Top 11 Games Like 'Spec Ops: The Line'

Games Like Spec Ops The Line

Story rich” isn’t a phrase that often gets applied to shooters.

However, that is exactly what’s offered with “Spec Ops: The Line,” the gaming equivalent of “Apocalypse Now.” If you’re somebody who’s been searching for a game that offers both exciting violence and story depth, I can offer you eleven choices right here.

11. Far Cry 3

Far Cry 3 - Stranded Trailer [UK]

The last good numbered entry in the Far Cry series also happens to have a more than surface level narrative. Through the main protagonist Jason we observe his transformation from soft rich kid to Rambo. It’s an exploration of man’s primal nature, insanity and the vapid shallowness of human society.

What Makes the Game Awesome

  • Fantastic villain; probably one of the best game villains of the decade
  • Exhilarating combat that keeps up the intensity without making it impossible
  • Balanced upgrade system that makes a difference to gameplay

The combat is a combination of gunfire and knifeplay. Or you can sidestep the combat entirely and take out all your enemies stealthily. Your call.

Jason goes through the gauntlet to avenge his brother and save his friends. However, he begins to realize that he might not have a life with them anymore.

10. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain

METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN | E3 2015 Trailer [Long] (US)

You can’t talk about action game storytelling without bringing up “Metal Gear Solid,” the political spy thriller series that tells stories through the medium of stealth gameplay and giant flaming whales. While some may hold up “Snake Eater” as the pinnacle of storytelling in the franchise, I think The Phantom Pain takes away the prize for most engaging. Even though it has the same problem as every Metal Gear game (i.e. all the story is told through the cut scenes) it does have a lot more gameplay than other entries in the series to keep my attention.

What Makes the Game Awesome

  • A solid core mechanic of base raiding
  • Interesting side characters
  • Fun base management gameplay: the player feels completely in control and responsible for their base and the men under their command

Pick off the base guards one by one from afar. You’ll get mulched in open combat, so make sure you’re not spotted.

Have at the thoroughly entertaining customization system. Choose who you take on missions, what outfits you wear and what sort of gear you take into the field.

9. Killer 7

Killer7 - Announcement Trailer (Steam)

Calling “Killer 7” weird is like saying a prostitute is slightly riddled with STDs. You play as an assassin with seven different personalities (and apparently, bodies to go with them) as you make your way through a plot of conspiracy. Don’t get too comfortable with that premise, though because I haven’t even mentioned the weird Hindu god hallucination that gives you tutorial advice in complete gibberish.

The gameplay is that special kind of incomprehensible where they took a bunch of familiar elements and smashed them together. It’s a rail shooter, but there’s more than one track, you can go backwards and stop whenever you want. It’s a first-person shooter, but only when you’re shooting. And good luck getting a handle on the menu system.

What Makes the Game Awesome

  • Engagingly incomprehensible story
  • Fresh experience from a gameplay perspective
  • The spectacle of seeing something so weird and different is a thing to behold and a breath of fresh air

Switch between seven different assassins with seven different playstyles. Some can shoot long distance while others are more powerful up close. It’s strategy as much as combat.

That weird red guy follows you around offering unhelpful advice. In the name of Harman...

8. Splinter Cell: Double Agent

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent (E3 2006 Trailer | HQ)

Oh, boy, this entry is gonna be a controversial one. In the discussion of “Splinter Cell” titles, the almighty “Chaos Theory” is usually given the prime spot of the whole series. However, the fact is that “Double Agent” has by far the most complex narrative out of all the games.

You once again play the role of Sam Fisher, a highly skilled covert operative, going undercover as part of a terrorist group. You must disrupt the plans of the terrorists while also maintaining your cover. This leads to several scenarios where you are ordered to do something that would either brand you as a traitor to the U.S. or seal your death by blowing your cover.

What Makes the Game Awesome

  • Tense as hell. One of the most challenging stealth titles of the 8th generation
  • Filled with moral ambiguity and no-win scenarios

Will you execute an innocent man or risk death by shooting your observer?

Navigate map levels swarming with guards that will kill on site if they find you sneaking around.

7. Bioshock

BioShock: The Collection Launch Trailer

While Ken Levine’s sci-fi horror vision may have started with the god-tier System Shock 2, I believe it was perfected with the first Bioshock. You are a faceless protagonist trapped in the underwater city of Rapture and surrounded by drug-addicted objectivists who all want you dead. You must hunt down Andrew Ryan, the founder and practical king of the city to kill him and find a way out.

The philosophical storytelling of the game is on point, weaving the storytelling into the gameplay seamlessly. The narrative slowly expands into a labyrinthine plot far bigger than yourself. It’s a modern masterpiece that you have no excuse not to play.

What Makes the Game Awesome

  • Thick horror atmosphere accomplished through stellar sound editing and art design
  • Philosophical themes to chew on throughout the game
  • Fun, tense gameplay

The city’s guardians, the Big Daddies, will do anything to keep their Little Sisters safe from you and others.

Traverse the flawles atmosphere of Rapture in your journey to solve its mysteries.

6. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger

Call of Juarez Gunslinger Launch Trailer -- Saddle Up! [Europe]

Something that triple-A gaming doesn’t do enough of these days is comedy. You’d be hard pressed to find a game outside of point-and-click adventure titles that try to be funny through and through. Fear not, though, you fans of laughter, for “Call of Juarez: Gunslinger” manages the hat trick of being a story focussed shooter that’s actually funny.

What Makes the Game Awesome

  • Great sense of humor and fun
  • Impactful gunplay due to fantastic sound editing/design
  • Gorgeous cell-shaded art style

Dual wield classic six-shooters or two handed rifles in fast-paced firefights for survival.

Mow down hostile cowboys, earning more points for headshots.

5. Hitman Absolution

Hitman Absolution Trailer "Attack of the Saints

The fifth installment of the Hitman series took the adventures of Agent 47 in a new direction. It was still the same setup: “Here’s a stage, kill the target, we don’t care how,” but it was all structured around a story that was basically “The Last of Us,” but with less emotional depth.

What Makes the Game Awesome

  • Intense stealth gameplay
  • Wide variety of assassination options (guns, explosions, making it look like an accident, etc.)
  • Grindhouse feel to the story and characters

Don dozens of disguises in the pursuit of your target. Don't get caught, don't get spotted, don't get screwed.

Take out your targets however you please. Either with something subtle like luring them under a piano that you will then drop. Or something more straightforward like an ax to the brain.

4. Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2: Official Trailer #3

While the first “Red Dead Redemption” was fun, it was essentially just a string of connected assassinations. RDR2” on the other hand is trying to be about something ( actually a lot of things). You play as Arthur, the right-hand man in a group of righteous outlaws constantly on the run from the law.

The game is fundamentally about the encroachment of civilization on the last bits of wild freedom. What’s impressive is that the game makes you feel that way through the story: you and your friends are constantly being backed into a corner by pursuing government agents.

What Makes the Game Awesome

  • RPG elements with horse bonding, survival elements, gun cleaning and even clothing stats
  • Gorgeous, engaging setting
  • Gunplay and hand to hand combat remain as fun as they were in the first game

Take part in high-stakes heists against dozens of lawmen, utilizing all the weapons at your considerable disposal.

Travel the considerable distance of the wide, wild west. You can hunt, rob and collect bounties to your heart’s content. Or just take a ride on your trusty horse.

3. Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2 Launch Trailer

No conversation about story-driven shooters would be complete without a visit to this flagship BioWare space opera. While most RPG purists would choose the first “Mass Effect” for best in the series, for my money the second in the trilogy takes the cake.

Stepping back into the shoes of Commander Shephard, the player is set the task of fighting off the Collectors, a mysterious species that has been abducting colonists off planets from the edge of space.

What makes this middle child of the series stand head and shoulders above its siblings are the party members. Not only are there way more to choose from, but every single one of them is interesting and lovable in their own way, giving you no choice but to bond with them. I remember on my first play through I lost two of my teammates and I was so distressed I had to reload a previous save so that I could make sure they were safe.

What Makes the Game Awesome

  • Wider variety of likeable squad mates
  • Massive, action packed story
  • New RPG elements to replace the ones that were taken away (ship and armor customization gives you more attachment to both)

Strategize on the fly as the battlefield will require you to use all the skills you and your team have to offer.

Gain the loyalty of your crew by taking each of them on a special mission personal to them.

2. Bioshock Infinite

BioShock Infinite TV Commercial 1080p HD TV official Trailer

I know this is the second “Bioshock” entry on the list, but this is my list and I can do what I want. You play as Booker DeWitt, a drunk PI who’s been called to the flying city of Columbia to rescue Elizabeth, a young girl locked in a tower. However, when he’s marked as a “false shepherd” by the city’s founder and head prophet, Booker is forced to fight his way out with Elizabeth in tow.

From the outset, “Infinite” gives you even more to chew on than the original “Bioshock,” giving you everything from class and race to cults and alternate dimensions. It’s also very different in tone from its predecessor, preferring to be a swashbuckling adventure rather than a claustrophobic horror game, making it a lot more fun to play. The characters are engaging and likable, the plot twists are superbly well-executed and the ending will stay with you for months afterwards.

What Makes the Game Awesome

  • Dizzying thematic and narrative depth
  • Incredibly fun combat
  • Enough collectables and upgrades to find to keep you entertained

Use Columbia’s magnetic rail system to fly through the air and rain hell down on your foes.

Discover Elizabeth’s many secrets and use her powers to accomplish your goals.

1. Metro 2033

Metro 2033 - Launch Trailer

This cult classic probably fits the tone of “Spec Ops: The Line” more than any other entry on this list. In a way, the game is less like a story and more like an exploration of its environment.

You are a poor sod living in post-nuclear-war Russia, only able to survive with a society living in the underground metro system of Moscow. You’re in a constant fight for survival against mutants, thieves and f*cking Nazis of all things.

What Makes the Game Awesome

  • Tense, horror-esq world
  • Creative, rugged environment

If this is really what awaits us in the apocalypse, God help us all.

The newest YouTube challenge: try not to die of radiation poisoning and mutant predators!

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A gamer with a primary interest in interactive narrative and arcade-style game design. If they ever adapted Hamlet into a side-scroller beat 'em up, I'd be in heaven.
Gamer Since: 2008
Currently Playing: Batman: Arkham City
Top 3 Favorite Games:Spec Ops: The Line, Bioshock Infinite, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
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