First released back in the mid-90s, the Spec Ops series sank into obscurity when the previous generation of consoles came around.
Known for its realistic weaponry and gritty gameplay, the series still has a few fans, as evident by the hubbub surrounding the announcement of Spec Ops: The Line.
Set in a Dubai devastated by sand storms, Spec Ops: The Line sees you on the hunt for a rogue group of soldiers. Sounds pretty clichéd, right? But there's more to it than that.
Following an action-packed prologue which sees you man a helicopter turret, the game begins proper, with players traipsing through what was once a roadway of sorts.
After an initial firefight, the game degenerates into the usual third-person action, with a cover system in place. It's all pretty satisfying, with enemies just taking a couple of shots to kill and the AI doing a halfway decent job too.
Players can also make use of sand to incapacitate their enemies, for instance, the opening firefight has you shooting out a vehicle's window, dumping a load of sand on the enemy below.
But if you're looking for tactics and stealth, you're out of luck, with all-out action being par for the course. Sure, you have the ability to direct your squad's fire, but you'll survive just fine on your own – just make sure you stick to cover.
Your squadmates are pretty proficient too, taking out enemies here and there as well as calling out their locations. It doesn't give the Ghost Recon games a run for their money, but they're pretty competent anyway.
The narrative is probably one of the best we've seen from an action game, as you make your way through the sand-swept ruins of Dubai, slowly unravelling the grim story.
It's all pretty bleak indeed, with the game using morality and the horrors of war as central themes.
For instance, one scene has you walking through the aftermath of a white phosphorous attack. Now, if you don't know, white phosphorous rounds and bombs are designed to burn rather than explode...
The game does tend to go a bit too over-the-top with the grimness though. For example, one bit has your squad discover a burnt corpse hanging upside-down, only for the scene to be interrupted by an achievement called "the horrors of war". We get it - there's a lot of disturbing imagery - no need to shove it in our face.
Morality also comes into play, with players frequently put into positions you don't see in other games. It could be something as simple as deciding whether to kill one of your own or as complex as choosing whether to use white phosphorous on enemy troops.
Outside of a few key moments, it never really affects the storyline, being confined to that particular moment for the most part. Additionally, I also got the impression that it was an illusion of choice at some times.
One example is the "choice" of whether to use phosphorous on enemy troops. It seems impossible to simply take on the enemy troops without being aided by the controversial weapon. So, it goes without saying that we wanted more far-reaching consequences for our choices.
None of this matters in the multiplayer modes though, with the usual array of deathmatch, team deathmatch and objective-based modes on offer. Players can also customise their kit, from clothing to weapon load-outs, making for a pretty comprehensive experience.
Our only qualm is that finding matches can be a bit tough, waiting a good few minutes for a couple of players to join in. We hope that more players join in.
On the presentation side of things, the visuals are by no means a new benchmark, but they look good enough regardless.
It's mainly down to the setting, with sand everywhere, giving little opportunity for more colour to be injected into the scene. But the environments are pretty detailed anyway, with the sandstorm effect look quite convincing. Additionally, the game throws plenty of enemies at you, with little to no slowdown had.
In fact, there are a few moments where the game engine shows glimpses of what it can achieve. For instance, one brief bit has you walking through a building with a beautiful marble floor, with the reflections making for a pretty eye-pleasing effect.
Spec Ops: The Line might not be the best third-person shooter out on the market right now, but the fantastic narrative and rewarding gameplay makes it worth considering.
Score: 7.5 out of 10