A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Spec Ops: The Line is a third-person military shooter brimming with graphic, blood-soaked violence. Unlike many such games, much of the violence presented here is crucial to a complex commentary that focuses on the nature and potential atrocities of morally grey conflicts and how such situations affect their participants. This pensive narrative actually intensifies the emotional impact of the horrors depicted, making it all the harder to watch scenes in which civilians are killed and trained soldiers go mad with misgivings. This is a game with extremely mature themes intended for adult audiences only.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
Inspired by the book Heart of Darkness, SPEC OPS: THE LINE is a third-person shooter in which players command a squad of three soldiers. The once-opulent city of Dubai lies in ruins, a victim of terrible, ongoing sandstorms that forced most of its inhabitants to flee months ago. The last American troops to enter the decimated metropolis simply disappeared. It’s up to your squad to discover what happened to them. However, as your trio of troops journey into the depths of the city they discover horrors that they never could have imagined, leading them to question their mission, their loyalty, and even their sanity. Outside of the story mode lie a collection of online multiplayer games that offer familiar objectives and rules.
Is it any good?
This tactical shooter is, weirdly, the polar opposite of most modern military games. It lacks the sort of Hollywood glitz and graphical polish that has come to be a signature of most games in the genre. Its cover-based shooting mechanics are clunky to the point of being occasionally frustrating. And its online mode seems more of an afterthought rather than the focus of the experience. As a game, it's below average.
However, it excels as an interactive story. The game boldly presents a variety of compellingly horrific and morally grey situations that draw players ever deeper into the twisted world that this Dubai severed from civilization has become. Part Lord of the Flies, part Apocalypse Now, it depicts some of the worst things that people can do to each other and shows in unflinching detail the consequences felt by both victims and perpetrators. Spec Ops: The Line may not be much fun to play, but there's little chance you’ll forget the dark and thought-provoking tale it tells.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. Can violence ever serve an important narrative purpose? If yes, what is the impact on age appropriateness?
Families can also discuss online safety. How can you tell if the strangers you chat with online are safe? What precautions do you take when interacting with others in text lobbies and while using voice-enabled headsets?
- Platforms: PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
- Subjects: Social Studies: global awareness
- Skills: Collaboration: cooperation, teamwork
Thinking & Reasoning: strategy
- Price: $59.99
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: 2K Games
- Release date: June 26, 2012
- Genre: Third-Person Shooter
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
Our editors recommend
For kids who love fast action in their games
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.