Interviews// Reviving the Spec Ops Franchise

Posted 7 Feb 2012 18:00 by
All things considered, from what I?m seeing Yager is doing an astounding job in restoring faith in the Spec Ops franchise - particularly seeing as the last one was some ten years ago, was a budget title and was a critical and commercial mess.

Frison is not ignorant of the troubles the series has had, but instead the plan is to reboot with a game worthy of AAA status. ?We weren?t really worried about the reputation of the franchise.

?It?s a strange situation, because we?re trying to do something new and reboot the franchise, so there?s not a direct connection between the last game and this one.

"The biggest thing was that we felt that the name really reflected the feel of tactical military operations. We don?t really see this as a direct continuation of the earlier games.?

One scene in particular - which I?ve been threatened at gunpoint (so to speak) not to spoil - really changes the nuances of the game in all aspects: the morality, the overall narrative and the gameplay scenarios that you get to experience.

It?s a truly immersive, hard-hitting scene that results in your own squad?s trust in you fraying. I asked Frison about the challenges in portraying such sequences on a cinematic level while having to keep the player engaged.

?It?s definitely difficult to get the tone right on these things, and... I think one of the more difficult things, actually, is that it?s become common in games to have violence be something that?s giddy and fun,? he explains.

?It?s actually a challenge in itself to show violence in a way that is emotionally impactful, because we?ve gotten so used to chopping some guy in half and seeing blood spraying everywhere.?

Instead of trying to evoke an excited response from the player, in the same way a SUDA51 title might, the idea is to ?show something that?s equally gruesome but in a hard-hitting way.? In terms of pulling such scenes off, Frison puts it all down to good writing and acting, along with having believable characters.

?It?s definitely a challenge to present scenes like this in games,? he notes, ?but I think there?s also a little bit of an advantage over something like film. Certain scenes can actually be easier to make impactful in a game because you feel more immersed and a part of the experience. I feel that you automatically give a little extra weight to these things because you are the person who is in control of these events.?

We?re currently in an era where modern military shooters dominate the video games industry. Does Frison believe that this will continue, or have we reached a saturation point? ?You know, I?m not sure. I think there?s still plenty of room to tell new stories. Even before this ?modern combat? renaissance, the war story has always been one of these classic stories of human beings. There?s something really visceral and integral to the human condition.

?Maybe ten years from now we won?t be playing modern military shooters. Who knows? But I think war games in general will always stay impactful. And honestly - I think modern military shooters still have a lot of life in them. There?s been a lot of games that explore the Michael Bay style of things, and we?re trying to do a different take on that. We?re doing something a little more serious and a little darker.?

Spec Ops: The Line will be released on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC on 12th April.
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