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Game of the Year: Spec Ops

Posted on the 26 December 2012 by Findthebluekey @FindTheBlueKey
Game of the Year: Spec OpsSo we're coming up on the closing days of the year, the season where all of those legitimate gaming publications are announcing their picks for Game of the Year. So then that leaves me, with my delusions aspirations of legitimacy, wanting to follow suit. But really, it's not about following along or jumping on the bandwagon, it's about recognizing the games that push the boundaries of our medium. Every so often, a game comes along that challenges are perceptions about the state of the industry, and allows us to explore facets in gaming that have thus far been unexplored. That is the type of game I want to recognize as the game of the year.
So on that note, I'm happy to say that my personal choice for Game of the Year is Spec Ops: The Line.
It was an interesting process, narrowing down my choices for this. There are a number of games that I have played for longer, immersed myself in more, and had more 'fun' playing, but yet I could never bring myself to rank any of them higher than Spec Ops. This is because no matter what its flaws may be, and it certainly has its fair share, few things can touch Spec Ops: The Line as an experience.
Here we have a game that was unafraid to go against the common grain of the industry. In a time when modern military shooters run rampant, full of self-righteous, good vs. evil moralism, Spec Ops was willing to go against this tried and true formula. Further still, it managed to take those preconceived notions we carry with us from the genre and actively use them against us, shaping the game into something extraordinary. What we have left is an experience that sticks with you, and makes you actively question the choices you make in game.
What Spec Ops does better than almost every other game I've seen is implementing a set of moral choices. Moral choice systems are nothing new to times, often taking the form of morality bars. With Good and Evil, Paragon and Renegade or whatever the labels are being tied to specific choices in game and usually content or options within the game. Spec Ops has no such system, instead presenting you with several scenarios during gameplay, and forcing you to deal with it however you see fit. These, I find, are far more affecting than their good and evil counterparts. And I remember every decision I've made.
Spec Ops doesn't shy away from big ideas, and that is what makes it extraordinary. It doesn't try and make the main character a paragon of military virtue. Instead, it forces you to question his actions, and by extension your own. It's hard to come out of Spec Ops without feeling sombre and contemplative.
Spec Ops: The Line is my Game of the Year because it is an experience that sticks with you. Some great games come and go, and are then forgotten, but not Spec Ops. I feel like my view of military shooters is changed thanks to this game, and is the kind of risk the industry could stand to take more often.

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