Developed and Published by City Interactive, Sniper: Ghost Warrior is the journey of a gunman on a quest to kill a nasty and evil dictator fella, because he’s done some bad things. The videos released ahead of this game had heightened expectations a little, it looked really good fun. Oh how wrong and misleading they were.
The game uses the Chrome 4 engine recently seen in Call of Juarez, which for the most part looks okay, but there’s really not a lot of variety in levels. There are only so many types of trees and plants you can crawl through in the jungle. Quite what happened with the shadows though is somewhat disturbing, they are like massive concrete slabs: black, blocky and ugly. Things aren’t all rosy on the frame rate front either, which chugs along in places, particularly when the game is auto-saving or transitioning from action to cut-scene. The story itself, covering a revolt in some distant banana republic, is satisfactory and just about hangs the game together in a coherent form. It starts well enough with a spotter team mate guiding you in for some long range targeting, but that’s really about the highlight, as it’s all downhill from there.
For a game with the title Sniper you’d probably be expecting to be capping headshot insta-kills throughout the proceedings. If you purchase this on that basis, chances are you’ll be returning it for a refund faster than Superman (who incidentally is quicker than a speeding bullet). Sniping takes up less than half the game time, with the rest consisting of some very generic FPS run-and-gun fare.
There are also some very tedious sections where a grapple hook needs to be used. These can be great (see Arkham Asylum), though sadly using it here is about as easy as eating really long spaghetti … with your toes. Early in the first level this is encountered, one moment you’ll be dangling in the air, trying to work out how to reach the floor, the next you’ll be at the mission failed screen with a puzzled look on your face. Things on foot don’t get a lot better, with seemingly small gaps that can’t be jumped over, and scenery that will stop your progress more effectively than having no legs.
The mission failed screen is something that’ll pop-up a lot in your journey through Sniper: Ghost Warrior. This is mostly because the AI is absolutely shocking, able to spot you from 2000 yards with their super-eagle eyes, even if you’re prone and in cover. You’ll not be able to work out where they are at all, even with the notifications on the mini-map, and sometimes they’ll appear behind you despite having cleared out a small army of men through the scope. The tutorial makes a fuss about hiding in cover, but in the missions proper it just doesn’t work. There’s a bar at the bottom of the screen that shows your enemy detection level – this goes from zero to full to the mission failed screen, faster than the journey of a particularly hot Vindaloo after a Friday night drinking session. It’ll drive you crazy, particularly when this happens far from a save point, because you’ll then have to go through the trauma all over again.
If there is one small part of this game that is decent it’s the bullet-cam. Here when you make a particularly good sniper shot, the camera will follow the bullet from gun to target in slow-motion – and it doesn’t have a happy ending for the chap on the receiving end, unless crimson showers are a good thing. The sniping is at times very fulfilling, especially when this happens. The trouble is the game really can’t seem to make up its mind what it wants to be, a full on kill-a-thon or a sneaky sniper fest.
Unless you’re playing the game on easy, it’s up to the player to work out how to compensate for the wind, distance and breathing when sniping – breathing that in fact makes the soldier sound like an aging asthmatic elephant that’s just had to climb up a particularly steep hill. This of course could have added an interesting level of skill to the game, but turn on the easy mode, which gives a red circle indicating the correct trajectory, and you’ll see just how wildly it moves all over the place – though you can slow this down a bit by using the concentration mode. Perhaps this is why the developers didn’t have the player sniping throughout the game, because he’d probably have turned the rifle around and compensated by shooting himself in the face. There are four different acts in the game in total, if you manage to make it through to the end you deserve a prize.
A similar level of effort has gone in to the online multiplayer, there aren’t any clever game modes that make good use of the sniper rifle and perhaps the most hated of all spawn point campers. No, you get deathmatch, team deathmatch and VIP across six maps for up to twelve players. Save yourself the pain and don’t bother.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior is a terrible FPS. It will make you want to gauge out your own eyes with vinegar covered fishing hooks, replace them and do it again, and indeed that would be more enjoyable and better use of your time. Being a budget release in no excuse either – we’ve seen some fantastic games on XBLA and PSN that are cheap as chips and far more fun than this effort. Sniper Ghost Warrior is simply a horrible game and you really would be wasting your money on purchasing it, especially if you’ve missed slightly older A++ games that have since fallen in price. Avoid avoid avoid.
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