Two decades go a long way, except in the case of Yager Development. And it is that since it was founded in 1999, it has only developed four video games, not to mention that it was the first to take charge of Dead Island 2 in its beginnings. But this German studio has not fared badly, especially after seeing how the giant Tencent invested in the studio a few months after the premiere of The Cycle in 2019.
We all know, in any case, that Yager’s true success came from the shocking Spec Ops: The Line which premiered in 2012. A shooter what hid something inside to get away from the archetype of war, showing the serious consequences that an “innocent” rescue mission in Dubai could have.
Be careful, SPOILERS. Do not continue reading if you have not passed the story …
“The attempt to evacuate Dubai has failed”
Spec Ops: The Line It was not a game that showed all his starting cards, in fact he played the distraction with that start of his helicopter prologue, with no other concern other than shooting the rest of the enemy helicopters dodging skyscrapers in Dubai. After this, the calm, to put ourselves in position, with a message from Colonel Konrad warning that “the attempt to evacuate Dubai has failed”, with the aggravation that “there have been many deaths.”
Our role falls on Captain Martin Walker, whose life Konrad himself saved in an operation in Kabul, dragging him 800 meters to a rescue helicopter. For Walker, Konrad is “a fucking hero”, as he emphasizes in the opening scene, hence he felt the moral obligation to go in search of his superior to try to get him out of that hell surrounded by sandstorms
Aided by two more members of the Delta Force, Lieutenant Alphonso Adams and Sergeant John Lugo, we began the rescue mission to discover shortly that something strange was happening there. Without going any further, there are armed forces of the insurgents that have cornered part of the members of the battalion of “Los malditos del 33”, of which Konrad is part. That strong enemy presence did not bode well in Dubai, although this was more of a distraction at first …
As we advanced, certain pieces of evidence emerged that questioned the actions of Battalion 33 led by Konrad, to the point of discovering that in the last six months in Dubai they had applied martial law. The mission was getting complicated little by little, when a CIA agent came into play who not only leads a squad of insurgents, but also stands up to us.
From there, the vision of what the Delta Force team considered an enemy, begins to blur, having to suffer friendly fire in front of another outpost of the damned 33. That is when Walker’s group begins to suspect that they are deserters. The mission to find Konrad is getting complicated and other names come into play, such as Agent Gould, a priori, the only ally in Dubai capable of explaining to us what the hell was happening there. Or who is hiding behind the announcer.
The damned of 33 and the mortar massacre
The harshness of the sandy streets of Dubai was showing its worst side, as when seeing multiple soldiers hanged in the streetlights. This was a war and there were still too many unknowns to solve, but clearly someone had to pay for it. At this point in the story, the game was enabling a series of critical resolution moral decisions, opting for good or evil. At least, in theory, because there were gray and dark tones, in certain scenes …
Ironically, a key later scene in the plot didn’t allow us to choose. After seeing how the damned of 33 assassinated agent Gould and Walker’s group followed the trail of another agent, also from the CIA (Riggs), we arrived, not without effort and with team morale in low hours, to a camp in the 33 with strong enemy presence. Here we could not decide: Walker makes it clear that there is no choice and that you have to use the mortar with white phosphorus to burn all those deserters. In addition, the game forced us to use the mortar, otherwise they would kill us when we discovered our heads on that roof that gave us an advantage.
With the mortar, the chamber changed radically, showing the image in black and white, making it clear that all the enemies that came out in white had to be shot, without neglecting the armed vehicles either. As the shots fell, the smoke from the fire was clouding the screen, but the game itself took us again by the hand, not allowing us to leave that screen until no one else was left standing. Even what looked like a huge cage …
Yes, because the damned of 33 had kidnapped a group of civilians in one of the most remote areas, the one that looked like a huge cage. But the game forced us to shoot there too. Walker had to go through that trance. 47 innocents from whom we took their lives, as we learned right after.
From there, Walker began a nosedive due to the atrocity he had just committed and of which we had been forced witnesses. As much as Walker himself held Konrad responsible for this massacre, to deceive himself, the rescue mission had completely mutated into something more macabre that would eventually take its toll on his mental integrity. And in fact, Spec Ops: The Line began to play progressively with what Walker perceived on screen, reaching a catatonic state after Lugo’s death almost at the end, having to “fight” against him thinking that he was a soldier in heavy armor. Walker was delirious.
It was clear that all this was going to get worse, as it did. Walker finally found Konrad atop the Burj Khalifa … to discover that he was already dead. His body lay there, prompting Walker to another critical decision: to shoot the “Konrad in the mirror” who did not stop talking to him after reaching that floor, or to commit suicide and end his own suffering. Because Walker was carrying the weight of guilt.
In that same room, one of the last intelligence messages clarified (in case there were any doubts) what had happened to the general whom he admired so much:
My name is John Konrad. Commanding Officer of Battalion 33. Husband of Elizabeth and father of Jeremy. If you’re reading this, the 33 dropout is no longer a secret. I have failed in my mission. What’s worse, I’ve failed my men. If any of them are alive, let them know that they are innocent. As their officer, I forced them, under duress, to stay in Dubai. To disobey your orders. I am the only one to blame.
Walker said shortly before the revelation of Konrad’s suicide, that “what happened was beyond my control.” The massacre of the camp, with those 47 innocent civilians, completely devastated it, provoking post-traumatic hallucinations in which you thought you were talking to Konrad. He wanted to blame his superior for what happened there, but he was fooling himself. Spec Ops: The Line He reinforced that situation by recalling key scenes from the past, until he ended up repeating Konrad’s first message, with double meaning at the end of the terrible journey:
The attempt to evacuate Dubai has failed. There have been … many deaths …
Why Walker went from hero to villain after the camp massacre and everything that came after. What was supposed to be a rescue mission turned out to be a full-blown slaughter, regardless of the side. There the game tried to be slightly benevolent in the end, giving us an option to “redeem” ourselves by laying down our arms in the epilogue to the new soldiers arriving to evacuate the area. If we do not resist, they will evacuate us wondering in surprise how we managed to survive what happened in Dubai, with Walker replying that he has not, making it clear that he has not survived as such: is dead inside.
This epilogue, unlockable if we have not previously committed suicide in the “talk” with Konrad, is the one that gives the most game in the face of the elections, being able to die in crossfire against the soldiers or massacre them all and that Walker takes to the end the dark spiral that he unleashed with the 47 innocents in the camp and all the mess between the damned 33 and the CIA, as if nothing had happened there.