Spurred along by an adrenaline-soaked soundtrack (which I pray remains in the finished game), Walker and his team arrive at the demo's dramatic finale. Peering over the edge of a sandy ledge, a squad of soldiers can be seen interrogating an unarmed man. The hostage, we're told, is innocent, and the player is given full jurisdiction over the outcome of the situation. The way a player chooses to handle this situation will directly affect the subsequent story. "It's all about excruciating situations like these," says Kasavin, aware of the importance of choice is in this generation of games.
Although choice and consequence is far from a revolutionary mechanic, its implementation in Spec Ops is much more interesting than in the majority of games. Most games treat choice-based gameplay in a linear way: you press A for one outcome, B for another. It's often scripted and structured. In Spec Ops, your decisions are made in the heat of battle. In the example outlined above, with the hostage, how you tackle the situation in game will affect the outcome. You could shoot the enemy in question and save the day. You could fail to stop the murder in time and lose a key character. Or you could roll a grenade into the fray and blow everybody to kingdom come.
The choice and consequence mechanics certainly interested me, and while the one situation we saw was well crafted, I'm interested to see how similar situations pan out. Kasavin stressed the importance of narrative, which for me is an important element for a shooter. All too often the genre descends into a clichéd mess of testosterone-fuelled nonsense and poor character development. Based on Kasavin's comments, I hope that Spec Ops will be an exception to this rule, but as always, only time will tell.
While the game might be dressed in generic garments, the overall costume is actually quite interesting. The section of the game we saw was obviously well controlled and polished to perfection, but if the game as whole can maintain a similar level of quality, then Ghost Recon and Gears 3 could have bit of competition on their hands. Kasavin refused to comment on multiplayer, but did reveal that the game would be treated to a multiplayer beta at some point soon. Expect to hear more of Spec Ops around that time.
Spec Ops: The Line is due out on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC in 2011.