longer shooting up textures and polygons, are you? And it insults you for willingly playing into the fiction; building yourself as an imaginary hero by trivialising the accomplishments and suffering of those who actually experience events like those in the game. It picks at the self-justification we'll inevitably create by repeating it back to us. "None of this is real, so why should you care?" "Collateral damage can be justified..." "Killing for entertainment is harmless." "You're still a good person."
As said, it's "fictional", and no one really lives or dies, and yet, the game tries to claim you're an evil little shit for "trivializing" real war... while itself being fictional and (most of the time) being a hallucination itself in an unrealistic scenario. It uses "genre trappings" to ensnare players and then call them baby-eating rapists when they're too far in, sure, but it's hard to have your cake and eat it, too.
That's an exaggeration. What it says is, "You are not a hero." It's trying to get you to examine your reasons for wanting to imagine you're a hero through narrative means of killing huge numbers of people (in reality, an act that either leaves horrible emotional scars or is proof of evil) and getting revenge on a source of all nastiness (in reality, really bloody unlikely to solve the problems that wars are started to solve), and ultimately asks you who is actually to blame for the situation you're presented with. Is it the player? The protagonist (separate from the player)? Is it the developer? The developers went to work with that idea in mind and built a game that used genre-trappings to ask those questions. One of the tools it uses is a player character who wants the same thing - to be a hero - and who struggles to maintain his delusion of righteous, justified violence. What he sees is no more real in-universe than what you see sitting in front of your screen. Both the player and Walker are telling lies that they want to believe. So, no, the game is not real, it's fiction - but it's a lie that reveals a truth in being told, and because it's a game, some of the truths it tells are about the player. That's what stories are.
The player doesn't so much as tell lies as take it down with no question, up until the game says that they're not true, though. I'd argue that even video games, the most interactive of media, still have some amount of passivity from the player. It's not any better an excuse as 'blame the devs', though, point conceded.
This point has been mad elsewhere (albeit not, so far as I can see, on this page) but I feel like weighing in: consider when you're playing Batman Arkham Asylum. You're playing as Batman, you're being an unstoppable badass, punching Joker's henchmen in the face. What's more, the game is encouraging you to think like Batman, feel like Batman, view the world the way Batman does (especially via the Detective Vision) - and hence feel at least partially complicit in Batman's successes. Batman, and by extension the player, commit numerous heroic actions in the course of the game, and the game encourages the player to feel heroic upon their completion. But the player is given no choice but to commit heroic actions - Batman cannot beat up civilians, or use guns, or just leave Arkham to the Joker. If you don't commit heroic actions you die, or the plot cannot advance, or the game ends. The only choice given to the player is "do heroic things or stop playing the game". And no one complains in this case because the game makes them feel good about themselves. For all the people complaining "How can Spec Ops make me feel bad about doing things it forced me to do?", one might equally say "How can Arkham Asylum make me feel good about doing things it forced me to do?" This is what the game is calling attention to. You might say that when you're playing Arkham Asylum or Spec Ops you don't experience any kind of vicarious identification with Batman or Walker - you experience the game much the same way as watching a film or reading a book, in which the audience sympathizes with the protagonist without identifying with him or her. Fair enough. But a great many players really do identify with video game protagonists while playing games, because they play them in part as a power fantasy, and if you're perfectly fine with being made to feel heroic about actions you had no real choice but to carry out as a consequence of identifying with a heroic character, it seems reasonable to argue that you should be perfectly fine with being made to feel bad about actions you had no real choice to carry out as a consequence of engaging with a villainous character. Saying otherwise really would be having your cake and eating it.
Perhaps it's just a bad example, but both of the games are relatively shallow and token by virtue of what you just described. You can't screw up in Arkham Asylum. Well, you can, but the result of that is just dying and reloading from a checkpoint. You keep trying until you get it right. In Spec Ops, continuing the game mandates things going wrong. No matter how good you are, no matter how quick you move or accurately you shoot, Failure Is the Only Option. Which makes for somewhat pointless gameplay.
Right. So in Arkham Asylum, the only way to advance the plot is to do the right thing. In Spec Ops, the only way to advance the plot is to do the wrong thing. There's no reason we should consider one less artistically valid than the other. No one goes into a film that has a Villain Protagonist and promptly decides "Oh, I can't like this film now, the film hasn't given me a protagonist that I can identify with and vicariously enjoy the triumphs of". Why should video games be any different? Why is the concept of a video game with a Villain Protagonist less of a valid artistic statement than one with a heroic protagonist?
People do dislike Villain Protagonist characters as much as people love them. It's not so much 'artistic statement' as personal taste, the former of which should have no bearing on the latter, but that won't stop people from disliking the work.
Liking a Villain Protagonist doesn't mean putting them in Leather Pants - that's when a fan takes a distorted view of a character written as nasty and unpleasant in order to justify their attraction (sexual? Often, but not exclusively) to said character. Anyway, a protagonist's morality is an artistic choice on the part of, you know, the artist. Disliking said protagonist is personal taste on the part of those who receive the artist's work. And - this is the important part, here - the same applies to the people who like the protagonist. Yes, even if the protagonist is written as deliberately unpleasant or ineffectual as part of an artistic choice. Liking a character (or the work they appear in) isn't the same as agreeing with them, being attracted to them physically, or sympathising with them. People are allowed to enjoy things that other people don't, oddly enough.
Duh? Let's reiterate: Amazingly, people dislike films because protagonists are jerks and unidentifiable with. That doesn't mean they're automatically not artistic. That wasn't "huuurrrf people can't like what I like", thanks.
With a pothole to Draco in Leather Pants, it didn't come off that way. I'm actually now uncertain what's being said. Artistic choice is up the to artist? Personal taste is up to the viewer? Well, yes. Artistic choice doesn't render a thing immune to criticism. Criticism isn't immune to counterarguments, either. The original criticism - way up there - that the game doesn't know what to do with itself and renders all your effort meaningless by bringing the game to an unhappy ending no matter what? Counter: most games do the same thing in almost every regard, except the ending is happy. Not on your terms - happy on the developer's terms. You do everything the dev says, except the dev tells you constantly that it's the right thing to do. If this writer decided to make a game that set that approach on its head, it's an artistic choice. People can like or dislike it according to personal taste. Amazingly, some people dislike films when the protagonists are completely virtuous or generic to allow the majority of the audience to identify with them. That doesn't mean those people are special, or that the films are bad, or that the normal approach is entirely worthless. But those people can enjoy films that do something different, too.
The ultimate problem with this is that regardless of the type of game or film or other media one makes, one can and should expect to take flak for insulting their audience. The artistic validity of The Line is perfectly fine, and if it were limited to that I would have no problem. The problem is when the developers choose to rig the game against the player and the character "understandably", and then to *unjustifiably* use the rigged situation as a means to insult and demean the player/viewer. In spite of them not having a choice in the matter and consuming a piece of entertainment with a presumed eye towards catharsis and economy (ie: get the most bang for your buck by *finishing* the damned thing). Drakengard is a useful parallel, because it beats down on you the player by treating them to a crapsack world in which completing the game multiple times actually beats down on the player and the characters more. But it never had the sort of righteous anger The Line rightfully has garnered because it never had the developers making stupid statements in interviews about "You chose to finish the game multiple times, therefore you must be responsible and bad."
They do not insult their audience. They question trends in the industry/medium, its products, and ultimately, its consumers. All those comments about "barbaric Neanderthals", "baby-eating rapists" and so on and so on and so on are knee-jerk generalisations of the tone the game really has, which is questioning the morality of what you're doing, not outright condemning it. Nobody ever actually explicitly breaks the fourth wall to tell you that you're "evil", and nobody in the game itself is ever coded as "evil", either, not by the narrative itself. Walker's psychosis and delusions are accusatory, contradictory and violent because that's his state of mind. Let's talk about narratives. Every single narrative before video games was largely passive, being viewed by an audience. There were very few efforts to hand an active role (or the illusion of one) over to anyone who was not a character. Actors are not relevant to this discussion - never while they perform are they confused about whether the lines they say belong to them or the character. It's difficult to mistake a role one plays for the person one is, and if one does so, that's really bad for all sorts of reasons. (When Heath Ledger died, the conclusion was that it was an accident, not the influence of any roles he played. Everything I've ever read by an actor or a manual about acting or a dramatist of any stripe makes it clear that "becoming" the character is not really possible or healthy; you can only try your best to understand how the character would act.) Games - as several people with long backgrounds in developing games, narratives, journalism, or in other fields, have told me - are the very first major medium to have not a viewer or a narrator but a player character, who exists both within and without the narrative. Fascinating concept and obviously a compelling one - instead of observing the story play out, you make it occur. If you do not actively participate, the story doesn't exist. And of course the player characters that developers create live in an idealised story where the actions of one person can actually warp their constructed world. And as storytellers often do, developers have constructed worlds where the soldiers are always grand idealised heroes and not just regular people. There's not much of what actually characterises war, or the military. Confusion, for one. Pointless exercises with no clear goal. Equipment breaking down or getting lost. Orders given to do menial tasks for hours just because the battalion commander just doesn't like you, or doesn't like the ethnic group you belong to. Very, very, very strict rules about who carries a gun and why and when they can use it. And then there are the darker aspects, like failures to communicate getting hundreds of soldiers killed without gaining anything (Gallipoli's a good example there). Errors of judgement or calculation or recklessness leading to bombs dropped on civilians or fellow soldiers. One group accidentally undoing everything another allied group achieved because nobody thought of collaborating. Individual soldiers committing hideous crimes because of unforeseen instability. The violence trained into soldiers coming out in inappropriate contexts. And that's just with formal, official militaries and operations! All of these things have been explored in other media, including Apocalypse Now - complete with accusatory subtext aimed at the audience for demanding entertainment from them. Even in the most idealised film about a soldier imaginable, we have "Are you not entertained?" And games have done it as well, but not always to the same extent. Enter The Line, which takes some of the very worst things that can go wrong in a military context, and marries them to the one unique thing game narratives have, which is that the player is an active participant, and then add in some criticism of the trends that occur in the industry's typical depictions of contemporary warfare, and you get a game about a military operation that goes very, very wrong, where the player's participation furthers its downfall, and criticism is levelled at everyone involved - the developers who made those games, the player who plays them, the industry that consistently demands a vision more and more extreme but never emotionally honest. You get a game that's very bleak and not very flattering about any of those things. But it's not insulting the player. It actually assumes the player is disturbed and thoughtful about the implications it makes and the actions they take, and allows them to come to their own conclusions (that's why the choice in the end is the only one that actually makes a difference). Hell, it even allows you to blame Walker himself for what happened, and then kill him! That's a pretty final distinction between him and the player. I much rather that than a game that says "Knowingly shoot these civilians unless you don't want to deal with the emotional fallout of doing that in which case here's the rest of the story which'll assume you did anyway. Tonal and thematic consistency is for suckers." I've never heard any of the developers say that the players are bad people for playing their game. They pointed out one or two weird and unintentional parallels between player comments and Walker's lines, and said the game is harsh and actively discourages the player's progress, which is unusual, and that if the player truly feels they are responsible for the atrocities Walker commits, they can stop them at any time (because surely, refusing such things for that reason would outweigh any money spent, effort expended or catharsis denied. If you played on, well, clearly they didn't. You aren't bad for continuing to play, but you can't claim that you were forced). And, final point, the militia isn't everybody in Dubai. There are kids. There are non-combatant women and men. Submitting to the rule of the 33rd makes the survivors neither combatants nor criminals. Even the guy who stole water is only a thief. Even Lugo's murder make those who committed it murderers, but not combatants. What Riggs did is still indefensible lawfully and ethically. I refuse to believe Cops and Robbers, played by prepubescent kids using gestures and mouth noises, can be said to be no different from the billion-dollar video games industry that advertises realism and grittiness and aims (and rates) itself squarely for people aged twenty-plus. And by god, I am tired of this discussion.
... is it weird that I wish we had a Mic Drop pothole after that?
If you do not actively participate, the story doesn't exist. The problem with this assertion is that it isn't one of fact, and is no more or less true than the idea that narratives happen regardless of whether or not the audience watches/reads/plays through them. And even when a player can decide how to proceed, the decision may not be made based on their preferences; I didn't have Norman Jayden save the Origami Killer in Heavy Rain because I would have in real life; I had Jayden save him because that was what Jayden would've done, and letting the Killer fall conflicted with his established Lawful Good character. I didn't have Niko kill Derrick McReary in Grand Theft Auto IV because I liked Francis more; I killed him because I thought his version of the funeral and Gerald's words regarding him served the plot better.
It's a good thing I'm not super-invested in playing either of those games, but anyway... It's more true of games that other forms of media, just by design. The very first question question a character designer asks is, "Is it somebody the player might want to be, or that they'd be interested in as a person? Is this character someone the player can feel is theirs?" You're there from the start. It's true, yes, that the distinction between game narratives and narratives in anything else is subjective, but it does play a part in the development of games and their stories, right now. And I would argue that those choice you made were still your choices and preferences, it's just that you frame your preference differently. Rather than personal satisfaction, you preferred tonal or character consistency, as you would personally define those things. Someone else might believe differently of Jayden (just as there are so many different approaches to the character of Lee in The Walking Dead). Could you prove them wrong, objectively, without getting into what you think Jayden would do? How you interpret his lines and actions? And there you go, that's you, contributing to the plot, interpreting it to suit you. Which is what's really cool about games. And stories in general, I think.
Is it somebody the player might want to be, or that they'd be interested in as a person? Is this character someone the player can feel is theirs? The thing is, I've never really wanted to be a character in any work of fiction, nor do I see them as an avatar or a reflection of me; I'm me, the characters are themselves, as they were designed. We're two distinct, unrelated entities. I may see aspects of myself in them or root for them, but that's not the same as wanting or pretending to bethem. Sometimes I don't even get emotionally invested in characters at all; I just find enjoyment in observing how the events of a narrative play out, without getting "attached" one way or the other. So if a game says to me, "You did this", my response is "No, I didn't", because I have a fundamentally different view of how this all works and where I am in relation to the game's characters; we're approaching the issue from irreconcilable positions. I love SOTL as a narrative, but as a criticism (if that's what it's indeed meant as, and it may not be), it only works if you accept certain things in advance.
Mmm, I don't think you can say you're completely unconnected as entities if you control them or root for them, but that's purely my opinion, I suppose. By this point it's all semantics and opinion, really. Ah, well.
Also, if Riggs really planned to destroy all of Dubai's water supplies, why did he go out of his way to pump all the water on countless trucks and maneouver them through the city in a teeth-grinding firefight? Couldn't he just have simply poisoned or polluted the pools? Petrol, sand or corpses would have done the trick.
Perhaps when Riggs and Delta made it inside the Coliseum Riggs was concerned that if they waited too long they'd be surrounded by the 33rd and be trapped. Perhaps by driving the trucks out of the Coliseum he was hoping also to escape the city. Just a thought, not a very good one.
Riggs got Delta to join him by claiming he would steal the water to break the 33rd's power base. Destroying the water would surely turn Delta against him, so he needed to trick them, putting the water into trucks and crashing these was a lengthy but comparably safe option.
So if Konrad's been dead since the game started, then what sense does it make for the radioman to say things like "Sorry, but I answer to a higher power than you, Captain Walker," and "I remember you. And I'm not the only one." It doesn't make sense!
What? Both of those lines are ambiguous. "Higher power" could mean his moral obligation to continue broadcasting to the 33rd or Konrad's last order or something. And surely Konrad and the Radioman weren't the only two people Walker met in Afghanistan - there may well be other soldiers who said something like "I remember that guy. Walker. Don't know that he got all the way out of Kabul, you know what I'm saying?" Walker himself says he knew other members of the 33rd than Konrad (like the ranking officers who were executed). It makes perfect sense that Walker would interpret them as referring to Konrad - he's psychotically obsessed.
It's a deliberate Red Herring designed to give the impression that Konrad is still alive.
In the last chapter at the hotel, we see that Walker hallucinated the remaining 33rd surrendering to him. So then, unless Adams managed to kill all of the rest of the 33rd in his Last Stand, then why didn't the rest of them come after Walker and finish him off?
Walker got pushed over a balcony and then crawled away while a massive firefight occurred behind him. Then he entered the hotel and stayed there until he punched his own ticket or the rescue squad arrived. Either way, he ceases being an active threat just as what remains of the 33rd is falling into disarray. If they're even aware he's alive as he wanders away into the dark, he's not a priority anymore.
Does Delta not coordinate with the CIA? Why, oh why, did Command let Walker and his guys walk into Dubai blind to the fact that the CIA were already in there? And even weirder, Gray Fox (Gould in particular) seems to know Team Walker, but not the other way around. If there was better communication, it seems like a lot of trouble could've been avoided.
Right hand versus left hand. The CIA isn't part of the military and what they were doing in Dubai definitely wasn't widely known. It's entirely possible someone just plain screwed up and forgot to veto Delta investigating the 33rd's disappearance.
In the event that Walker shoots the shadow of Konrad, rather than himself, how in the heck is he able to radio in for backup at that point? The only radio in the city that was established as being able to reach the storm wall at that distance was the Radioman's…and Walker destroyed the tower. You could argue that he didn't radio in earlier because he didn't want to, but that explanation is only given early in the game when they're close to the storm wall anyway; after that, Walker's excuse is that they're in too deep and won't be able to reach anyone (and, presumably, no one will be able to reach them). If he could have radioed in at any time, what was the point of slogging to the Trans-Emirates Building, other than the Radioman being annoying?
Its not clear at all how much of that ending really happened. It could just be they sent in another group when the CIA stopped reporting in, Delta never reported back and signs show the 33rd has been wiped out. The broadcast could have been his own internal monologue, kind of like the beginning of the game and the memories of Konrad and him talking in Kabul.
Additionally, the reason Walker heads to the Trans-Emirates building rather than radio in for help is because he personally wants to be the hero who evacuates Dubai and saves the survivors: for him, doing this himself is the only way he can overcome his guilt over the white phosphorous incident.
I think I may have found the answer to my question in the epilogue itself; the building Walker emerges from to meet the rescue team appears to have a broadcast system on top of it.
What's the deal with the 417? When you get a headshot in normal view, the enemy's head remains mostly intact, but when you use the scope their head bursts like an overcooked burrito. How do you explain the difference?
One for the game itself: basically the whole game consists of it telling you how much You Suck and the only way to stop is to stop playing the game, right? Okay, why would anyone want to play or buy a game when they find out how much it insults them? How would the developers profit from it? For that matter the developers condemn war but they are making a game on war in the hope of profiting from it...um...what?
The developers cleverly disguised the game as a standard military shooter in the lead-up to its release. The real nature of the game only came out after players finished it. So most gamers didn't realize that the game was a Deconstruction and an attack on the way they played modern military games until they played the game themselves.
They're also not condemning war itself - they're condemning the way it's glorified and how its participants get turned into selfless heroes no matter what they're actually doing during the conflict.
Why is the white phosphorus mortar even there in the first place? If the 33rd is being deployed on a mercy mission to evacuate Dubai having such a decidedly anti-humanitarian piece of artillery makes little sense. Even if they just happened to have it with them from whatever they were doing in Afghanistan it's still not a tactically practical weapon. Dubai's weather is prone to violent shifts in weather and wind in the game. Even if it's accuracy wouldn't be compromised (let's assume the targeting computer they show Walker using can correct for that) WP gives off tons of smoke. Small amounts of WP are often used in obscuring weapons like smoke grenades. Setting it up in defense of a static, open air location like The Gate full of unequipped civilians (all herded into a trench) is foolish. Even if things have gotten so terrible that the 33rd faction guarding the place doesn't care about using such a weapon against their former comrades, the CIA, or any insurgents with the unpredictable conditions it could suffocate them if the wind takes an unlucky shift. The game hinges on the horror of the civilians being not just killed, but killed in such horrific fashion by THIS PARTICULAR WEAPON. All of the horrible things that Walker does in the aftermath all find some justification in how this one event caused him to start unraveling. Any confusion or OOC bits can all be viewed as the result of the narrator losing his grip on reality. It's literally the last time in the course of the plot that anything really needs to make sense and that one crucial bit just doesn't make much to me.