Spec Ops: The Line Isn’t Profound, It’s a Shooter

I hate shooters.

I just thought I should get that out of the way up front. They’re just too busy trying to be self-important and Epic and cover a Grand Scope and really Touch On The Human Condition to step down from their lofty, ambitious pedestals to realize that the genre hasn’t really changed much since 1993. John Carmack said during the development of Doom, Quake, and Id’s early games that shooters don’t need a story – that the action and flow of a shooter is actually broken up by trying to shoehorn Meaning or Story or really anything greater than mere Context.

In the days since Doom and Quake, almost nothing has changed with the format of the shooter. The past 20 years has seen cutscenes inserted between levels to try and give us some sort of Reason to be moving from room to room killing things. But aside from the cinematics, and a significant graphical overhaul, the modern shooter is pretty much functionally identical to Doom.

Doom is a game that is, by its own admission, unashamedly about nothing more than killing lots and lots of things.

Upon the release of Spec Ops: The Line, the buzz was that finally – finally – here was a shooter that provided real gravity and feelings of consequence to all the standard mindless shooter violence and actually said something.

The problem is, Spec Ops: The Line is still, for better or worse, a shooter.

The story in Spec Ops is a loose reimagining of Francis Ford Coppola’s film Apocalypse Now which is itself a loose reimagining of Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness. That in and of itself should clue you in to the level of simulacra we’re dealing with right off the bat. The Colonel who the player character (voiced by the “at-this-point-’ubiquitous’-is-an-understatement” Nolan North, by the way) is searching for is even named ‘Konrad’ – cute, eh? The basic premise is that a team of American soldiers is sent into Dubai to search for more American soldiers and are forced to fight their way out of a complete shitstorm, learning firsthand about the horror and dehumanizing nature of war, all while shooting about seventy-gazillion “insurgents” in the face along the way.

And that, ultimately, is the problem. Mechanically speaking, the shooter is still stuck back in the Doom days, still blasting away aliens/terrorists/whatever with a depraved grin while spattering the screen with a spray of red, just enjoying the sport of it. Stuffing a bunch of cutscenes and distressed-sounding barks in a shooter doesn’t suddenly give the on-screen slaughter Meaning. Telling players what “their” character is supposed to think about the violence through cinematics does nothing except get in the way of the killing.

Shooters are specific in that oftentimes the only way players can interact with the world is through the barrels of their guns. This tautological observation means that shooters, by their very design nature, encourage a string of constant violence; players’ interactions with the world are inherently destructive, as they are either passing through a world, or shooting it. As a result, the “violence” in shooters has been sterilized, as it is the only interaction the player can carry out. Shooter violence does not carry the emotional weight of its real-life counterpart. It is, as the games’ sole mechanic, just another type of problem solving, like jumping gaps or pushing blocks.

THIS IS THE PARAGRAPH WITH THE SPOILERS, IF YOU CARE ABOUT THAT SORT OF THING

There is a moment in Spec Ops: The Line that is often cited as a pivotal example of the Impact that the game is touted for conveying. At one point, you and your squad need to cross a courtyard patrolled by a platoon of hostile American soldiers. Rather than engage in what would certainly be a suicidal firefight, your team decides to shell the soldiers with white phosphorous from a nearby mortar. As you hear the soldiers screaming and dying as they immolate, you can tell It is one of those moments that was supposed to be very heavy-hitting and Significant.

Ironically, it was one of the moments during which I felt more detached from the violence on screen. This is partially because the action is viewed through the infrared scope of the targeting drone overhead, but partially because, in the scope of the game as a whole, the violence was no more meaningful than any of the other killing I had been doing up to that point. The game had spent its entirety up to that point desensitizing me to mass violence, and now all of a sudden, for a very arbitrary, artificial reason, I’m supposed to care?

Spec Ops is very keen in its latter half to take every opportunity to remind you of the fact that the nameless, faceless characters you are mowing down are Americans. It even goes so far as to insert a loading screen blurb that reads “how many Americans have you killed today,” just to remind you that these characters/targets/masses of pixels mean more than those others that you’ve been killing and that you should Feel Something about it.

However, there is functionally speaking no difference between the Americans you kill in the second half of the game and the Insurgents you kill in the first half, except that their barks are delivered in American accents instead of Arab accents. Like every other shooter peon enemy ever, they are ubiquitous and facially obscured; they shoot at you. Telling us through cutscenes that these characters are somehow more important than other characters and that we should feel differently about killing them rings laughably hollow.

The biggest flaw present in Spec Ops: The Line is that it is still just a shooter. It tries to make a point about how horrible violence is within a genre that is at best apathetic about violence and at worst totally enamored with it. Throughout my playthrough of Spec Ops I killed just as much, if not more, than I have in any other shooter, and it was just as meaningless. Telling me it should hold more meaning doesn’t make it so.

This is the fatal flaw present in shooters today: they’re trying so hard to advance storytelling conventions but neglecting to advance the way the games are actually played; in short, they’re taking Doom and trying to tell us it’s A Farewell To Arms. Some developers have realized that the way shooters are played hasn’t changed, and instead opted to change the way the story is presented instead.

Look at Far Cry 2, a game that has no story to speak of. It is a game in which, like other shooters, the player commits constant acts of heinous violence. Ingeniously, that is exactly what the game’s “story” is “about”: your character committing acts of heinous violence. The game provides very little Story or Context for you murder spree. It doesn’t deign to tell you what you should think about the killing you’re doing, no cutscenes to try and insert character feelings; it just has you kill. Far Cry 2’s lack of narrative heavy-handedness doesn’t just acknowledge that the killing in shooters is sterile and mechanical, it embraces it. It uses the shooter convention of  mass violence to  encourage you to become the cold, mechanical killer you portray on screen and then proceeds to not give a fuck about what that does or doesn’t Mean.

Spec Ops: The Line is a fun shooter. It is mechanically sound and snappily responsive and it does a fine job of making you want to play it. It is not, however, a profound shooter. It is a game that purports to treat on violence without realizing that its very foundation is built on a genre that is self-admittedly apathetic towards any deeper thematic discussion on the subject. I chuckled when one of Spec Ops’ loading screen blurbs provided the definition of cognitive dissonance; I wondered if the developers would ever pick up on the irony.

  • http://twitter.com/nolan_mcbride Nolan McBride

    Alright, I’m going to try to keep this short. I’ll probably fail at that.

    Spec Ops is most definitely a shooter. There’s no getting around that. Mechanically, it doesn’t add that much to the conversation. You run, shoot, take cover, throw grenades. It’s pretty standard but solid and smooth and (worst of all) entertaining.

    Why the game matters and how it separates itself from the pack is thought. Obviously, if you tune it out (which you can do with any piece of entertainment/art, especially when it involves action) or if you’re not into shooters, I can see how this might not be effective for you. But if you’re intimate with the conventions and have played a few too many (like myself), you’ll notice the game does a lot to make you consider your actions, even if you continue putting bullets in the back of brain pans. And if you intend to see the game through to its natural conclusion, you must do exactly that. That’s the point.

    Spec Ops’ strengths are in its variations and shades of other shooters, especially of the military variety.

    One example is the enemies. There is a slight correction to make regarding the terms you laid out: none of the enemies are insurgents. There are refugees of the storm, U.S. soldiers, and CIA operatives. In terms of innocence and culpability, the scale of villainy slides from the bottom to the top in that order. Seeing as it is a shooter and you use your gun to progress, you have to kill the people that stand in your way. But to contrast previous mili-shooters, you’re not supposed to feel satisfied or heroic or badass.

    Instead, I’m killing other people who have been driven to the edge by natural disaster. They’re all survivors and they’re all doing what’s necessary to survive. The same isn’t as true for the soldiers and the CIA. They lost their morals policing this unfathomable event. Most mili-shooters are wrought with heady nationalism and heroism; Spec Ops makes you feel like shit the whole time. I rarely understood upon which side of the conflict I stood and yet I had to persevere. The crux of the enemies in Spec Ops is that half of them are the people you were sent to rescue and the other half are the people who were sent to do the same months prior. Obviously, you can choose to ignore this just as you can choose to ignore any design decision in any game as a set of 1s & 0s, but this was a deliberate choice.

    Another example of how Yager played with expectations can be found in the scene you cited involving white phosphorous. When I reached the section, I scrambled atop that embankment for minutes, looking for any way to get out of firebombing these people. I thought there had to be some alternative. The game was touted for its “choice” moments, but much of the success there derives from its presentation of a choice that is rebuked seconds later. Most of those choice situations are also prompted by disagreements between Lugo and Adams. They play the Angel & Devil on your shoulder, but ultimately, Yager forces your hand.

    Looking more closely at the scene, it has a lot to analyze. First, the perspective is a direct reference to Call of Duty. This is their version of the AC-130 mission. Again, in CoD, this is a scene meant to illicit extreme power. You are high above in the sky, reigning down destruction on everyone. People (myself included) enjoy it because the power is so unjustly tipped in your favor. It’s a “These little ants down stand a chance against my big firecracker” mentality.

    As you begin destroying these people, you start to notice a couple things. First, the scene is purely black & white. This is not only a contrast to the game’s themes, but it completely neutralizes the effect of the violence. Another theme of the game is losing perspective amidst chaos. If you look closely, you’ll notice that you can see Walker reflected in the screen he stares at. As we’re looking at the screen, we nearly cease to be Walker (insert joke about being absorbed into technology/the digital world), but Yager makes a point to remind us that there is a human behind all this destruction and we are in control of him.

    Finally, after taking so many lives, you are forced to walk through the wreckage.

    In shooters, sections that force you to slow down (see: Gears of War) typically do so to deliver narrative or specific dialogue. That does take place here, but the major point is that you are forced to walk through what you have wrought. You can’t simply sprint through or ignore it. As you slowly trudge through melted corpses, some still alive reach out to you in vain. Whether or not you feel anything is predisposed upon your investment in the story/characters/game, but at the very least, the scene is “The Morning After” for these types of missions in mili-shooters, something rarely addressed.

    At the end of the scene, you find out about the civilians you killed. Again, investment is dependent upon your own feelings towards the game. That said, you just butchered the people you came to rescue. Not only butchered, but burned in horrible, painful fire. The point that this scene makes is that within instances of war, whether nation vs. nation or just people vs. people, violent conflict has no winners; everyone suffers. Simply participating in this (digital) conflict makes you a villain. This is something the game constantly reminds you of in cutscenes and in loading screens.

    If you had just stopped your foolhardy quest for heroism, you wouldn’t have killed all these people. In terms of the game, that means to stop playing and since you paid for it, few would do that. But in no unequivocal terms, the best outcome for these fictitious characters is the player never engaging. It’s a point reflected in the game’s narrative as Konrad and the Damned 33rd become villains in the situation in which they began as “heroes” (this also translates to pretty much all U.S. occupations in the last 25 years, where we “went to save people”). Basically, the moral here is that war destroys everything. It is a force of nature bigger than men with little guns. Involving yourself only leads to destruction that you probably didn’t intend or desire. A similar point is made about colonization in Heart of Darkness. Civilized though those men tried to be, they were cutting of the heads of savages while pampering their footwear.

    The game casts a pall on the idea of military or violent heroism. It also casts a pall on the idea of entertainment predicated on violent bloodshed. There is an unfortunate discrepancy in the form of cognitive dissonance when enjoying the game while it’s suggested that you’re amoral for doing so. But Spec Ops is also a game. More specifically, it’s a shooter. Rather than criminalizing players, the game seeks to use the vehicle of the shooter to raise questions surrounding this hobby/entertainment. It also manages to raise questions (done elsewhere previously and with better results) about war.

    Lastly, since I didn’t really get to discuss this and I’ve already overstayed my welcome, the game’s biggest strength isn’t necessarily choice but agency. This is juxtaposed against the theater of war. How much choice do you have when everyone surrounding you is packing heat and looking out for their own survival? It’s the same as the scene where refugees throw rocks at you and Adams. I resisted as long as I could but those refugees would have killed me (albeit with rocks, but when your health dips, your health dips). Spec Ops is so interesting because it constantly tries to provide you with options or outs, but ultimately, by the nature of its genre, you have to take part and you have to become a monster (dramatic yes, but true in this context). This is the same truth we face with war in real life.

    Spec Ops won’t change shooters forever. It won’t revolutionize anything. But if you’re willing to buy into its world (with some exceptions–like falling from the top of a skyscraper and being okay…), it has a lot to say about shooters, games, and war. At the very least, it raises questions–something few other shooters bother to do. Like I said before, the game separates itself from the pack with careful thought.

    Note: at one point, my browser freaked out and left the page. I nearly cried thinking all this time was wasted. Also, this took me like an hour and a half. Also, I’m retarded.

    • bob

      Yes, you are retarded.

  • http://twitter.com/HanFreakinSolo Patrick Lindsey

    Yeah, I get what you’re saying. My point is, especially with all the ‘choice’ segments in the game, that ultimately any choice you make is null and void since the game eradicates your decisions anyways. Maybe this was Yager trying to make a point about how much “agency” you actually have in war. I view it as the game still being constrained by the conventions of the genre.

    You mentioned you stood atop that balcony for a few minutes trying to find a way around firebombing the soldiers, but ultimately you had to. This point is actually really important – the game forces your hand in order to progress. So it’s not really that heavy hitting since, as players, we want to progress in the game and will happily do whatever it takes to do so, regardless of who we have to kill; it’s a similar situation to the “No Russian” mission in MW2. Yeah, mowing down civilians and police officers is terrible, but we all did it because we wanted to get to the next level. In a “real” war situation, the “real” Walker could have, at any point, stopped what he was doing. But we know when we boot the game up that we’re playing a shooter and so 90% of our time is going to be spent shooting. This is why Adams’ and Lugo’s objections sort of rang hollow, because they were ultimately nothing more than background furniture in a game that was first and foremost about killing.

    Ultimately I don’t think tactics like forcing you to walk through the devastation you’ve wrought is all that effective, because it’s not like we had any other choice in the matter. It’s not like we could have NOT killed them, and we just decided to and now we have to come face to face with our consequences. As players, we’re in it for the long haul from the get go. The experience may have been profound for Walker as a character, but the game utterly failed to reach me as a player in the way I think it was trying for because I have no choice. The game was, essentially, trying to make me feel bad about something it was forcing me to do all along, which is at best ineffective and at worst a poorly conceived “trick.”

    The only real difference between this game and say, Modern Warfare is the dialogue that takes place in Spec Ops is a lot more broody. The game does nothing over and above its dialogue choices and cutscene scripts to invoke the feeling of profound horror and regret it was going for. I found myself annoyed at the cutscenes as overwrought because they were taking place amidst very standard, very generic shooter-y fights interspersed with standard macho barks like “kill is fucking confirmed.”

    • http://twitter.com/luizpsc Luiz Paulo S Cruz

      I think the thing about it your choice don´t matters is like to show the only choice to stop all the murder is to the player itself stop playing, in the game world he can´t have choice, even Walker always tell he don´t have any choice, or alternative, we need to shoot people.

      Is like in Linear games, when he make something forced to the gameplay like, “press button to shot this guy´´ in Medal Of Honor Warfighter, but Walker talk like he don´t have options, to not take the blame, or the player.

      I think one of the messages of the game is, bad shit can happen if yo don´t a choice or your hand is forced, and then to not make you or me feel bad, we blame the game, the creators and thinking about yourself like only a tool of others, but we still continue to do the bad things.

      Sorry for any grammar mistakes, i still learning to write in english :3

  • http://www.facebook.com/nicholas.gatewood Nicholas Gatewood

    I guess that Bioshock, Deus Ex, Half-Life and Metal Gear Solid aren’t profound because they’re shooters and stealth games and the story elements get in the way of the gameplay, huh? I guess we shouldn’t ever try to include stories in our games because they get in the way of the gameplay, huh?

    What an idiotic article. I’m fine with the opinion that Spec Ops: The Line isn’t really all that good, but it’s outright stupid to claim that, at the end of the day, shooters shouldn’t try to have decent stories. You got your point across very poorly, dude, you shouldn’t be so broad in your statements.

    • http://twitter.com/HanFreakinSolo Patrick Lindsey

      Hi there!

      My point isn’t that shooters should avoid trying to have stories, it was that they need to include stories in a way that doesn’t clash so heavily with the style of play. Ultimately, shooters exist to maximize the amount of, well, shooting that you do. They are strictly action vessels, sort of be necessity; in a game like BioShock, shooting is quite literally the only thing you can do. Thus to try and include a “story” told primarily through cutscenes about how terrible violence and war is in a game that encourages, or rather, NECESSITATES you kill as much as possible in order to simply progress, is inconsistent.

      Incidentally, I think BioShock did a pretty alright job with the ‘challenge’ of story in a shooter, as a game about escape it makes sense that I’d be killing all of these people. The ultimate “message” of BioShock is the notion that acquiring power for the sake of it, in the objectivist, libertarian sense ultimately leads to destruction, which is interesting given the way they chose to overcome that classic shooter “lack of choice” with the whole “would you kindly” twist. Clint Hocking talks a lot about this in his article on Bioshock (http://clicknothing.typepad.com/click_nothing/2007/10/ludonarrative-d.html).

      Again, I’m by no means saying that shooter SHOULDN’T have stories, but rather that the shooter hasn’t mechanically progressed to a point where having a larger story MAKES SENSE within the confines of the game itself (with the exception of Far Cry 2, which I mentioned circumvents the problem rather elegantly).

      I appreciate you’re reading and responding!

  • Trev

    First off, great article. Very well written. I don’t completely agree with your opinion on the game, though I certainly respect it and how well you get your idea across. Secondly, if you want the gist of my over-sized comment without reading all the garble, feel free the skip to the last paragraph, but my ego thinks you’d be missing out if you did : P

    I played through Spec Ops once. I really enjoyed it and considered playing through it a second time, but what you’ve written about is certainly a part of why I can’t seem to bring myself to play the game again. However, I don’t think that Spec Ops was so empty only because it’s a shooter. I enjoy shooters and thought provoking RPG’s and puzzle games alike, but as far as Spec Ops is concerned, I found is so unappealing because it didn’t reach me emotionally.

    I don’t think that was totally due to the fact that the game follows the pattern of murderous violence so common in shooters, though likely it was a part of it, but because I was not connected to any of the characters whatsoever. In fact, the only character I cared for at all was the Radio Man and consequently the scenes he or his voice were in held my interest better than the rest of the entire story.

    I’ll refer to Gears of War for a quick reference. Gears was one hell of a shooter. I loved that game for it’s game play, but I was also enthralled by the story and the character development. The story progression held my interest, and more importantly the death of any pivotal characters actually made me feel a sense of loss. This was not so with Spec Ops. It’s characters were simply ghosts, empty shells that I cared as little for as the “pixel-masses” I was shooting. Their fates were of no concern to me and this can kill a story.

    Alternately, a game like Dead Island has little to no story or character development as far as I played through it. I made it through about six hours of mindless shooting, beating, stabbing, bad-mechanics driving, and awful character dialogue before I absolutely couldn’t play it anymore. Now I won’t hate on a game I haven’t finished, so I won’t say anymore on it. I don’t think Spec Ops doesn’t follow this formula anyway, but I think that it bears need to be referenced if we are to speculate on what gaming would be like if shooters had no story.

    Anyway, enough rambling. I agree to an extent with your sentiment that shooters are generally just better with less story and more action. What made this game less appealing for me was lacking character development and flopped attempts at provoking an emotional reaction in the viewer. However, I think that a great story can be woven in to a game like this correctly. It takes a huge effort on all members of a team to create something special like that. That’s how the truly great games are born anyway. It goes deeper than a mathematical formula for what makes a good game good and a bad game bad, as I’m sure you well understand. Thanks for your insight. I like your perspective.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dante.giuseppe.perrotta Dante Giuseppe Perrotta

    I’m not sure how much a general dislike of shooters can change someone’s opinion or perception of a game within the genre as a whole, but even halfway through the game I was beginning to understand the underlying message of the game, even if I wasn’t conscious of that understanding. Watch this: http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/spec-ops-the-line-part-2

    I’m glad I went through Spec Ops: The Line. I wish it had a better name, though at least Yager got to make their game, even if it had to be attached to a dead franchise. No matter. I agree with some of the comments made here, and I really did begin to question what I was doing and why I was doing it, as the person in control of the experiences being fed to me through my computer, by the developer. Also, I’m trying very hard not to use the words “play” or “game” because I feel that this is the first “game” I’ve “played” that doesn’t deserve those two misnomers applied to it. The developers themselves have said “We wanted to piss people off”, and I’m sure they did to many. If not piss me off, the game certainly made me question certain things, and shocked me a bit, which I’m sure is the next best thing when you’re trying to piss someone off.

    The insanity of it all has left me shaken after the fact. I just finished the game, within the last hour. In disbelief of it all, I did my best not to kill ‘innocents’ or the soldiers in the epilogue. And the crazy thing is, I feel something. For the first time, Spec Ops has made me feel like the choices I’ve made have consequences, where in the past, games attempting to have failed. I started Spec Ops yesterday morning, and stopped just after the white phosphorous scene. Picking up again today, I was hesitant because of just how sick with myself that scene made me. I actually was afraid to finish the story.

    Apart from that, I agree that shooters in general HAVE done a poor job of story, but some have succeeded. Regardless of the franchise’s popularity, I think the Halo series has always done a decent job, and I think implementation-wise, Bungie’s rendering of all the cutscenes using the game engine helped with the conveyance (I guess in Halo 4, 343 had to maintain a reasonable expectation in graphics quality, so those cutscenes look pre-rendered). Personally, I also would get upset and restart a checkpoint if Marines I’m with die, but that’s just me.

    Anyway I just wanted to make a few comments on Spec Ops, not the genre as a whole. It was not fun. But it was engaging, and I’ve recommended to several people that they buy it. It’s done more to mind-f**k me than any “mind-f**k” movie ever has.

    • yousuck

      If a game isn’t fun, it’s not worth buying. Derp.

      • RobotQuest

        Horror isn’t fun. The experience of a true horror game is about removing all your power and terrifying you. That isn’t fun. Sure, it’s an engaging experience, but who would call it fun?

  • Me

    It’s great to finally find someone else on the internet who agrees with me about this game, and exactly for the same reasons too.

    The mortar scene is actually what made me hate it. Your own impressions here are very much identical to mine… But to me there was something more that really annoyed me about it.

    When I got there, I didn’t want to use the mortar because it’s boring gameplay-wise. So I kept looking for other ways to take on the challenge of a clearly superior enemy, and that’s when it dawned on me: you have no choice but to use the mortar, you can’t even TRY to take on the enemy directly. When I saw that last part with all the civilians in it while bombing I knew right away what was coming up (since the writing in the game is very amateurish and predictable) and I saw right then and there that the game was very forced and manipulative in its attempt at a message. And that’s an issue. If you want to convey a message, the worst way to make it pass is to force it down my throat. That’s what Spec Ops: The Line did through the whole game after that point, taking every occasion it can to push in the idea that you’re an evil bastard for killing all of these people, when it doesn’t once give you the option not to (beyond turning the game off).

    I think the reason people are praising the story so much is just that they’re easily manipulated.

    • RobotQuest

      The lead writer wanted you to have that reaction. The game was never intended to “privilege” the player, the way Mass Effect or Fallout does with its player choice, because that isn’t how the world works. The whole game was about deconstructing the nationalist, gung ho hero complex that’s so prevalent in shooters, and linked to American interventionism. You have no power over the game’s universe, but why do you try to? Because you want to be a hero, despite signs screaming left right and centre that you’ll only cause more terrible things to happen.

  • Someone Else

    A lot of Spec Ops can go over your head- especially your first playthrough and especially if you don’t like shooters. I don’t like shooters either, and a lot was lost on me until I read a few interpretations and really thought about the game and how it was played. The first thing you have to realize about The Line, though, is that it isn’t meant to be fun- it’s meant to engage you on an emotional level and break away your expectations about what a shooter is supposed to do.

    You’re supposed to feel disconnected from the game. You’re not supposed to connect with any of the characters- they’re supposed to feel token and nonhuman. That’s partially why the gameplay is juxtaposed with tragic cutscenes. Basically, the game makes you do something it just told you not to do. Remember that loading screen?

    “Cognitive Dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two conflicting ideas simultaneously.”

    Basically, the game is telling you to stop and turn it off- which you might because it isn’t particularly fun and the game doesn’t cater to making you feel good about yourself. But you continue onwards- because that’s what you do in a game and completing it is supposed to feel rewarding.

    Did you feel rewarded by the end of the game? The game almost makes fun of you for playing it. The Radioman keeps reminding you of the crimes you pulled off, the loading screens asking you about the morality of the actions you are doing, and the power you’re given is almost absurd. For a game talking about the reality of murder and war, you sure are mowing through a lot of enemies while you keep surviving every bullet wound and explosion while falling out of a helicopter.

    It’s almost an open mockery of shooter games where it gives you all this power. It gives you a power fantasy and tells you that if you had this power you’d be doing horrible things with it. The game literally tells you that you are pathetic for trying to feel heroic for playing games built this way.

    So here you have the game guilting you while you play it anyways because that’s what you do with a game. It does use its gameplay to effect with the story. It’s a modern shooter that encourages you to shut off the game.

    You might think that I’m stretching my interpretation of it, but I’m definitely not the only one that has interpreted the game this way. It’s a different way that games can tell stories, this time speaking directly to the player and not the characters on the screen.

    So yes, you are mowing down a lot of enemies while being told about the horrors of war, but it does so for a specific purpose.