I purchased a Humble Bundle deal in July, which included a whole package of games on Steam, primarily to play Borderlands: The Pre-sequel. With some time freed up not catching Pokemon, I decided to play a couple games included in the package. The games I decided to play were Spec Ops: The Line and The Darkness 2. I did not really know what I was getting myself into, but I experienced the most graphic violence I ever have in my gaming career over a short span.
Spec Ops: The Line – Willie Pete
Spec Ops: The Line doesn’t look very impressive on the outset, as seemingly “another war game set in the Middle East.” It is a third-person shooter, with a 2 weapon setup, and grenades. You can shoot things, take cover, use turrets, etc. You also command 2 other US soldiers to help you in the game. Some cool gameplay elements include using sand to kill your enemies.
The gameplay overall is what you’d expect, but the story is very compelling. You spend the game hunting for a bad guy (another American), but the whole time your character starts doing more and more atrocious things. It touches on mental illness, and in the end, you learn that your character was disassociative the whole time, basically killing a lot more people than you should’ve, through a deluded mind.
Through the regular shooting and granading, you don’t see too much extraordinary gameplay gore. You see pits of rotting bodies, hanging bodies, etc. But the kicker comes from victims of white phosphorous. You first see white phosphorous used in the battlefield, and you dodge it for a time. Then you are forced to use white phosphorous on your enemies, who turn out to be good guys escorting refugees. The constant shots of causted flesh and the crawling dead really set the scene of “what the fuck did I just do.” They really hammer a tableau of a mother holding a child, both melted to death. While your character doesn’t continue bombarding people with white phosporous, those 2 scenes of it’s usage are just disturbing enough to make me look away every so often.
The Darkness 2 – Vengeance and Evisceration
I didn’t know much about The Darkness, other than that I knew Mike Patton voiced The Darkness. The setting is that you’re the head of a Mafia, who just lost your girlfriend in The Darkness. And you get attacked in a restaurant (with chick getting shot in the eye in front of you) and almost killed. You unleash The Darkness, a pair of tentacle arms, and are aided by a Darkling, a British imp. It’s a first-person shooter, where you can hold three guns, and dual wield often.
The guns provided in this game aren’t remarkable at all, but that is because a lot of the heavy lifting is done by your tentacle arms. A default move to regain health is eating the hearts of your enemies. So your tentacle head goes right in an eats their hearts. Your right tentacle can also whip in melee range to death. You can throw objects like metal poles, fan blades, and car doors, to impale or slice enemies to death. And of course, wounded enemies can be grabbed by your tentacle arm for execution. Executions provide benefits (and currency!) and are harder to perform, but they include ripping people in half (wishbone), eating their hearts, and popping their heads off (daisy pop). Since executions provide much more benefit than just shooting someone to death, get ready to see a lot of ripped up bodies.
Different types of violence
In the Darkness 2, I actually felt okay eviscerating bodies. The bad guys do lots of atrocious things to your people, including murdering your aunt in front of you, and killing innocent people. The violence was just so commonplace and occasionally comical, so it didn’t bug me. It was just a vehicle in getting through the game. In Spec Ops: The Line, violence and the reality of war is the overall theme. The game made it feel okay shooting various troops and civilians. Violence was not only a vehicle for getting you through the game, but it was meant to make you disgusted.