Spec Ops: The Line

No pictures in this one, folks - replaying the game was enough of a chore, taking screenshots was just too much.

No pictures in this one, folks – replaying the game was enough of a chore, taking screenshots was just too much.

Some of my favorite works, in any medium, are those that deconstruct, examine, and lampshade their chosen forms of art: People like Jasper Fforde, Terry Pratchett, Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino have based their entire careers on works like this, and deserve every bit of acclaim they get for it.

Spec Ops: The Line, Yager Games’ landmark opus, may seem like one of those on the surface, but it’s another animal entirely. There are dozens of differences between it and the creations of the other artists I mentioned, but there’s one that overshadows the rest, and it leads to most of the game’s successes and failures:

Pratchett, Tarantino, and so on – they love books and movies, and the ones they make themselves are playfully satirical, but still affectionate. Spec Ops, though, hates video games. It hates video games with a passion, one that is comparable to the likes of a vengeful computer hates the hapless human scientists it invariably turns against. And since, by necessity, you’re a player of video games if you’re playing Spec Ops, the game hates you.

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