There are times I truly believe gaming can be more than just finishing a mission or getting a high score, that it has the potential to transcend other types of media. I’m convinced Spec Ops: The Line is that type of game. It goes beyond the sum of all its parts and leaves you a different person then before you started.

Developed by Yager and brought to the Mac by Digital Tribe Games, Spec Ops: The Line is unlike most modern shooters out there, it’s about telling a story that is both authentic and filled with war-torn feelings. But is it a worthy addition to the Mac’s growing collection of shooters? Does it provide an experience worthy of your time and money? Short answer: Hell Yeah.

You can get it from the Mac App Store.

 

Enter Spec Ops for Mac

Spec Ops: The Line (Mac)The game would be ruined if I spoiled the story for you, which is why I won’t get too much into the details. That said, there are some things you need to know about the gale: The Line is about decision making during wartime, and the effects and consequences of those decisions. This game pulls no punches and provides an experience that can’t be found in other military shooters.

The story is told with authenticity and gives you an idea of what you would do yourself if you were there. You are presented with imperfect decision-making humans trying to make the best of things. This is what makes the game so engaging and enthralling. Spec Ops easily gave me that “can’t put it down” feeling while playing. I didn’t even try the multiplayer until much later, because I just needed to see it through to the end.

The Line’s gameplay itself feels familiar and that’s because it plays similarly to Gears of War or other third-person shooters. The game uses the now mainstream health regeneration system but don’t be fooled by it. This isn’t another Call of Duty clone, encouraging you to run and gun. Damage accumulates fast (with grenades killing you instantly), making the game much more tactical and forcing you to take cover.

The game’s cover system resembles Rainbow Six or Gears of Wars’s, giving you a nice commando feeling when you jump over one cover to crouch-run and slide to the next. Thankfully, your teammates do a better job at staying alive than you, which lets you have fun without having to micro-manage them.

Spec Ops The Line Mac

Also, the game is very realistic when it comes to what it takes to kill an enemy. A high caliber gun like the Desert Eagle or a shotgun will blow someone’s head clean off. And speaking of headshots, unless I became some kind of FPS god without me noticing, there is some considerable amount of aim assist going on. Granted, I played it on Normal – which is between Easy and Suicidal – but I’ll pretend the fact that you play as a fully trained Delta unit helps too…

Spec Ops The Line Mac

The game also encourages getting close and dirty as it has an interesting mechanic that allows you to execute fallen enemies you’ve shot down and as a reward you get more ammo (and possibly a grenade!).

 

Presentation

Audio is what really makes the game shine. The voice acting alone made the story come alive – whoever did the voice-acting wasn’t paid enough!

But even if voices were that good, the thing I loved the most were the sounds effects. There is an impressive level of authenticity here, and it was achieved thanks to the attention to details throughout the game.  For example, surround sound management was well done, including tiny nuances such as a squad mate’s voice seamlessly switching from natural to radio as they moved farther away.

Spec Ops The Line Mac

The UI was unobtrusive and enhanced playability in the best possible way. It felt so easy to use you forget that it’s there.

The graphics were the only downside to me, as the textures looked fake and “cartoonish”.  Not quite fitting with the seriousness of the story. I don’t know if my computer was to blame here, but it did take me out of the story a few times. That said, it was a little jarring at times but nothing overwhelming.

 

Performance

I played this game on max graphic settings at 1440×900 resolution and noticed some frame drops at times, which was surprising because I was rocking a late 2013 Macbook Pro 15” with an NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M and 2GBs of video memory.

I’m not sure why the game wasn’t smooth 100% of the time, but it actually happened more often during cut scenes. My fan ran for most of the time during the game, so I’m thinking this is a pretty demanding game.

Spec Ops The Line Mac

What was kind of cool was the fact The Line did properly run at 2880×1800 resolution (aka, Retina), but it made the Menu UI so small it was nearly unusable.

Minimum Requirements:

  • OSX: 10.7.5
  • Processor: Intel Dual Core processor
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Hard Disk Space: 6 GB free
  • Video Card: Radeon HD 4670/4850/4870

Recommended Requirements:

  • OSX: 10.7.5
  • Processor: Intel Dual Core processor
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Hard Disk Space: 6 GB free
  • Video Card: Radeon HD 5670/5750/5770/5870/6630/6750/6770/6970, GeForce 8800/9600/120/130/Quadro FX 5600, GeForce 9400/285/320/330/Quadro FX 4800, GeForce 640/650/660/675/680

 

Verdict

Good

  • Solid gameplay mechanics
  • Great voice acting and sounds effects
  • Amazing story

Bad

  • Weird textures in faces and objects
  • Stutters with even some of the best hardware
  • May give you nightmares…

Final Word

Spec Ops: The Line succeeds with what it sets out to do: truly immerse you in a surreal war-torn environment. For once, the story isn’t about hollywood moments or big explosions, it’s about what real humans would do in such unforgiven places.

Both gameplay and sounds work together brilliantly to enhance the game’s strong story, without getting in the way. The game is still fun on its own, with all its skillful shooting, expert cover acrobaties and simple squad management. Bottom line: Spec Ops The Line’s visceral story will transform you, in a way no other medium could.

You can get it from the Mac App Store.

Note from Ric: This Review comes from Justin Goff. You can find him on Twitter.