Played It: Spec Ops: The Line

Although some of the initial discussion suggested that Spec Ops: The Line might be a game to handle war well and realistically, by now I think it's commonly accepted that this is more a deconstruction of the gung-ho portrayal of war in modern military shooters.

The order of the day is running through pretty much every standard trope in the big book of generic war game Lego components and making you feel really, really bad about everything you do. This is the game to take our culture's current most popular role for the player character - the tough guy who kills hundreds of people for what he believes to be right - and actually tries to characterise him appropriately. Not to spoil too much, but it turns out he's probably a guy with a few character defects, to say the least.

There are debates to be had about whether this is a game that tries to have its cake and eat it - to titillate with violence and military fetishism, only to absolve itself of responsibility with a fancy plot. Whichever side of the fence you fall on (and for me I think the gameplay and plot interwove very nicely) Spec Ops: The Line is certainly thought-provoking. Not a perfect game, by any means, but ample proof that both the will and the ability exist to make video games that tackle weighty themes with a modicum of complexity.

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