After more than a year missing in action, 2K shooter Spec Ops: The Line finally returned from its wander in the desert yesterday with an impressive trailer.
First announced in 2009 and described as "a provocative and gripping third-person modern military shooter," the Yager-developed title's now turned up looking very much like a horror game.
CVG foot soldier Nick Cowen took an updated look at The Line - you can read all of his thoughts in our Spec Ops: The Line preview - and described it as "garish, grisly and disturbing," adding that the shooter "looks set to carve out a rather dark niche in an overcrowded field."
After witnessing the game's resurrection, Nick caught up with 2K's senior producer Denby Grace and Yager's associate producer Michael Kempson to talk Dubai, canned co-op and traumatising gamers.
At one point in the narrative, we were presented with a choice between shooting a civilian and shooting soldier. Are there more choices like this in the game and do they have any bearing on future events in the narrative?
DG:The main narrative is pretty linear. Well, there's obviously stuff in the narrative we can't talk about right now for spoiler reasons. The way we approached these choices is that they sort of create small branches, which dovetail back into the main story arch. You'll see small instances where some expositions or some gameplay is a little different because of the choices you made, but ultimately it all comes back to the same story.
MK: The ambush after the scene you're talking about, for example, is going to happen regardless of the choice you make. That's a set event.
DG: The choices deal with the many story arch of Konrad's relationship with Walker and the player. He wants to see where your moral line is and he wants to push you right to the edge of it.
Konrad's madness looms large over the entire campaign - well, at least what we've been allowed to play. Without going into spoiler territory, can you reveal if the source of his madness will be revealed in the game?
DG: Oh yes! Oh yeah, we'll be teasing to something in the near future, but we're not saying anything right now.
Let's talk a bit about the location. Dubai after the sandstorms looks quite otherworldy. There's a sense when you're playing it that you're wandering through an apocalypse in the desert.
DG: Well, one of the reasons we chose Dubai for the location is so the player would feel quite cut off from the rest of the world. I mean, obviously, we're not making any statements about capitalism or global warming or any crap like that. But in our heads, you could conceivably cut Dubai off from the rest of the world with some sort of natural disaster - six months down the line, nothing would be heard from anyone in the city. That's the scene we wanted to set.
One of the things we also wanted to do was to use contrasting environments to build a unique picture for gamers. You have these beautiful, stylised skyscrapers that are all shattered and broken. You have these opulent-looking rooms filled with corpses. It's a pretty unique place for a game - and for a film as well, come to think of it - but again, we're not using it to make any social or political statements. Its strength is seeing those contrasts side by side.
Walker's leading two other guys through Dubai. Will the game feature co-op in the campaign?
DG: We looked at it and thought about how it would work alongside what we wanted to achieve with Spec Ops: The Line. The short answer is, no, there isn't one. The reason for this is that if we had three players or more than one player in the game, the focus in the narrative shifts. We want players to experience Walker's story, the dynamic between him and his squad and the challenges he goes through because of Konrad.