Game: Sniper: Ghost Warrior
Developer: City Interactive
Publisher: City Interactive
Available on: Xbox 360, PC and PlayStation 3 (Reviewed on PlayStation 3)
For years we’ve played first person shooters that give us the task of running into a building filled with our enemies, the biggest gun in our arsenal strapped to our arms, and gunning everybody down while screaming obscenities at the TV screen, hoping our loved ones don’t hear us and admit us to the local mad house.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior is a game from City Interactive that attempts to change all that. Instead of having us run into a building, dispensing bullets like they are air, we’re told to find a high perch, lay on our stomachs and squeeze off a single shot, and make sure that that single shot counts. Is this the type of first person shooter that gamers are wanting to play, or is it just trying to force us into a different play style?
STORY: The Sniper: Ghost Warrior story is a series of interconnected missions, and although there is sometimes a link between them, most of the time a call comes in, you’re sent to the location, you kill people and then move out. The sniping itself is fun, and when you are laid on your stomach protecting teammates from a vantage point that nobody else can see you will feel somewhat like a guardian angel. Sadly, those situations are few and far between and most of the time you’ll feel like nothing more than a third wheel.
You’re the guy that has to stand at the back of the group while the rest of the guys clear the way for you. Sometimes you just want to run and gun, but with a sniper rifle as your main weapon, you’re not going to be able to do that. It really is a shame too, as the parts where you’re using the sniper rifle are amazing, the fact that you’ve got to compensate for the distance of the target, wind speed and heart rate means that when you do make that perfect shot you’ll feel like you’re the greatest sniper the world has ever seen. Most of the time however, you’ll only feel like the greatest follower of the guys with bigger guns the world has ever seen.
GRAPHICS: The visuals in Sniper: Ghost Warrior are nothing to write home about, but from a distance the vegetation of the wilderness can look quite impressive. When you are laying on the ground picking off people from very far away you might mistake the game for something that looks pretty good, but he moment you get up and see the weapon you’re holding close up you’ll soon realise that the graphics are mediocre at best. The shadows are the most obvious reason for the lackluster graphics, and every time a nearby bush or tree casts a shadow on your weapon, you’ll be greeted with a severely pixelated outline of the foliage that will often take all your concentration just to not look at. Not a good thing when you’re supposed to be concentrating on the people trying to turn your head into a colander. Even the models of the enemies themselves look OK from a distance but if for any reason you have to get up close to them (maybe you’re trying to sneak into the perfect sniping spot and need to get past that single guard) you will soon start to see the lack of quality.
SOUND: The sound design on Sniper: Ghost Warrior is done well for what it is, at the end of the day they’ve only got to get a single weapon sounding right; the sniper rifle. There are a couple of other weapons in the game, but the default sniper rifle that you’re given at the start of every single mission is one of the best, and most people will feel content enough with it that so won’t go out searching for other weapons. The music used in Sniper: Ghost Warrior is also just OK. It’s reminiscent of something that might have been used in the earlier Ghost Recon games. It sounds a little over the top for what the game is but, for the most part, it suffices.
GAMEPLAY: The main crux of the gameplay in Sniper: Ghost Warrior lies in the use of the sniper rifle. Upon loading the game for the first time you’ll go through a tutorial where you get to use the weapon for the first time. From that moment, knowing that you’ll have to take into account all of the different variables that could affect your shot, you’ll feel like you’ve just stepped into the shoes of a real life sniper, and that you can take that single shot and feel confident that you’re going to hit the target. When it comes down to the use of the sniper rifle itself, City Interactive have got the feeling down. Sadly, it is the other weapons in the game and most of the story that ultimately, and entirely, lets that single mechanic down in a big way.
After the tutorial mission you’re straight into hard combat, and that first mission isn’t too bad either, you’re given a single target and told to take him down. You have to find yourself a nice little vantage point, make sure you’re not spotted, line up the shot and wait for your moment. All that feels good and more than a little bit epic. The problems start just after you’ve taken that shot, when you’ve got to take down an entire army with just your sniper rifle. No longer can you line up that perfect shot and take them down, at that moment you’ve got so many people firing at you that you can’t do anything other than firing on them as soon as they’re even vaguely within the sights of your scope. The tactics, and therefore the fun of the game, drop away almost instantly and never really comes back.
There are other types of missions that the player can play too, the best of which is the Challenge mode. In this mode you’re stripped of everything that would usually have made your life easy, you’ve got no map either so you can’t see where any of the enemies are. You’re dropped into the zone, told who to assassinate, and then left to your own devices in order to get there and finish the mission. This game mode is exactly what I wanted from the main story. I wanted a game similar to the Hitman series of games, you’re given a target and then you have to work out the best possible way to get to them and take them out, and the Challenge mode is about the closest Sniper: Ghost Warrior gets to that.
The multiplayer mode also leaves a lot to be desired. All players play as snipers, as you would expect, and as such they won’t have anything over their heads to indicate which team they’re on, nor will they look any different from each other. This makes the whole thing massively confusing. Most people will just end up doing exactly what they’ve been told not to do in multiplayer games for as long as they’ve been around; camping! They will just set up their spot, crouch down, and take aim on what they will have figured out to be one of the very few spawn points on your side. Take aim, wait for you to spawn and BOOM!! Headshot! There’s nothing fun about that at all.
LONGEVITY: If you manage to get to the end of Sniper: Ghost Warrior (most people will probably give up after being shot by an enemy they had no idea was even there for the 65th time) then you’ll be given no reason to want to go back and do it all over again. Sure there’s a multiplayer mode, and it could be a good excuse to keep playing, but when it comes down to FPS titles there are only a few of them being played online on a regular basis, and Sniper: Ghost Warrior just isn’t going to be one of those games. Players may get some sense of longevity by going back and playing the game on different difficulty settings but there’s no real reason to at all, and to be honest, 99% of people won’t.
VERDICT: Sniper: Ghost Warrior is a game that really wants to be good, it tries so hard at times too, but there are certain things which can’t be overlooked. Things that drag the overall enjoyment of the game almost down to the floor. Enemies will constantly switch from not being able to hit you from 3 feet away to instantly taking your head off with a well placed shot from 3 miles away. A plethora of bugs, inconsistent A.I. and a story that feels like it is ripped straight out of a thousand Hollywood films overcome the impressive use of the sniper rifle, that makes the player really feel like they’re lining up the perfect shot and taking it. Sniper: Ghost Warrior is a game that could have been something special, but sadly, it simply isn’t.