I just wrote a review of the military shooter Spec Ops: The Line and how it tries (but only mostly succeeds) in deconstructing its own genre.
(Warning: There is no way for me to discuss the themes of 2012’s Spec Ops: The Line without also discussing the plot so there will be spoilers for the story. Major spoilers. If you haven’t played the game and don’t want the story ruined, don’t read any further)
Video games have not traditionally been a medium where messages of social import have been discussed. 2013 was a banner year for socially conscious gaming: whether that was the LGBT coming-of-age tale from Gone Home or the the soul-crushing despair of being a border-agent in Papers, Please or the anti-jingoist message of Bioshock Infinite, games were taking risks by actually having something to say. But, for most of gaming’s history, games were either mechanics-focused or narrative-focused, but at all times, it was about imbuing players with a sense of power and accomplishment.
Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid series was the first…
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