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Spec Ops The Line back to reviews
It's all right
As a character study and a deconstruction, I find The Line's story quite appealing, although it probably could've stood to be a little longer and/or built-up. The gameplay is, if not perfect, at least fully functional and not frustrating, which is all I ask.

Regarding the You Bastard implications, I have rather conflicting feelings. For the most part, I'm of the opinion that video games are no more inherently "interactive" than literature or films, unless you're explicitly given a choice on how to proceed in or resolve the story (and even then, there are only certain, pre-programmed, choices that can be made) . In the end you're only pushing buttons to follow a path or paths determined well in advance; turning the game off and trying to wish away the events of the story will be no more successful than stopping halfway through a novel and pretending all those pages aren't still there, and strikes me as akin to the action of plugging one's ears to drown out something unpleasant that's already occurred and cannot be undone.

That said, even if I were to accept the claim that turning the game off is somehow a valid ending to an already established narrative with four possible conclusions (and I won't consider any solipsistic arguments along the lines of "It only existed and happened because you watched/read/played it!") and that I need to take "responsiblity" for anything "I" did playing the game, I wouldn't feel bad about my actions. If the point is to think about anything (violence, morality of war, "power fantasies", whatever), I thought. And I decided not to change my opinion.
Yeah, that's the thing about the "turn off the game" ending. The bad stuff still happens, because it's on the disc, it's been tested by the developers. It still exists.

I take it as the devs trying to cover their asses and look more clever than they really are. And failing.
comment #19179 MachineMan1992 28th Apr 13
I actually do think turning the game off is a legitimate response, because you can do that if you're sufficiently disturbed by the content, the same way you'd walk out of am unpleasant movie or stop reading an unpleasant novel. So I can kind of see where the developers are coming from. Where I part ways with them is the idea that it's a legitimate end to the narrative, which it simply isn't, because it doesn't conclude the story in any way. What I would've preferred is something along the lines of a Non Standard Game Over if you left Dubai; an interesting argument could in turn be made about "game over" being a valid ending to what we play.
comment #19180 Robotnik 28th Apr 13
I guess. Though personally, if I'm forced to put down a game, it isn't because I'm disturbed by the content, it's because I'm disgusted that I paid money for a disc of solid pretentiousness.

Sorry. Got a bit ranty there.

I've mentioned on forums that if the game had an option right before WP to turn around and go home, then I'd be singing praises from the towers along with everyone else. (an exaggeration, obviously.)
comment #19181 MachineMan1992 28th Apr 13
In the words of critic Jim Emerson (some years back, covering for when Ebert was sick), on the movie Funny Games:

''You (the lab rat) are placed in a Skinner box (the movie theater) and subjected to random negative stimuli (filmed violence, as a substitute for painful electrical jolts). Haneke, whose academic background is in psychology, philosophy and theater, assumes the role of empirical taskmaster. He hypothesizes that his box will shock you into a knee-jerk ethical dilemma. To pass the test, you must reject the false premise of the experiment itself (if only on the grounds of insufferable smugness) and walk out.

An even better response, theoretically, would be to storm the booth and rip the film out of the projector, thus symbolically declaring your refusal to swallow the force-fed medicinal doses of synthesized abuse the film is administering. And if you really wanted to ace the challenge, you would just not see the movie.''

Something about this general approach offends me on some level. But, since I have never played the game, I can say that I have beaten it.
comment #19182 doctrainAUM 28th Apr 13
Something about this general approach offends me on some level.

Offhand, I would guess that's the fact that it's complete nonsense.
comment #19184 nrjxll 29th Apr 13
Your review fits a lot of what I thought about the game. However, I disagree with turning the game off as a valid response. Sure, you can turn it off if you want, like with any other video game, but with this the developers have created a no-win situation for the players. Like you've said, turning the game off will not make the events that have happened go away, because they'll always be with you. Like you've said, it's the same as plugging your ears to drown it out. To me, that's the same as cowardice and running away from problems and running away from responsibility, which is part of what this game is trying to teach us; taking responsibility for our actions. To me, it's a Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't situation; either play through the game and let it guilt-trip you for things it forces you to do, or turn it off, and thus run away from responsibility and the problem. Not to mention a waste of time and money.

It only makes one wonder on why the developers even bother making this game in the first place if they're going to say "turn it off if you don't want to do this". Why bother to waste time and money building this world, creating all of these characters and forcing them into roles to be killed off? What will it be all for then? No, they want us to buy and play this game so that they can guilt-trip us in this ham-fisted, inherently hypocritical game. This is why I do not consider the "turn the game off" retort a legitimate response in any way.

Sorry for this long rant, but I had to say talk about this, and your review seemed to describe just how I felt about the whole thing.


"Offhand, I would guess that's the fact that it's complete nonsense."

Because it is complete nonsense.
comment #19518 Rahkshi500 24th May 13
>with this the developers have created a no-win situation for the players.

Life is a no-win situation. You might call it cowardice, but sometimes you gotta know when to fold them and realize that your involvement isn't making things better, it's making things worse. Feeling that you have a responsibility and that you've got to fix things is admirable, but perhaps that gets around to the theme in the game of "wanting to be a hero" and how that can actually have negative consequences.

I haven't played the game, I was directed here by someone else, but I'm finding these reviews interesting, and from them I'm also finding the scenario described in the game interesting. Whether this is a good "game" or not, it's clearly prompted some intelligent discussion.
comment #24845 flimflam 17th Jun 14
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