Options

[PATV] Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - Extra Credits Season 5, Ep. 2: Spec Ops: The Line (Part 2)

13

Posts

  • Options
    StarWallaceStarWallace Registered User regular
    The game was great... and it scared the genuine shit out of me... My favorite self hurt moment was one of the most subtle ones when you're fighting towards the radio man and he says something like "Man! whats with all the violence!? Ya know what i think man, i think it's the video games." at that moment i was crushed inside because a video game had point blank just told me to stop playing video games.

    I really only have one real gripe with it, which has been touched on by many others. The moment when you need to use the WP to get past the literal army of soldiers, you actually don't have a choice... the first time i played through, i tried not to and found myself endlessly being sniped by ALL the snipers. I don't like that, because if wanted to put myself through the hell of trying to survive fighting off the army, on the simple basis that it was wrong to use the mortar, i DON'T get to even try.

    In the end i had to let myself be shot... i just couldn't see letting that go unpunished, even if it was only a game.

  • Options
    Material DefenderMaterial Defender Registered User new member
    Will say, I always had issue with gunning down the vast majority of foes in gaming unless there is some reason not to care. Like robots and mindless clones. If there's a non-lethal route, I'll take it.

  • Options
    Ginsu48Ginsu48 Registered User new member
    EC just helped this game gain more profits.

  • Options
    motigistmotigist Registered User regular
    @motigist
    That's a nice writeup you did, but it isn't really accurate. Adams and Lugo had to do it because you said "that's an order"? Do I really need to bring up Nuremberg? If someone told you to brutally burn a mass of people alive, you'd just say "welp, he did say it's an order". They're both standing there with guns. They're not getting shot at, they know what they're about to do.

    As for the actual game mechanics, you don't have the choice to go down and try and go through the camp. You're just locked in a spot and can't go forward or back until you do the thing. Having people yelling about the 'choice' you have to make just emphasizes how broken that moment is.

    Developers have made a specific point out of this. It's actually Lugo who asks "That an order?" It's not Walker who uses his authority to force his squadmates, it's Lugo who uses that authority to clear his conscience.
    But that's not against your argument, I'm not saying Lugo or Adams are any better than Walker. I'm just saying that acting under orders (or psychotic fixation, as far as I can tell) gives the same sense of inevitability and discomfort everyone is rebelling about, only way stronger.

  • Options
    tygerttygert Registered User regular
    edited September 2012
    @StarWallace

    "I really only have one real gripe with it, which has been touched on by many others. The moment when you need to use the WP to get past the literal army of soldiers, you actually don't have a choice... the first time i played through, i tried not to and found myself endlessly being sniped by ALL the snipers."

    I have to disagree, again, with people feeling that the WP scene should be a choice. A few reasons:

    1) The WP scene is central to how Walker goes insane. It is essential, narratively, for Walker to order the WP strikes and have that burden on his conscience.

    2) It is a tragic moment that forces him and the player to confront the fact that civilian casualties have and always will be a reality of war. The Line is all about what war looks like when seen through the lens of the medium of video games--one of the big things you rarely ever see in a video game are civilians getting trapped in a war zone or getting inadvertently killed by friendly forces. Doesn't this seem a bit odd? In urban landscapes, civilian casualties have generally seemed inevitable in every recently fought war I can think of. The Line can't just 'forget' about this gruesome detail if it wants to be a discussion about the misrepresentation of war in video games.

    3) I'm wondering whether people gripe about being forced to commit a simulated war crime (other than at least a little grumping being the standard civilised-human response to this sort of thing) because they feel there should be another choice. The dialog hints there's another option when Lugo says 'There's always a choice', even though Walker immediately crushes that option by saying 'There really isn't'. Some people have said the other choice is to stop playing the game. Others, like Star Wallace, clearly think they should be able to fight through the horde. I don't think either attacking without the WP or turning off the game is really the choice Lugo's talking about. I think the choice is one that Errant Signal mentions in his YouTube review: At any time, Walker (NOT YOU, but WALKER) can turn around and go home. He can walk out of the city and stop trying to fix whatever horrific s%&^ is going down, not least of all because his only tool is to shoot people (another awesome part of this game: when deciding moral choices, the only tool you have to decide is pulling a trigger. Appropriate for an FPS, no?). Thing is, Walker never gets this option because this never, ever happens in video games. The player keeps trying to solve a big world-ending problem, even when it's clearly too big for them to handle, until they succeed. Generally in many popular AAA titles, they succeed by murdering people (hell, even in Mass Effect, a game which has a 'debate boss' option and a Paragon path, Shepard's still probably the most bloodstained person in the galaxy by the time the credits roll!). This flies in the face of what anyone with a pulse might expect to happen instead: A lot of bodies stack up, and the 'hero' either ends up dead or crazy.

    In sum, when Lugo says 'There's always a choice', Walker has a choice--or, in real life, should. You, as someone playing a video game, do not.

    4) One of the other arguments against the WP scene is that the game tries to indict the player for committing a war crime immediately after forcing them to do so. Generalizing, the main criticism against this game is that it attacks players for playing violent video games and/or games which glorify war in general.

    It does not.

    The Line expresses two viewpoints about the overuse of violence and the misrepresentation of war which are rampant in the video gaming medium: Walker's and Konrad's. Walker thinks that what happened in Dubai is Konrad's fault and Konrad thinks that while things turned out bad to start, really it was Walker that made things go completely haywire. Each man feels that what happened in Dubai is the other one's fault, and it's a sort of chicken-and-egg debate. Konrad, the developer, 'created' Dubai. He's the one who is ultimately responsible for having his soldiers stay there, and the one who first gave the orders to commit war crimes to keep people in line, and his actions caused the CIA to come in and clean up his mess. Walker, the player, comes in later and becomes responsible for destroying Dubai. What's interesting is that both men are foils of one another and ultimately committed horrific acts due to the same misguided well-meaning sentiment: They both think they have the power to fix Dubai using violence. They apply to reality the kinds of themes and ideas which are rife in the video gaming medium and they find how horribly different things turn out when you try to apply them in a 'real' warzone. As a more general theme, I think the conflict between Walker and Konrad is an allegory for the debate about who's responsible for the way video games portray violence and war: Is it Konrad (the developer who makes the games), or Walker (the player that plays them)?

    And yes, the game does ask you this question and it doesn't ram a preachy theme about video game violence being the player's fault down your throat. Right at the end of the game, the player gets to pick who's responsible for what's happened. They can shoot Konrad, or Walker. If they shoot Walker the game ends there and then. The players need to pick better games to play for video games to avoid the Dubai problem, the end.

    What's interesting is the after-credits ending if you pick Konrad. An American evacuation team shows up to get Walker out of there, and Walker has the option to go with them or kill them.

    Killing the American evac team is a pretty odd and messed-up decision, even for Walker to make: He can rationalize killing the 33rd but these could be the same guys he served with in the outside world. The only way this makes sense for his character is if, the entire game, he's just wanted to shoot people for fun. Does this sound familiar? It's the same rationale we've all heard from people who don't much care for narrative in video games. 'They're just games, I just like shooting people. Not because I want to in real life, but because the video game makes it a challenge and ultimately it's only banal entertainment'. Fair enough, says the game. If you just want to shoot people, if that's what you've been doing the whole time, you can. Heck, once you're finished Walker even tells the rest of the world 'Welcome to Dubai', and heads back down there to wait for others to show up so the fun can start again. It seems like a disturbed choice to make, but only in the context of real life. Maybe video games can/should live in Dubai forever. Maybe some people just like it that way, and the developers should just cater to them.

    If you choose to surrender, of course, the game emphasizes the jarring disconnect between the way you've been behaving the whole game (shooting people) and the way you seem to think there can still be a happy ending: Walker's last words before the game ends are 'Who says I (survived)?' It's slightly insane to think that developers can keep all this violence in video games and at the same time cater to an audience that wants stronger narrative and, well, art. It's impossible to reconcile the two.

    I think I've talked enough. If anybody's still around to read this, sorry for the text wall.

    tygert on
  • Options
    Alighieri71Alighieri71 Registered User new member
    This is a fantastic game. I bought it on EC's recommendation and managed to finish it before this particular episode. I'm very happy to have bought it and it has now become my go-to example whenever I talk to anyone about video games as a story telling medium. I have never been as personally affected by a game like this since I saw Brenda Brathwaite's "Train".

    An aside to @Tygert 's reply. I believe we have to view The Line as two separate halves. Before the WP, the game was just any other shooter. It's the Act 1, that sets the stage, introduces the characters and creates the context that we need to best appreciate the rest of the game.

    It's only after we were forced to use the WP that the tone really shifted and we finally get into the meat and potatoes of the narrative. The character models get darker, the underlying feel of the game visibly shifts so that we start feeling like we're falling into Walker's insanity. It's a large powerful act, one that has to be jarring enough to shock whatever sensibility you do have as a player so you can see for yourself Walker's fall from grace.

    That's why the WP is a necessary part of the story.

    Also, the morality system is the best thing I have ever seen from a video game. I would love to see this become the norm in any game going forward that requires a analysis of morality.

    3 cheers to Yager. This is how you tell a story with a video game.

  • Options
    20x20 Productions20x20 Productions Registered User new member
    edited September 2012
    I particularly like that exact end of the game when the Army rolls in, and they tell you to put your gun down. You have to choice of Shooting all of them, or putting it down. From that moment you have Three Ending, all which prove the game's point. The Ending where you Kill everybody makes the Character think, "The Game must go on, I must keep playing". The Ending where you Fight but then Die critisizes the player for believeing that he'll just respawn, which is not the case. The last ending, whihc was my choice, was to put down the gun/controller, and think about how the whole experience has changed me, good and bad. I give it an "A" for a lot more than just effort.

    Also thanks for making me aware that this game was more than just another passable shooter game.

    20x20 Productions on
  • Options
    RecycledHeroRecycledHero Registered User regular
    I played this game because of EC's last video and now that I finished it I can't thank EC enough for recommending it. The guys below me cover anything and everything i would say mostly... lol. None the less this game needs to played someway somehow once in every modern gamers life. Thanks EC!

  • Options
    The_MormegilThe_Mormegil Registered User regular
    First things first, I play RPGs mostly - if not only - and I never played a FPS (I tried one and I don't like the genre for a variety of reasons), so I don't believe the experience this game provides would be as good for me as it would be for other people. However, some things in this review caught my attention.

    Well, this is the kind of direction I expected games to take, and RPGs in particular. This is what I expected Skyrim to be like. Not necessarily taking on deep dramatic themes like PTD, but the freedom of choice, the introspection, the character's psychological growth - your OWN psychological growth. I didn't think it was possible to engage the player *directly* at such level, and indeed I suspect it would be difficult for other genres / games, and probably outright impossible without breaking the fourth wall a few times; however, the growth of an alter-ego would be very satisfying nonetheless as an experience. I expected RPGs to go in this direction, to grant freedom of choice, rather than freedom of roaming, to be focused on character growth rather than world-dressing. The examples listed in this review are the sort of lateral thinking support I would gladly see in upcoming titles.

  • Options
    The_MormegilThe_Mormegil Registered User regular
    First things first, I play RPGs mostly - if not only - and I never played a FPS (I tried one and I don't like the genre for a variety of reasons), so I don't believe the experience this game provides would be as good for me as it would be for other people. However, some things in this review caught my attention.

    Well, this is the kind of direction I expected games to take, and RPGs in particular. This is what I expected Skyrim to be like. Not necessarily taking on deep dramatic themes like PTD, but the freedom of choice, the introspection, the character's psychological growth - your OWN psychological growth. I didn't think it was possible to engage the player *directly* at such level, and indeed I suspect it would be difficult for other genres / games, and probably outright impossible without breaking the fourth wall a few times; however, the growth of an alter-ego would be very satisfying nonetheless as an experience. I expected RPGs to go in this direction, to grant freedom of choice, rather than freedom of roaming, to be focused on character growth rather than world-dressing. The examples listed in this review are the sort of lateral thinking support I would gladly see in upcoming titles.

  • Options
    RaginRednecKRaginRednecK Registered User regular
    edited September 2012
    I found this game entirely disturbing. However I do not say this as a negative sort of comment. I found it disturbing and hurtful in the same way that platoon was disturbing, or apocalypse now was disturbing. This is an issue that needs to be discussed and I am happy that at least one studio wanted to come up with an adult way of presenting this argument into the AAA media. This is an incredibly difficult issue to tackle, and the actual news media has been unwilling to do so without bias. I agree this game was not, NOT, fun. However there were chords of it that rang true for me as a combat veteran. I have seen far to many of my brothers relegated to the "crazy" category after coming back from a conflict zone and this title did an excelent job of portraying the denial that many PTSD sufferers deal with. Not so much the actual symptoms though some of those are close. But the inward denial of anything even having the remotest posibility of being wrong, this is an ongoing problem for anyone who has gone through that particular sort of hell. The inability to understand or admit that something is seriously wrong and that perhaps you need help. The jabs against the modern genre of gaming that are present were secondary to me after that rather complex interpretation of the real problem that comes with PTSD, Denial.

    RaginRednecK on
  • Options
    SinrusSinrus Registered User regular
    @The_Mormegil

    I think the problem with character growth in RPGs is that many Western RPGs focus on the idea of freedom of choice while JRPGs focus on following the arch of a character. Yager had a relatively easy time since they had a strong mechanical base to design their choices around. RPGs tend to lack that due to the focus on "do my numbers beat your numbers?" In order to offset this, they create Characters that the Player likes, and then filter choices through "choosing" Characters to support. Other times they do it through moral quandries where there are two uncomfortable choices. Unfortunately, most RPGs only explore choice through dialogue boxes or telling the player what to do. They exist in this strange world of freedom and restriction but have yet to find a balance.

  • Options
    SinrusSinrus Registered User regular
    @override367

    The important thing about that scenario was to create a situation that you could not win without superior weaponry. It wanted to put you in a situation that soldiers face in real life, a situation where there is no other choice (assuming you want to progress forward). Not only that, but they wanted you, the player to make the choice. It's a matter of becoming one with Walker, deciding if you and him are the same person, or different people. As a player, you had no choice if you wanted to proceed forward and Walker also saw the situation as one without choice (although the end of the game reveals that he had a choice all along).

    As for "No matter where on the screen you fire the mortar you commit a war crime." Are you saying that you should've had the option to not unwittingly kill the civilians? Was such a shot even possible? Or, perhaps more importantly, would Walker know to take such a precise shot?

  • Options
    SinrusSinrus Registered User regular
    @multiplexer

    I think the important question is: what are the mechanics designed to do? In the Modern Warfare games, the mechanics are designed for you to be a quick-movin,, iron-sightin', face-stabbin' machine of death and destruction on the battlefield. Spec Ops mechanics aren't non-functional, they just aren't especially fun. You don't have lightning fast movement, you don't pop into sights take out a dude in a few shots, and then quickly zip around.

    The movement and shooting controls are almost identical to Gears of War and people don't complain about its mechanics being bad.

  • Options
    BluKardinalBluKardinal Registered User new member
    There is another layer to the WP scene that I have not seen discussed that much yet, specifically that it is yet another example of Spec Ops co-opting a classic shooter trope and turning it on its head to make a point. Most shooters and even most RPGs have what you might call “super-weapon moments.” The generic scenario involves the player being confronted by an overwhelming host of enemies, far to many to defeat using the conventional tactics and abilities that have gotten the gamer to this point. At the same time the player is given some kind of temporary super weapon or ability that enables them to overcome the obstacle. These moments serve two main purposes as I see it. First, they change up the ordinary mechanics and game play and provide a refreshing break from the style the player has grown accustomed to. Second, they feed into the heroic superman fantasy as the player gets to mow down huge numbers of enemies with minimal effort and easily triumph over what would be completely insurmountable odds for a mere mortal.

    The WP scene of course fits this scenario perfectly: Walker and his men are faced with dozens of heavily armed and dug in opponents that they don’t even have the ammunition to get through. Conveniently though, they are provided with a heavy mortar equipped with white phosphorous shells that allow them to easily kill off the entire enemy force in moments. The reason why the player isn’t given a choice about whether to use the mortar or not is because the player is almost never given a choice in other games whether to use the dragon/ion beam/whatever; you pick up and use the biggest and most destructive weapon available because that’s what you do in the game. The WP scene shows how absurd this scenario is and how damaging the mindset of blindly using the most powerful weapon available can be. It is also meant to once again contrast the game mindset with the mindset of the real world military. Most of the world’s militaries do not mindlessly use the most destructive weapon they have available precisely because of the consequences shown in the Spec Ops scene. Again, the game is showing how little resemblance “realistic” military shooters have to actual modern conflict.

  • Options
    override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    edited September 2012
    Sinrus wrote: »
    @override367

    The important thing about that scenario was to create a situation that you could not win without superior weaponry. It wanted to put you in a situation that soldiers face in real life, a situation where there is no other choice (assuming you want to progress forward). Not only that, but they wanted you, the player to make the choice. It's a matter of becoming one with Walker, deciding if you and him are the same person, or different people. As a player, you had no choice if you wanted to proceed forward and Walker also saw the situation as one without choice (although the end of the game reveals that he had a choice all along).

    As for "No matter where on the screen you fire the mortar you commit a war crime." Are you saying that you should've had the option to not unwittingly kill the civilians? Was such a shot even possible? Or, perhaps more importantly, would Walker know to take such a precise shot?

    If you fire the mortar way off it splashes over and hits the civilians regardless

    I feel there are any number of more elegant ways than having snipers infinitely respawn (and in the exact same location) to motivate you forward

    You can get all philosophical but to me, that section was just incredibly poorly designed. You might as well give me a write up about how invisible walls in Bionic Commando are a manifestation of the self imposed confines we put ourselves in as we undergo our daily routine

    override367 on
  • Options
    SinrusSinrus Registered User regular
    @override367


    Don't you think you are being hyperbolic? Superman 64 was incredibly poor designed, the WP section had an aspect that lacked elegance in execution. Which is a small mar on an excellent moment in the game unless the Player would not accept that he had to use the mortar. If you started shooting at the enemies, could you then change your decision at any time and use the mortar?

  • Options
    spiffy_Kingspiffy_King Registered User regular
    To everyone who is unhappy about the game forcing you to use WP, you do realize the point of forcing you to do that isn't to 'pull a fast one', it's to make you disconnect with Walker. The way you reacted is exactly the way it was designed to work, those people who tried to find another way out of the problem were told 'nope you have to use this thing that you don't want to use'. So naturally afterwards when you see the result you get pissy with the game, 'I didn't do that! I was forced to do that by the game'. It sounds like that part of the game did exactly what it was supposed to do; detach you from your actions. You deflect the blame because naturally it wasn't your choice, but it still bothers you. That fact is made obvious by all the fury posts about WP.

    Anyone who says it was 'bad design' is just nuts. Bad design means that on a whole the product was not well thought-out or put together. WP isn't anything like that. Every part of that section of the game was well designed. Forcing you into doing something and then calling you a war criminal for doing it, is not poor design, in fact it functions as I've said to achieve the games narrative goals. Hell, it even puts the player into the mindset of people who do commit war crimes. The underlings who through the chain of command are forced to commit horrid acts onto others. Of course those people don't blame themselves, they place the blame elsewhere. To those who claim the those soldiers could always say no, remember WP. Only two options existed: turn off the game (refuse and face an unknown) or do what you're told. I bet most of you ended up firing those Mortar shells, with barely a second thought.

  • Options
    spiffy_Kingspiffy_King Registered User regular
    edited September 2012
    Ooops double post ///

    spiffy_King on
  • Options
    Ryha2000Ryha2000 Game Designer/Engineer Boston MARegistered User regular
    Exactly spiffy_King, that is emphasized by the fact that you are presented with a clear (super contrived) moral choice right before the WP scene. Save the CIA agent or the civilians? The game says 'Here, see you are in control, you have a choice, you can do the right thing!' and then... next scene... takes that control away, forces you to commit the pivotal war crime of the game. That's not an accident, not bad design... it's on purpose... and it's brilliant design. It made you upset? ...well duh, kinda the point!

  • Options
    TheOnlyDTheOnlyD Registered User regular
    edited September 2012
    Spec Ops shows that serious issues can be handled maturely and thoughtfully. More games like this would help gamers to wake up and see that the military isn't as fun as CoD and Battlefield make it out to be. It has real impact that affects real people in harrowing ways. I would love to hear the story of 6 Days in Fallujah and would gladly hold this game up as proof that such stories can be told without trivialising the truth.

    Also, I definitely agree with spiffy_King in regards to the WP scene. I started firing and only after the first shell dropped near the end did I realise that the clump of people were civilians. I did not want to do that.

    TheOnlyD on
  • Options
    Mostlyjoe13Mostlyjoe13 Evil, Evil, Jump for joy! Registered User regular
    Please don't take this the wrong way. But in Video Games, I'm a trained sociopath. I've been habituated to murder and the most aggressive choice. As a person and NOT a player I can appreciate the narrative that Yager is pulling off here. As a player...just give me more targets to kill. Seriously, the 'kill everyone' option is just a valid and mentally rewarding option for someone who's spent years being trained to be an amoral goal oriented killing machine.

    I could get into the borderline sociopath issues that come in non video games like D&D where I watch players as reasonable people turn into monster/civilization killing monsters because it's 'just another dungeon' and go from there.

    So bravo Yager, but I wonder just how many people will 'get it'.

    (NOTE: Just because me as a player will shot you as much as look at you, doesn't mean me as a person operates under this ethos. It's a trained set of mind. And it really is only in games like this. Other non-combat oriented games don't trigger this mindset. But, with something like Thief...it took me a while to stop murdering all the guards because in my first play through I thought it was my most efficient option.)

    PSN ID - Mostlyjoe Steam ID -TheNotoriusRNG
  • Options
    lostedenlosteden Registered User regular
    A little late into the game here but I just wanted to agree and disagree with spiffy_King on the issue of the White Phosphorus. I don't feel like it was about disconnecting with Walker at all. I think it was the part of the game that was necessary to hammer home the point that a person cannot participate in war without committing an atrocity of some sort.

    Allowing players to control their earlier choices [and find ways around doing what you're told you have to do] enables them to appreciate that soldiers can and do try to do the right thing and still achieve their goals in some shape or form. As non-combatants we should appreciate that there are soldiers who do believe that they're fighting for the "good" side and some of them honestly do their utmost to limit civilian casualties and refrain from excessive force. Similarly, many players often try to play a wargame choosing to act like 'the good guy' while such games often paint your enemies as kitten-kicking villains.

    The point the WP episode enforces is that this is a woefully unrealistic fantasy and that inevitably even the most honorable soldiers come face to face with an inescapable scenario where their objective simply is unachievable without turning to methods with brutal consequences. There isn't some ingenious way to beat your enemies while still feeling good about yourself because there is no way to fight a war and not hurting 'innocents'.

    On another note, this particular episode does feel like the moment where the game throws its sharpest barbs at the state of real life modern warfare, particularly America's subjugation of Iraq and Afghanistan where the reality is that you can patiently take down as many snipers as you want but there will always be more to fill their place. The sad reality is that forces engaged in such an occupation will have to choose between peaceful approaches that permit the enemy to inflict losses and more aggressive measures that cause heavy collateral damage.

    In the end, the WP scenario essentially does have other less satisfying options left open to the player. He can let the enemy kill him rather than resorting to the barbaric weapon in order to achieve the objective the game [i.e. his generals] have directed him towards. Or he can drop his controller and walk away from the conflict. This is the overriding point the game makes, most obviously at the end.

  • Options
    lostedenlosteden Registered User regular
    People's issues with not being given much choice with the WP are quite amusing because it suggests they want to cling to the fantasy that they can plough through a warzone and still maintain some control of how clean their conscience is. Arguing the game should give you a choice here is as ridiculously unrealistic as thinking everything would be alright if all soldiers were allowed to refuse to follow orders they disagreed with.

    War doesn't work that way and neither does this wargame.

  • Options
    tygerttygert Registered User regular
    @TheOnlyD

    "More games like this would help gamers to wake up and see that the military isn't as fun as CoD and Battlefield make it out to be."

    A reminder is in order here. There was a previous AAA FPS title that examined war in a subversive and harrowing way. A video game which presented soldiers as mortal, error-prone human beings. A game which examined the potential cost of nuclear proliferation by including a level where the player crawls through a nuclear-blasted wasteland in the body of a dying Marine before finally succumbing to radiation poisoning. A game which examined the moral consequences of black ops counter-terrorism tactics, going so far as to show torture and even, in the opening level, badass spec ops commandos killing civilians in cold blood ('Crew Expendable'). A game which was utterly undermined and discredited by its sequels, which appear to be written by a senile version of Tom Clancy while his head was stuck in a lathe.

    Let us have a moment of silence, then, for Call of Duty 4.

  • Options
    lordhobanlordhoban Registered User regular
    Interesting discussion and thread, though it's not a game I'd ever care to play, nor all the battlefield/call of duty games, either... but definitely interesting to lay out and discuss.

  • Options
    Hawkmoon269Hawkmoon269 Registered User regular
    I just finished playing Spec Ops, and it's probably the best game I've played all year. Not because it's *better* than other games I've played, but for all the reasons outlined here. This is a game all gamers should play, whether they're a modern war game fan or not.

  • Options
    The Doc CCThe Doc CC Registered User regular
    I have to take issue with LostEden's posts.

    He argues eloquently but based on a faulty assumption. Walker grossly exceeded his orders very early in the game. Furthermore, you -must- disobey an order which would result in a war crime. There is no defense of "I was following orders." According to the Rome Statute, you have no defense of Superior Orders unless:

    (a) The person was under a legal obligation to obey orders of the Government or the superior in question;
    (b) The person did not know that the order was unlawful; and
    (c) The order was not manifestly unlawful.

    Walker should have known that the order was unlawful (he's a Captain and a Delta operator), and therefore he has no defense. He grossly exceeded his initial orders early in the game and was even called out by his squadmates on it. Walker is a war criminal because -he- decided to do what he did. Walker stepped out of line on his own initiative. He fulfilled his mission and then just kept damned going. (The game calls you out on it. One loading screen asks, "Can you even remember why you are here?") The game wanted you to understand that, because -you-, the player, are stepping way out of line in your wish-fulfillment fantasy desire to be a tough-guy hero.

    Finally, if a mission cannot be completed except through the commission of a war crime, it must be scrubbed. "I had a mission to complete," is also not a defense. And remember, Walker exceeded his mission parameters a long time ago. (He also blindly refused to try communicating with the 33rd after the blue-on-blue incident to prevent further acts, but that's besides the point.)

    On a personal note, as a young medic years ago I had to treat patients who were hours ago enemy combatants responsible for the deaths of eleven civilians. I did what was right because I chose to. Each person makes his or her own decisions. He or she maintains their values and sense of right - or not. Walker failed that test spectacularly. An equally compelling story is one where the protagonist maintains his sense of right in a world gone mad. Spec Ops is Apocalypse Now; I'm waiting for gaming to show me it can do Platoon.

  • Options
    fumpfump Registered User regular
    I thought the Helicopter scene was about reflection personally. This game should of gone out on more of a limb, push those boundaries push! ;)

  • Options
    KnnOsKnnOs Registered User regular
    Once upon a time I wrote a very poor paper about the "wanting to be a hero" issue because it's something that comes up, again and again, in the games we play, and at least for myself, I take as one of my particular weaknesses. I don't play a lot of pure shooters (the last time I did was original Counter-Strike, to give you an impression) but most games serve to reinforce that heroic quality, shooter or no. And then you sit and think about the mountain of corpses that your Paladin/Jedi/Shepard have left to get to level Z or to the "good" ending and it all starts to fall apart. It's like in Freeman's Mind, where he basically has that thought; did escaping and shutting down this portal really justify the MASS MURDER I've committed?

    Is there value in wanting to be the hero? In the games we play, that heroic quality is accomplished almost invariably with a lot of bloodshed, but separate that and look at the broader picture. First we have to ask ourselves, do our conceptions of heroes always accomplish things through violent means? I have to say no, as it is most common to refer to our police officers, firefighters and first responders as heroes, and it is bloody well we do. While one might argue that a police officer must be prepared to do violence in their line of work, that isn't what MAKES them heroic.

    That's an interesting point, actually (stream of consciousness writing is the BEST writing... right?). In many games, it's either explicitly stated or implied that the violence one does is to prevent harm to others, and that is what makes someone heroic. Aaron Allston identified this, very directly, about Wedge Antilles who says in Starfighters of Adumar, "'But if I put myself in the way of people just as bad as the ones who killed my family, if I burn them down, then someone else they would have hurt gets to stay happy. That's the only honorable thing about my profession. It's not the killing. It's making the galaxy a little better.'" Is this an acceptable justification?

    Not for us as the players, or not entirely, because there IS a whole power thing tied up here. We don't just want to protect people, if we did we'd be down at a local shelter handing out blankets and talking to people instead of playing games. Working in these places can create a very powerless feeling; even when one is helping, there is always the certain knowledge that one can never do enough, can never fix the problem. And that's what games give us, a trillion little problems that can be solved and forever put away as "complete". But this fulfillment doesn't match life. In a certain sense, wanting to be a hero is preventing us from wanting to do real good in our communities.

    But is that fair? I mean we all need some downtime. So we read a book about a clever imp rallying a city's defenses, we play a game about a not-so-vaguely messianic figure saving the galaxy, we make the choices that feel moral in the game world. But I think it's entirely possible that, although I wouldn't ever argue that games make us more violent or accepting of violence in our immediate world, they do make us more accepting of the notion that, to accomplish goals, sometimes you have to kill a lot of people.

  • Options
    fumpfump Registered User regular
    edited September 2013
    "Once upon a time... sometimes you have to kill a lot of people."
    persuasive ideas such as this that are the real danger, you are not funny nor are you smart you are the opposite of.

    fump on
  • Options
    RoyceSraphimRoyceSraphim Registered User regular
    This episode and these comments make me all the happier for beating most of Swat 4 with little to no fatalities.

  • Options
    DriscolDriscol __BANNED USERS regular
    Thank you for getting me to rent this amazing game, you only scratch the surface of how amazing of an experience it was. The ending had me in cold sweat.

    I would love to see a day where we could get a "serial killer" game or a spree shooter game (before somebody says that would never be done, Hitman and GTA respectively are both of those things if you remove the story) with that level of delving into the protagonists mind. I wouldn't want to just rip off that concept, I want to go full force David Lynch style where it's not so much "hallucinations" as it is just experiencing the game as a thing within the mind, everything happening simply a mental reflection, the protagonists interpretation, of the real world events affecting the person.

  • Options
    DriscolDriscol __BANNED USERS regular
    Interesting that the group is called the "33rd" I would rather not receive hate mail for saying why that interests me but just search "33rd" and see what you get if you are interested. In a game this deep, I doubt it was a coincidence.

  • Options
    DriscolDriscol __BANNED USERS regular
    edited December 2012
    Sorry one more thing, I loved how well they did the WP part, really taking you out of the experience at the exact same moment that Walker dissociated from his actions in the same way. Bringing you to a similar psychological point with the character by disconnecting you from the character is clever to a new level.

    Driscol on
  • Options
    Evil TimEvil Tim Registered User new member
    edited December 2012
    Doublepost

    Evil Tim on
  • Options
    Evil TimEvil Tim Registered User new member
    edited December 2012
    The Doc CC:

    You're missing one point, which is actions taken under duress. You are not considered responsible for actions taken under threat of death or torture. This undermines games like Bioshock and Spec Ops which force you to abide by the narrative either under pain of death (you die if you don't use the mortar) or simply by narrowing options (you can never do anything else when Atlas "would you kindlys" you).

    This is the problem with both games; they never have you opt in with a choice to defy the narrative by making a non-gamey assumption, because they don't have the confidence that you'll actually do it. You *wouldn't* double back and leave at the start of Spec Ops even if it were possible because it's not how games work, but when you go back and realise you can't it means that everything that follows is ultimately not your doing, but something you were compelled to do by the restrictions imposed on you. Same in Bioshock; the *real* option would be to stay on the tower and wait for rescue, but the player won't try waiting eight real-life hours for a boat to show up and take them home. That undermines what happens later because you, the player, haven't made the assumption that justifies the narrative, you've just been given no other ability.

    That's not to say you should have been given the option to not use the WP in Spec Ops (though murdering a group of soldiers trying to protect civilians by any means is going to work for the point they hit you with, even if the civilians don't die), but you need to be given a choice *somewhere* so the game can point to it and say "but you *didn't* have to do this."

    To be honest, Spec Ops is more about highlighting the craziness of the narrative and what it forces the player to become, not simply blaming the player for the decisions the story foists on them. If you read it the other way then it doesn't work. In that way it's more designed to criticise developers for what they force players to become, not players for wanting to play the hero. The average FPS hero isn't actually very heroic when you look at what he does and how it affects him.

    The game's biggest weakness is it attracts pretentious left wingers who want to pretend they dislike CoD for reasons more sophisticated than that it's popular and kind of dumb, so they read it as some searing indictment of first-person shooters for saying that game mechanics don't make sense if real-life rules are applied to them. Which means they see this game as no more sophisticated than 50% of episodes of Reboot. They're the same kind of people who would say Pac-Man is a critique of unrestrained consumerism because the player goes into the ghosts' maze and eats everything.

    Evil Tim on
  • Options
    themocawthemocaw Registered User regular
    You know, it's always interested me that people complained about the WP but not about all the other times leading up to it there the game forces you to kill or quit: the first American soldier, the civvies who turn on you in the game's first encounter, etc. etc. so on and so forth. Is shooting out a window and burying some terrified civilians who are scared that you are just another bunch of American goons like the ones that have turned Dubai into a war torn hell so much different? Maybe it's because they had guns. Maybe it's because they fit perfectly into our insurgent=target to be killed without regret paradigm.

    You literally never had a choice. But you didn't realize that until the WP drove that home.

  • Options
    KitFezKitFez Registered User regular
    This might be a good time to link you guys to the most recent episode of my YouTube show, in which I talk about Spec Ops (and analyse the points of a criticism video from the previous topic on these forums). But in case you don't want to watch it, the fact that the game doesn't afford you a real choice is part of what makes it clever; it swiftly becomes apparent that Walker is not who all the abuse is focused on - why didn't you, the player, just stop?



  • Options
    PlatiniusPlatinius Registered User new member
    edited January 2013
    As a former soldier (though not US american who btw do not have a not very sterling reputation in my army to put it politely) who did a tour of duty, I felt myself reminded of when I was in the field, often enough upon coming back into camp and normal life (and life in a safe camp can be quite normal I assure you) felt strangely surreal (perhaps that is what you describe as uncanny) and it took me a few minutes or an hour or two to accept again it as the actual normal world, that that is the normal world and the normal life and that that what I did outside was, while as mind-crushingly real as the blood in your veins or the bullets in your rifle, not the norm, that the heightened sense of stress and danger is the extraordinary. And I admit that I have never drunk that much alcohol over the course of a few months than then, not much by the standards of what most of my comrades drank even at home, but to me it was a lot and from that point on I understood why so many workers and people in general drank so much alcohol, that they actually needed these light breaks from reality and stress-free moments they get from a quite drink and a smoke (or in my case cuban cigar, I am not joking here, I only did that during my tour of duty). If you ever heard of the "two cans" rule, it didn't count for us, we were allowed to drink as much as we want after working hours so long as we didn't cause a scene (and we didn't).

    On an interesting note, on the situation where one had to dissipate the crowd, my training kicked and I shot in the air without really thinking about it.
    That has to do with the appropriate response to a given situation and the escalation of violence, it takes time to entirely explain, the point is, one does what is necessary and only what is necessary, to drive unarmed people back an one step by step escalates, first warnings then threats then cocking your gun then warning shot and if that is not enough one is really in trouble, remember "unarmed people", because if they are still coming at you, you have too shoot them, your first duty is to protect yourself and than your comrades (whom you need to survive) and only much later comes the rest of the world, so you have to respond with what means you have left and getting yourself killed by an angry mob because you didn't want to hurt them is NOT an option.
    So, I fell back on my training, without thinking (I only realized later that I did it) and fired a warning shot to defend my life, had it not worked, I would have gunned them all down, because the alternative is MY death and the death of my COMRADES and that is NEVER an option. Certainly and without hesitation I admit I would have felt very bad about the violence, but I would also have know with certainty that I had tried to solve the problem to the best of my conscience and ability and thus would have known that I have done what I could to save myself and them and needn't have such a bad feeling gnawing in my gut (though it would probably still be there and honestly, one should be really worried if it weren't there). That is also the reason why I shot the american soldiers without much or even any hesitation, not sure which is true here. Don't worry, I noticed from the beginning that killing my supposed brothers in arms is very strange, even if it isn't my nation or even a nation I particularly like (no need to worry I don't hate you either, where I come from it's the general consensus that the average US american is just not very smart :P no offense ;) ) As a matter of fact, I wondered why they attacked me despite clearly appearing as an ally, but hey that is what made the game interesting, is it not?

    On a second note, did try not to shoot any of the two people (and I also wondered why someone would do such a test, it was totally surreal and completely unnecessary, as if me the player, the person behind the screen was asked to save one life and end another to see what person I would save, to force me to choose where and when I definitely don't know enough to make an informed choice, just to see what kind of rules or personality traits I would prioritize) during the "test", but that try didn't work so I just rolled with the given options (turned out I was wrong on that one, but hey in the end it is "just" a good game which allowed me to take a risk and try again and no actual people were harmed)

    Finally, I have to say that I agree, war is a harrowing experience, everybody comes back with a few wounds, mostly psychological one, but these heal, and once they are healed, (slight scars might remain) you are strengthened for it, becoming veteran gave me a much more balanced outlook on our problems at home and my personal problems. Suddenly they seemed much smaller and more manageable. As a matter of fact, a few months after I returned home, I left the army and started studying again. After all I had endured, following my personal dreams didn't seem so hard anymore, I had faced actual poverty (material and intellectual), discrimination, corruption, death and war. So, what is studying what you actually like compared to that?

    Platinius on
Sign In or Register to comment.