Two men hang from an overpass by their wrists. The man on the right stole water - a crime punishable by death in this ruined Dubai, a dust-dry city where the rogue General Konrad has made himself dictator.
The man dangling on the left is a soldier who murdered a family while trying to capture a thief. Both are guilty. One will die. You're surrounded by snipers and Konrad insists you choose which.
Spec Ops The Line was announced in late 2009, but went off the grid for two years - we'd all but forgotten it, if we're honest. But last month it re-emerged almost fully-formed.
It's taken them a while, but Berlin-based studio Yager have built a smart, gimmick-resistant shooter that puts up a better fight than any other Gears of War-alike - and tells a better story than any Ghost Recon.
When massive sandstorms hit Dubai, Konrad and his regiment (the 33rd) went in to evacuate the civilians. One year later and nobody has heard a word from the half-buried city, so Captain Walker and his squad are sent in on a recon mission.
They find a city made Konrad's personal kingdom, at war with itself. Looters exploit everyone and dodge the 33rd; the 33rd mete out thug justice in Konrad's name; and bands of huddled civilians do their best to survive.
Over 90 minutes, we played three chapters from the first half of the game, and they delivered on what Yager promised two years ago. The Line is a descent into darkness.
By Chapter Eight the team is breaking down. You're always low on ammo, always at a disadvantage, and always morally compromised - sacrificing innocents to escape, or ignoring your mission to protect strangers.
When The Line hits shelves in the spring, you'll make choices that aren't about win or lose or right and wrong - only how well you lose, or how wrong you are. n
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