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  • Acclaimed Flop:
    • The game was near-universally praised for its writing, but it failed to sell well due to the advertising misrepresenting it as a generic modern military shooter (which may have been intentional). Its release was sandwiched in between both massive genre mainstays Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 (the very sort of games it was deconstructing), and the game can be completed just in around three and a half hours probably didn't help. Also not helping is the game's message of "stop playing," which is often mentioned by fans of the game when talking about it.
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    • Several reviewers marked the game down substantially for its poor multiplayer component. As noted elsewhere, Yager Development had no wish to include this component, and it was developed entirely by a separate studio. It's possible that had it not been included, reviews would have been more positive and hence the game might have sold better.
  • B-Team Sequel: Technically speaking, since none of the key people who made past Spec Ops games had anything to do with this one, though it really has nothing to do with their past work anyways.
  • Banned in China:
    • Banned in the United Arab Emirates due to the whole "Dubai left to rot" premise. The finished game makes it even more understandable since the intel items reveal the Emirati government knew that the storms were coming and had the wealthy evacuated in secret while ordering the media to cover it up.
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    • It's not just banned in the UAE, either - they've ordered the game banned across the entire GCC note  due to its premise.
  • Creator Backlash: According to the writing team, multiplayer was mandated by the publisher and farmed to an outside studio for development. Lead writer Cory Davis describes it as a different game entirely, "rammed onto the disc like a cancerous growth." This is made quite obvious by the fact there is no achievement for multiplayer, and that many of the achievements of the game that would seem to be easier to get by playing multiplayer can only be unlocked in the campaign. The dev team is basically telling us it's not meant to be played.
  • Creator Breakdown: Lead writer Walt Williams points out that, to write the game, he had to undergo the same sort of psychological barrage the player would face, except for much, much longer.
    Williams: This would be hard enough to experience just once. But, writing a project like this takes time. About 3 years, to be exact. That is a very long time to be immersed in a game like Spec Ops. There were definitely times when I wanted to walk away from the project, because it was taking a serious toll on my life. But in the end, I couldn't walk away from a story and project that was so personal to me and the team at Yager.
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  • Creator's Favorite: Nolan North, Capt. Walker's voice actor, is especially fond of the game and has been recommending it constantly anywhere he can.
  • Deliberate Flaw Retcon: Many reviewers have praised the developers for intentionally making the gameplay awful as a reflection of the oversaturated shooter genre, with generic Take Cover! mechanics and terrible controls. However, in an interview, the developers have explicitly stated that they weren't trying to make the controls horrible on purpose, but they were more than happy to let their audience assume that if they wanted to.
  • Enforced Method Acting: According to Word of God, the voice recordings were done with the entire cast together in chronological order, so that by the time the end comes about the cast members were tired and angry and just ready to go home. Sort of like Walker's team.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • As a result of the poor multiplayer mode, several reviews marked the game's score down significantly. According to the lead designer, the multiplayer mode was done by another team entirely on a publisher mandate.
    • In a positive example, 2K Games stipulated that the game was to be a military-themed shooter set in Dubai long before the actual game went into development. Writer Walt Williams has stated that he appreciated being given this "box" to work in, as it forced him and the rest of Yager to be creative in how they designed the setting and narrative.
    • According to this article, which Williams contributed to, the reason the entire framing device with having the helicopter sequence, in the beginning, is so odd and barely acknowledged is that it was a last-minute change by the executives while they were recording dialog.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Nolan North actually read for Cpt. Walker before Uncharted shipped.
  • Image Source: Evolving Title Screen.
  • One-Take Wonder: Every single voiceline was recorded during the same day. By the end, the voice actors were just as tired and weary as the characters they were portraying — which was wholly intentional.
  • Playing Against Type:
    • Nolan North usually voices loveable rogues or funny smartasses. Captain Walker is VERY far from his usual roles, being a no-nonsense infantryman. Not to mention a post-traumatic, insane war criminal.
    • Bruce Boxleitner also counts. His best known roles are stubborn, cheerful, heroic Dork Knights. Konrad is about as far from that as you can get.
    • Ditto for Christopher Reid. While his first voice acting role, he was known for playing relatable, down-to-earth "everyman" types. Here, he's an extremely jaded and frustrated soldier, with years of baggage weighing on him.
  • Playing with Character Type: Nolan North's role as Cpt. Walker is a savage Deconstructed Character Archetype of North's usual type. Curiously, the writer of the game has claimed that they had no deconstructive intent in mind when casting him — it was just a happy coincidence.
  • Sequel Gap: Released 10 years after the last Spec Ops game, Airborne Commando, although it really has no connections with previous Spec Ops games anyway other than the name.
  • Throw It In!: A rare script example - writer Walt Williams originally didn't want the helicopter sequence In Medias Res and saw it as a cheap tactic, and so, spur of the moment, he wrote in the "We've done this before!" dialogue in pen on the back of the script out of spite.
  • Torch the Franchise and Run: One of the main reasons almost everyone dies and Walker either is also dead or psychologically broken at the end was so that sequels couldn't be made. Ideas for story DLC featuring Adams were bounced around, since his death technically didn't happen onscreen, allowing him to survive it, but even then, the script ended with him dying in a much more certain manner.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The story was originally going to be an even greater homage to Apocalypse Now then it ended up being. According to Word of God Konrad was going to be like Colonel Kurtz conducting illegal search and destroy missions in nations that the US was not supposed to be at war with. In the same way, Kurtz was in Cambodia and Laos, Konrad would be infiltrating Iran using Dubai as a base of operations. The U.S Government would then send Walker to assassinate Colonel Konrad and terminate his command just like Willard did to Colonel Kurtz. This was changed mid-development so that Walker would simply be sent to conduct recon on Dubai, with Konrad actually trying to help Dubai.
    • As noted elsewhere on this wiki, Yager Development had no desire to include a multiplayer component in the game, and have openly criticized its publisher-mandated inclusion.
    • Several members of the team (including writer Walt Williams here) have stated that they would have preferred had achievements not been present in the game, as they thought they detracted from the emotional force of some sequences. In the end, all the achievement pictures used in the game are pictures of the developers mocking the player.
    • At one point in development, Josh Homme was attached to compose the game's score.
    • According to Significant Zero, there was going to be a DLC for the game that would have had Adams surviving his final stand with the Damned 33rd at the end of the game, albeit horrifically scarred and trying to help out a 33rd member escape Dubai.
    • Originally, when confronted at the end, Konrad was alive, but killed himself by jumping off the Burj Khalifah, leaving Walker the victor only by default. When the game's long production cycle forced a story rewrite, one of the writers came up with the twist that Konrad was Dead All Along in less than an hour, changing everything without changing anything.
    • Earlier builds gave players other options for getting through the infamous white phosphorus incident, such as fighting through normally or leaving when ordered to — these were removed when testing showed that almost every player would take those options, ruining the narrative.
  • The Wiki Rule: The Spec Ops Wiki.
  • Word of God: Walt William wrote and released a book that went into a lot of detail about the development cycle of Spec Ops called “Significant Zero”. It also delved into Walt’s mental health crisis while he was working on the game; see Creator Breakdown above.

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