Spec ops: The Line Analysis
(Be warned: huge spoilers included!)
Still working on this a bit, but if you have anything you would like to contribute that I may have not included let me know! (:
There are messages all across this game, from the storyline to the games menu screens, the first menu screen shows us the American flag blowing in the wind, the flag is actually upside down and torn, possibly hinting at a broken and destructive America.
Once the difficulty setting has been chosen your 3 man team is straight away put in a helicopter fight, from here you cause destruction on the helicopters and the surrounding bulidings. Lugo asks during this shoot-out “How many of them are there?” and Walker replies “it doesn’t matter” showing a lack of care about the fact they are causing so much carnage. A sandstorm rolls in and we then see one of the shot down helicopters collide towards us and then the screen turns black with the title appearing and showing us a cut scene about Knorad from an earlier stage.
From Walkers voice over the impression is given that he admires Konrad, like he said “the mans a fucking hero”. We then hear the recording that has sent Walker, Lugo and Adams to Dubai.
The relationships between the characters starts off fairly light as they are joking with one another as they walk through the storm wall, As they are walking through the desolate landscape, Captain Walker states their mission is to ‘locate survivors, leave the city immediately and radio command from beyond the storm wall’. As you delve further into this game, they and even you as a player seem to forget about this as we go further and further into Dubai.
We also hear in the background the recording of what John Konrad said, this made me think that this message could have been recorded a long time before they even listened to it, have they even got here on time? A firefight soon follows between you and your men against the locals who you were originally supposed to be evacuating.
The mission then diverts as we are sent to help Alpha Patrol, once they have been found a cut scene then plays, Adams actually reminds Captain Walker that they are straying away from their orders, Walker then states that their mission went from “recon to rescue’ after they found US soldiers butchered, giving the impression that he is wanting to be a hero, it is also as if he wants praise from Konrad.
Near the start of chapter two we then begin hearing music playing, and hear a radioman mentioning that it is the end of the cease fire. This could give the impression that there was really no violence here until we arrived.
In chapter three there is a conversation between the three men, this consists of Adams yet again reminding Walker and Lugo that they did infact come here to save these people. But then Lugo states that these people are just out for blood and there isn’t room for communication. Walker yet again mentions Konrad saying that once they find him, he will be able to answer all of their questions, at this point there is a question of Captain Walker becoming obsessive of the idea of ‘saving’ Konrad.
There is then a large firefight, once this is over and they make it through the sandstorm they travel down the open elevator shaft, Walker says just before they do “Lets see what’s down the rabbit-hole”, hinting that we are going further into the possible madness and insanity just like Alice in wonderland.
We then move on to chapter four, here one of the first intel items we can collect is a child’s doll, here walker questions if they are infact killing the people they originally came to dubi to save, if this is the case we have to question why are they still even here? He doesn’t seem to want to back down and wishes to still carry on, even though what they are doing, killing these survivors could be wrong and even against what konrad was trying to protect. When we continue we can see a graffiti image on the wall above the stairs, this seemed to me to a man wrapped in what looks like an American flag holding weapons in each hand, like some sort avenging angel.
Further into the level we are shown that there were a line of soldiers who have been executed, behind this we see some graffiti like images which are of children, they look to have had their eyes scratched over, so they can’t see what’s happening in front of them, also the shadow for a second at this point makes it look as if Lugo has his gun pointed at one of them on the wall.
They then find another member who we believe is from Alpha Patrol, theres distrust between the two different parties and their discussion doesn’t end well with no information being shared. Walker states that he isn’t about to shoot at American soldiers but soon after they rappel down the hole, they have to begin shooting back, it sounds as though they believe us to be with the CIA and this simple mistake and miscommunication causes more death at your hands.
After a shootout walker and his two men run past a banner which reads “No fire arms in the camp” this message has clearly been ignored by all of the soldiers here including Captain Walker. Walker states that they are fighting “rouge soldiers” not Americans, and that they are not acting as part of the American Government, yet they actually were “bucking orders” in the first place and they shouldn’t even be here. And yet again his high opinion of Konrad is brought up, he states that he would never go against his duties, and that he knows the man.
The men witness that the civilians are being rounded up, they just actually assume that they are planning to kill them they never actually witness this or stop and think about the possibility that they may even be trying to help them and yet again they end up shooting one another. A song then starts playing over the radio which Is called ‘bad vibrations’ which fits in with what is actually happening.
As we continue through the game we are now trying to locate a member of the CIA in hope that they can then find konrad, on the subject of konrad there is a billboard which is barely noticeable after you’ve crossed the zipline which seems to feature his face which could be linked with Walkers growing obsession with the man.
We later move to chapter 6 “The Pit”, this begins with Captain Walker falling to the bottom of “the gorge”, all the light here has gone and it almost seems like he has fallen into hell, he is surrounded by enemies and alone until he can regroup.
During a fight where you take the turret a billboard lay just in front for you to see which shows a family having a good time here and a flock of birds over head, this shows a contrast between what was advertised and what Dubi has now become, the same image is then used again as you go through the door and see the dead which lie here, this time, we can see that their eyes have been scratched over again to hide from them the horrible situation which has happened here.
Walking further down the hall we then see the bodies of American soldiers who have been lined up and executed by supposedly their own men, behind them is an American flag with its stars blacked over this is a reaccuring image which is shown often after this point of the game.
A small cut scene is played just before the start of chapter 7, here Walker states that it isn’t just about finding Konrad anymore, its about doing “whats right”, he seems to still want to just prove himself, yet they don’t really know whats right in this situation. Yet as soon as he walks to Gould on the radio he asks about any sign of Konrad so he is still lingering at the back of his mind. Another fact that backs this up is that once we are outside, there is another billboard to the right and yet again Konrads face is clearly visible once again showing Walkers obsession.
We then see another billboard as we walk down a path, this one features a man about to shoot himself, beneath the billboard there are bodies, this shows that if you are witnessing these acts, maybe this is what you would turn into, this also relates to the trophy “farewell to arms”.
When we finally catch up with Gould and we see another image of a women in the background while they are questioning him, again, this image has her eyes blacked out so that she can’t witness the destruction happening here.
Once they find Gould dead, they Lugo and Adams begin fighting with one another about the situation, pushing the blame on one another until Walker intervenes. They are beginning to fall apart. We also see in the next cutscene that Walker is atctually becoming more angry as the situation accelerates, this is shown in the tone of voice and the amount at which he is swearing at his own men.
In the next room which they walk through there is a tree in the centre, with leaves covering it, it appears healthy, but if we look back again, all the leaves have fallen from its branches and it is in fact lifeless, reflecting Captain Walkers sanity and maybe this is all Dubai really is, dead.
Another moral decision has to be made, white phosphorus is located near by and it seems as though that is their only option of reaching the gate ahead so they fire on your call at the enemy troops. Lugo seems reluctant to follow out these orders but Captain Walker seems to have no problem as he orders “burn them”.
We then walk upon the destruction which Walker has caused, we then see a cutscene showing that they had ended up killing the civilians, Lugo blames Walker for his decision, and how he has made them “killers”. Walker wants to make the 33rd pay for what has been done here, he blames them for the destruction that he himself has caused, he was here to save these people but in the end he was the one who killed them. Walker is now talking with Konrad, after the conversation he then comes to the conclusion that it was all Konrads fault, all of it.
When they steal the water with Riggs, you see civilians shouting abuse and throwing rocks at them, this shows that they are basically stealing from them, not the 33rd, they are stealing the civilians water, their lifeline.
Further in chapter 10 part 2 you follow a zipline where Walker lands on a soldier who then appears to him as Adams, sending him mad, he “executes” him violently with all the strength he has, Adams seems shocked at this scene.
When they reach the radioman he seems eager to give himself up, he allows them to use his eqioptment to attept to broadcast a message to the whole of Dubai, Once Lugo has the information he needs he quickly turns round and kills him straight away, stating that he did “what was necessary”, this shows that he like Walker is slowly losing control of himself. Once you get to the helicopter, for really no reason at all walker insists on flying around the entire building slaughtering any enemy troops who are left and bringing the entire building down, he doesn’t seem to care at all anymore about the havoc he has caused or any of the damage which he has done.
Once you start flying away from the radio building we then end up in the same situation that it put us in at the start of the game, Walker states “we did this already” linking back to that start of the game. So technically all of what we have just played through has already happened. In the end everything just took its course, you could never save the survivors even if you wanted/tried to, it had already been set in motion, it was only a flash back after the helicopters collide.
Once Walker meets back up with Adams they then go looking for Lugo, they find him killed by local civilians, this inevitably came from what they had done in Dubai, you and either shoot the civilians for revenge or allow them to escape. After this event Adams becomes even more hostile towards Walker blaming him for Lugos death.
After several fights you will reach an area where a heavy shall burst through the doors, who actually appears as Lugo. (above image) He taunts and insults Walker, saying that “you are no fucking hero” this is part of is imagination, he has clearly become insane and is fighting with himself in this own mind, what’s happened is too much to bare, although he blames himself he doesn’t’ want to believe the truth, that it really is his own fault. If you died in this section of the story, a small scene would show up for a few seconds, this seems to show the dead civilians who he had killed while humming twinkle twinkle little star which I believe to be partly referencing Walker as “the traveller in the dark” I have included theses sections from the song below –
“Then the traveller in the dark,
Thanks you for your tiny spark,
He could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are”
“As your bright and tiny spark,
Lights the traveller in the dark”
Later they are surrounded and ordered to surrender, Adams refuses and sacrafices himself so that Walker could have a chance to get to Dubais tower, to finally reach his goal.
Endings – “Do You Feel Like a Hero Yet?”
So here Walker is, the place where he wanted to really reach, his main personal goal in this whole situation, The tower is surrounded by references to water, life, the tower was the life of Dubai, and that (the water) had been taken away by him and Riggs.
So we then walk upon John, who tells Walker that it is all his fault what has happened, when confronted he tries to deny his guilt, that none of it was his fault it was all John Konrad. But as you walk to the end of the balcony we discover the horrible truth of the matter, that Konrad is dead and Walker has gone completely insane. Konrad explains the situation, that none of this would have happened if Walker had just stopped, Walker still wants to deny the eveidence which is right in front of him.
You are faced with different choices and different outcomes at this point, if you let Konrad finish the count down you will see in the mirror that you shoot yourself, as Walker couldn’t take what he had done, no one survives what happened in Dubai. You can also choose to kill konrad before he pulls the trigger, the mirror smashes and him with it, showing that you have accepted your guilt and accepted that it was all your fault, A member of the 33rd appears behind Walker and starts talking with him yet once he turns he has actually disappeared showing that they were never there either the same as Konrad. At the end he states that there are “one too many” survivors, he doesn’t believe he is worthy of staying alive.
If you chose to shoot Konrad then a rescue team come to find you, if you go with them the driver asks Walker survived all this to which he replies “who said I did” meaning that even though he’s come out of Dubai alive, his soul and his mind didn’t.
If you die fighting the men who come to take you home then a conversation plays over while Walker is dying where Konrad states “We can’t go home. There’s a line men like us have to cross. If we’re lucky, we do what’s necessary, and then we die.” Showing that there is too many bad things which they do that they can never forget as long as they live and they will carry these memories back to their graves.
The last ending which is available is when you manage to kill every member of the rescue team, he then grabs the radio saying “welcome to Dubai” showing that he has become completely mad and can now do nothing else but cause more destruction.