Spec Ops: The Line is explicit about its intentions and inspirations, sometimes to a fault. It’s truly a gritty shooter, and not because you’re steering a bipedal meat chunk with a scraggly soul patch. The conflict feels isolated and inescapable, with a sand-drowned Dubai hemming in soldiers who only hope to survive and follow orders as best they can. You have permission to take this game seriously.
That’s why it’s disappointing, and often baffling, when Spec Ops underlines its themes with an orange crayon. The discovery of a strung-up, mutilated corpse is meant to shock, but the scene feels deflated alongside an Achievement notification that essentially says, “War is terrible. Have 10 points!”
Gallery: Spec Ops: The Line (E3 2012)