We get hands-on with Spec Ops: The Line's multiplayer mode. Find out how it works in our preview.
Published on Apr 26, 2012
2K’s Spec Ops: The Line is certainly rather different. From its harrowing single-player campaign to its obsession with sand, it’s not immediately trying to fit any particular mould where the shooter market is concerned.
Multiplayer, mind, is a little different. You’d be forgiven for thinking this was yet another Call Of Duty clone when you first sit down with Yager’s third-person military epic online – there’s ways to rank up, perks to be enjoyed and classes to be tinkered with.
Given that this has become almost standard across the entire genre, though, means it’s tough to judge it just because the development team has smartly looked at the wider field and seen what’s popular.
It can be to a team’s own detriment to ignore such obvious trends. Thankfully, once you actually get into the nitty gritty of what Spec Ops is trying to achieve, there is something very unique that waits, offering up a spin on an expected experience.
The first real shift comes in how many players can be on the field at one time. Restricted to eight, it’s a very conscious design choice by Yager to try and keep battles intricate, intense and personal.
It’s not a multiplayer arena that lets you ignore teamwork without taking on a significant amount of risk. Much like Gears Of War, supporting your squad and moving as a unit is where the key to success lies.
With smaller numbers per game, there's a heavier focus on sticking together.
If you’re skilled enough the run and gun approach is certainly an option, but it’s a last ditch effort rather than an intelligent opening gambit. It works too, mostly due to how quickly you realise the importance of unity and the benefits that come when using it in conjunction with the ever-threatening compound that is sand.
It’s not often you’ll hear us ranting and raving about how a small yellow particle can actually be quite the game-changer, but Spec Ops: The Line manages to provoke such a reaction.
At any point in a match, a sandstorm or avalanche can completely upend a game, cutting off pathways, opening up new ones or just restricting your view to the point enemies could pop up as if from nowhere at any minute.
Aside from the amount of fear it generates, it’s a fantastic way to ensure that no tactic is the correct one. You can spend an entire round camping and racking up headshots with your trusty sniper, but as soon as the weather changes it’s actually impossible to carry on in the same vein.
You’ll either be an easy target for someone else, or just completely useless as you stare into the great abyss. It has also meant Yager can be a little more imaginative with the perks that are available.
As ever more will become available as you level-up, but it’s not just a case of a faster reload or being able to sprint a bit faster. When the sand pays a visit, every player’s movement is restricted, much as it would be if any of us were to be caught in such extreme weather conditions.
Spec Ops: The Line's multiplayer might not be surprising, but there's a fresh feeling to it.
At a particular juncture, however, you’ll be able to choose an upgrade to counter that, making you the ultimate assassin when things take a turn for the worse.
Outside of this Yager has tried hard to introduce an array of modes that although based on what we all know and love, are tweaked enough to make them somewhat fresh.
Rally Point operates much like King Of The Hill, although each waypoint will shift around the map after a certain period of time in order to keep the pace up.
Buried is far more inventive. With the grand aim to destroy your opponent’s high value target, you first have to take out three vital points that are situated in their base.
Needing an absolute barrage of ammunition to take down – there are RPGs scattered about the map – and possessing the ability to be repaired, it soon breaks down into your squad dividing itself up into an offensive and defensive unit.
Daring to rely on merely one will almost suffocate any progress you could potentially make, so there’s a genuine discussion to be had about who’s more suited to which end. The wrong decision can prove to be almost embarrassing as you get overrun within minutes.
The real joy for us, much as it was when we touched the single-player, is that Spec Ops handles differently to many shooters out there, making it instantly refreshing when you do start to toy around with it.
It’s certainly nothing revolutionary, but the many tweaks it has made make it wonderfully satisfying. A good community is always a benefit to any game that wants to be a mainstay online, and if Spec Ops: The Line’s potential is anything to go by, it’s definitely deserving of one.