Spec Ops: The Line
2K Games (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
The boundary between right and wrong is as murky as a Sahara sandstorm in Spec Ops: The Line. This new installment in a long-dormant series might look like every other olive-drab modern warfare shooter, but the story treads a different path, sending the player into morally ambiguous territory instead of behind enemy lines. You control Captain Martin Walker, leader of a Delta Force team sent into Dubai to find missing U.S. Army Colonel John Konrad and his men. A series of catastrophic sandstorms has turned the richest city on Earth into a ruin, and it soon becomes clear that Konrad and his men are running amok in this lawless wasteland. It’s your mission to bring the rogue colonel to heel. (If the story of a wayward officer sounds familiar, it should: Spec Ops was inspired by Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, which was adapted into the movie Apocalypse Now.)
The game’s missions will send you rappelling down decrepit skyscrapers and riding shotgun in helicopter gunships, with tough decisions waiting at each break in the action. Will you take up arms against fellow U.S. soldiers? Are you willing to sacrifice the lives of allies to save innocent civilians? Combat gets just as messy, as sandstorms continue to roll in with random frequency and intensity. These maelstroms limit visibility to mere feet, leaving behind towering drifts that you can topple onto enemies if you shoot carefully. Don’t feel bad about fighting dirty. In Spec Ops’ morally bankrupt battlefield, it’s the only way to survive.