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The game was banned in the United Arab Emirates for its depiction of Dubai in a state of destruction.

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The player can also defeat enemies at close range via melee combat. Dying enemies can be executed, which grants the player additional ammo. As a third-person shooter with an emphasis on squad-based tactics , players can issue commands to Sergeant Lugo and Lieutenant Adams, who accompany the player for most of the game.

Available commands include focusing fire on one particular target and ordering medical attention for an injured squad member.


Adams can defeat enemies by using heavy gadgets or throwing grenades, while Lugo provides sniping assistance. The player needs to make moral decisions at certain points during the game, [14] including making choices that can determine the fate of both soldiers and civilians. These decisions affect the relationship between Walker and his squadmates, and will cause them to react differently. The orders and shouts to his team become increasingly angry and ragged in contrast to his stern but collected orders at the outset.

His kill confirmations of enemies corrupts from professional in the beginning to psychotic. Set before the events of the campaign, the competitive multiplayer divides players into two different teams: The Exiles and The Damned. Each have their own upgrades and advantages.

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A cooperative mode was added to the game after its launch. It supports two players and features four missions. Players are tasked to defeat multiple waves of enemies and complete a series of objectives, similar to a horde mode. Six months prior to the game's events, the worst series of sandstorms in recorded history began across Dubai. The city's politicians and wealthy elite downplayed the situation before evacuating secretly, leaving countless Emiratis and foreign migrant workers behind.

Konrad volunteered the 33rd to help relief efforts, defying orders by the Army to abandon the city and its refugees and deserting with the entire battalion. The storms intensified and a massive storm wall engulfed Dubai, disrupting surveillance, air travel, and all but the strongest of radio broadcasts.

The CIA then sent in a black ops squad to investigate, and as part of their plan organized the locals into insurgents to attack the 33rd, eventually resulting in a ceasefire. The last communication from Dubai stated that the 33rd was attempting to lead a caravan out of the city. The caravan never arrived, and soon afterward, the United Arab Emirates declared Dubai a no-man's-land.

All travel to the city was barred, the 33rd was publicly disavowed for treason , and no further news left the city. Two weeks before the start of the story, a looped radio signal finally penetrated the storm wall. Attempted evacuation of Dubai ended in complete failure. Death toll The game begins in medias res with Walker, Adams, and Lugo flying in a helicopter past the skyscrapers of Dubai, shooting down several pursuing helicopters until a sudden sandstorm forms, causing one of the pursuers to spin out of control and crash into the trio. The story then jumps back to the start, with Delta traversing the storm wall to the outskirts of a mostly buried Dubai, being taunted on broadcasts by the Radioman Jake Busey , a DJ and former journalist speaking for the 33rd.

After coming across refugees being rounded up by the 33rd and engaging in a firefight, Walker elects to disobey orders and find Konrad. Receiving a broadcast of CIA agent Daniels being interrogated by the 33rd, the team chooses to interfere. Tracing the signal's origin, they find Daniels already dead and the broadcast was a trap set for fellow CIA agent, Gould. The team heads there and continues the attack. Finding it heavily guarded by the 33rd, the team employs white phosphorus to obliterate their opposition and advance further into the city. Walker blames the 33rd and vows revenge.

Finding Konrad's executed command team, Walker uses a small radio to communicate with who he believes to be Konrad himself, who challenges the morality of his actions throughout the story. Konrad then manipulates Walker into executing an Emirati survivor or a 33rd soldier, who both committed serious crimes.

Delta aids Riggs with the aim of crippling the 33rd's operations, but Riggs destroys the supply instead, admitting he wanted to wipe out the remaining population of Dubai to cover up the atrocities of the 33rd, fearing that their revelation would lead to the region declaring war on the United States. With the city's residents now facing death from dehydration, Delta heads to the radio tower to silence the Radioman. After Lugo kills the Radioman, Walker informs the city of Delta's planned evacuation effort.

Walker, who surrenders, is pushed to safety by Adams, who fights to the death. Walker finally meets Konrad at his penthouse. Konrad appears to be the charismatic, villainous force behind the atrocities that Walker was hoping for, until Walker finds his decaying corpse on the penthouse deck.

Rationalizing the actions he had witnessed and carried out, Walker distorted many subsequent events of the game to make Konrad look responsible. There are four possible endings.

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Walker shooting himself or allowing 'Konrad' to shoot him will immediately end the story, with Walker's and Konrad's corpses shown together on the penthouse deck and Konrad's original broadcast playing as the camera pans over to a burning Dubai. If Walker instead shoots 'Konrad', he disappears after telling Walker that he can still return home. After the 33rd surrendering is shown to be a figment of Walker's imagination, Walker uses Konrad's radio to request extraction from Dubai.

Walker can either concede to the patrol or open fire on them. If Walker relinquishes his weapon, he evacuates with the patrol, and has a conversation with one of the soldiers where he questions his status. If Walker kills the entire patrol, he uses their radio to greet Army command with "Gentlemen, welcome to Dubai", one of the first statements Walker said to his team as well as one of the first statements 'Konrad' said to Walker.

Walker then returns to the Dubai Seaside as the camera pans to a ruined Dubai. Following the release of several Spec Ops games in the late s and early s, the series met with low sales and poor reviews, causing a halt to the production of successive games. In , Take-Two mentioned in their financial results that Rockstar Games was working on the franchise, [36] but in the project was cancelled. From to , the series remained largely unmentioned, with the rights still fully belonging to Take-Two.

In , German-based Yager Development pitched a cover-based shooter to publisher 2K Games , who rejected the original concept of futuristic soldiers without Dubai as a setting. Development began in early , with most other fundamentals of the initial game intact. The developers drew inspiration from multiple media. The set-up and the game's foundation was inspired by Heart of Darkness , whose story reveals the changes a person undergoes in chaotic times.

This led the team to focus on creating the game's storyline to motivate players to take the actions they choose. The game was designed to be a third-person shooter so that players can see the three characters change and evolve as it progresses, and that the perspective differentiates the game from others shooters in the market.

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However, the idea was downplayed as the development team realized that having cutscenes helps players to be more emotionally connected and allowed the team to create dramatic scripted sequences. Although the lead player character, Martin Walker, was designed to be as simple as possible in order to help players to engage in the game, and relate to the character, [40] [44] the team gave him some personality which was expressed through his body language and his reactions during the game's battles.

It was felt that by reflecting his emotions to players, they would share them. The changes in the cleanliness of their clothing, and their reactions toward each other, help to illustrate the story. Williams believed that most games on the market failed to create a correct representation of the war experience, or express the psychological changes that some combatants experience after participating in a war.

He added that a war is not as straightforward and immature as it is often portrayed in various shooters. As a result, a central theme of the game revolves around the moral aspect of war. By using this theme, the team hoped to tell a story and provide an experience that feels realistic, covering the combatants' mental changes during and after a military conflict, similar to how movies in the s and s, such as Platoon , Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now convey these messages.

Spec Ops: The Line includes several choices for players to make. According to Williams, it was a key concept to be featured right from the start of the game's development. The game does not feature a morality system, but instead has situations that give players some freedom of choice. The consequences of some of these choices were deliberately made unclear in an attempt to make them more realistic, encouraging players to explore the other potential options not directly presented by the game. These choices were inspired by Fallout 3 , [40] and are often between: "what the character knows and what the player would maybe try and do".

According to Williams, this is something that people frequently do in real-world scenarios, and they must "live with it" after their decision. Williams added that they hoped that the game's players would have different feelings after making these choices, as this would show that they had created an opportunity for players to examine their own inner emotions, [44] and that they had successfully provided different experiences for players without having a branching storyline. The game's moral choices do not have any connection to gameplay, as the team feared that players would view them as gameplay mechanics and disconnect them from the story.

Both approaches are applied to let players make decisions based on their own will instead of "gaming the system".

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While the game's basic premise is to have the Delta Squad rescue civilians in Dubai, the game by its nature tasks players to kill with their firearms. Therefore, the team added a lot of dialogue to justify and rationalize the characters' violent actions, creating complex plot points, drama and climaxes. A major theme of the game is heroism, where being a hero may bring more harm than help. This was cut from the game, as the team found it not effective enough, and it broke a player's immersion in the game. This was later removed due to the game's structure as a shooter, as the team feared that it might make the game unwinnable and cause players to feel frustrated.

One of the main goals of the narrative was to depict war in a manner unlike it is portrayed in media such as TV and books. They hoped that players would be able to feel angry at the developers who "forced" players into killing civilians in the game. The team had a lot of debates regarding the imagery used in depicting violence towards civilians, as many considered it excessive and unnecessary. Williams has stated that the game's events are open to interpretation.

According to Yager, the graffiti was designed to give players a perspective that is different from the main game, and to help make the location more realistic. As a result, the team added hallucinations to the game.

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The team hoped that by using hallucinations as a plot device, they could create a snowball effect and engage players more fully in the story as they complete the game. Williams added that having subtext is important, and that the "best stories are the ones that have stuff hidden in them". The game is set in Dubai, which has been ravaged by sandstorms, a story set-up inspired by Davis' and Williams' personal experience with heat waves , hurricanes , and sandstorms in Louisiana and Lubbock , as well as a story about a Persian army that vanished in an Egyptian desert in a sandstorm.

The two found that the chaotic forces behind sandstorms would help them to convey the message of how fragile humans are, as well as the harshness of war. Using Dubai as a setting allowed the game's levels to have verticality and variety. Using Dubai as a setting allowed them to incorporate sand as part of the game's key mechanics.