Spec Ops: The Line

Dubai or not Dubai?

"Seen anything cool?" asks the Spec Ops producer as we file into his comfortable little gamescom prison. Nobody says anything.

"BioShock," I cheerily volunteer.

The Spec Ops man tries to look happy about this news, but you can tell it's not his favourite answer. "Yeah," he says. "A lot of people are saying that."

The stunning BioShock Infinite demo is a tough act to follow, but Spec Ops: The Line has a go anyway. We begin with Captain Nolan North (sorry, Martin Walker) and two of his Delta pals inching through the crushed and fractured interior of a Dubai skyscraper. Walker's in Dubai to find Colonel Konrad, the former leader of a local training camp. Konrad has taken over the city in the aftermath of a faintly apocalyptic sandstorm which has otherwise consumed it.

Walker and colleagues give us a brief sit-rep. The city's a warzone, with looters and Konrad's men in violent competition for loot and territory. The Delta chaps need to find Konrad but they also have to contend with Gould, the man who was sent in to find him first. Off they trot.

First they need to get out of this building - a collapsed hotel - so they make their way down a staircase into the lobby, pausing on the way to admire a pair of gigantic jewel-encrusted giraffes, which tower over a cramped but lush little garden imprisoned beneath a circle of shiny glass.

As they cross the floor there's a rumbling above and a bit of sand breaks through the ceiling, along with the tumbling, flailing body of a soldier. He lands with a crunch, leaving an impressive snowflake of cracks and a pool of blood on the glass.

Walk the line.

One minute later and we're outside on a highway, still not shooting anybody, but somebody's getting some action in - there's a big firefight going on in a nearby street that we're overlooking, and one of Walker's men identifies Gould issuing orders to other soldiers as they engage a rival force. As we watch, a helicopter reinforces them but then takes a hit and rakes the face of a nearby office building before exploding.

Things then get grisly as we march down the highway and see a soldier hanged from a street light. As Walker turns a corner and stares down the road, we see there are dozens of them as far as the eye can see. Someone's been busy.

It's time to get into the action though, because there are looters at work beneath the highway, scavenging from an armoured personnel carrier. Walker issues instructions to his men and they carefully circle the bad guys, moving slickly from cover to cover without being spotted. Then we engage.

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