Sniper: Ghost Warrior
Sniper: Ghost Warrior (PC Version)
Developer: City Interactive
Publisher: City Interactive
Systems: XBOX 360, PC
+ Weapon sounds are great
+ Patience and timing are required during sniping, adding enjoyable realism
+ Beautiful environments
- Constantly get stuck on objects, (rocks, stairs, small slopes, etc.) resulting in having to stand or jump, alerting the enemy
- Friendly A.I. movements and shooting techniques a little odd for operators
- Friendly A.I. cannot take down targets, even while standing right in front of them
- Enemies are incredibly accurate compared to your team members
- Story jumps around too often, creating a lot of confusion as to why you are there, and what exactly you are doing
- For a game with sniping at its core, rifle sways way too much, and way too often, especially if it is supposed to be in the hands of a professional
- The red circle you are given for where a round will land seems kind of pointless, as it still becomes trial and error, which is terrible when “one shot, one kill” really comes into play
Typically, when writing a review, I stick to the good, move to the bad, then give an overall of the two, providing a good, solid verdict. If all goes well, the bad is a small section detailing the issues that may generate frustration for a gamer. However, with Sniper: Ghost Warrior, things are a little different. Let me get started.
The environmental presentation of the game is absolutely beautiful. The backdrop of the forest is a nice change from much of what we have seen lately in our post-apocalyptic gaming universe (however, an incredibly enjoyable post-apocalyptic universe). There is, of course, a lot of green, but it is pleasantly broken up by fires, villages, and small beaches, removing any annoyance one may get from constant “vegetation observation”. The sound and look of weapons is absolutely great. The crack in the distance as your rifle goes off really lends itself to the feel one wants from the break in silence, just before they have allowed all hell to break loose. On top of that, the patience and timing required to take down a target, are actually quite enjoyable. They allow one to really get a sense of the “predator and prey” game our imagination conjures up in reference to the world of sniping. That is, it’s great when it works, because now we start running into issues that really hurt the game.
Stealth is something many gamers can enjoy, especially when that stealth results in the death of an unethical and immoral enemy. However, Ghost Warrior does an amazing job of allowing us to see how well that stealth could work for us, how powerful it could make us feel, and then quickly stripping it right out of our memories of the game. Everything in the game seems to want to reach out and take hold of your character. As you “stalk” through the dense jungle of the island, you are constantly getting snagged onto geometry. It seems like moving on or near rocks is out of the question, as these tend to be the most difficult to navigate without being slowed down, except this environmental feature populates every area of the island. Slopes are no better, and moving up the slightest grade can be an irritating task while you move left and right along it, looking for just the right spot to make it up, so you don’t have to stand. Stairs, ladders, doors, walls, tents, and just about every mesh or piece of geometry you can think of cause these issues with the player. Usually it results in one of two things. One: you must stand or jump in order to make it up or around the snag or, two: stick to well paved roads and walkways. As one might logically deduce, both of these options seriously damage the stealth mechanic, turning the game into a run and gun most of the time. When this doesn’t happen, which is rare, you finally have a chance to try out the stealth, moving through the bushes, and silently crawling along the ground. However, the enemies’ incredible knack for finding you will, again, turn this into a run and gun. No matter what bush you hide in, what tall grass, what room, and so forth, they almost always spot you. Awkwardly, when you begin taking aim at them, from a well concealed position, while sitting still, without having fired a round yet, just to gain some situational awareness, they will often turn to look right at you, at which point the shooting starts. But, no worries, that’s what your teammates are for, right? Right? Hello, teammates?
Teammates may as well not be in the game. Their movements and shooting techniques are incredibly unorthodox for Special Operations personnel. Typically, their shooting is either from the hip (which is highly unlikely, and honestly, tell me the last time you saw trained soldiers do this for real, in reality, or in any game in at least the last few years) or from a normal shoulder fire stance, but with the weirdest reactions to recoil I’ve seen in a long, long time. And I have been playing games, and shooting guns for almost my entire life. On top of that, they seem to be firing blanks. If shooting starts among your teammates and the enemy, shots will ring out endlessly until you step in to take down the target with one well placed round while your team members distract them. If your teammates do take one down, it will likely occur, (I’m not kidding) while the two stand about five feet apart, firing rounds at each other, using more than one magazine. To add injury to insult, the enemies’ accuracy is insanely over the top, when shooting at you. They seem to be able to place rounds on target at incredible distances. Typically this is not an issue, as it would be normal with any decent rifle, but when it seems to be every single round that is on target, it makes it incredibly difficult to enjoy the game. At one point, I had to take down a target on a yacht, a “one shot, one kill” type of moment that the game description notes. However, with friendly elements down in the harbor to take down foot soldiers, and myself perched up on a hill about four-hundred yards from said enemies, I had to hit the moving target, about eight or nine hundred yards out. This was an incredibly difficult task, and friendly forces could not take down the foot soldiers who were now shooting at me, as my target slowly moved away, and I tried to get the red circle to take a small lead on him.
The red circle is another part of your cross hair that is always changing in order to show you where a round will land. However, it doesn’t account for movement, and still causes you to miss most of the time. It does work, but it takes a lot of practice, and a lot of trial and error. It basically leads you to ask, “what exactly are my cross hairs doing, other than providing something that would be there”? This constant trial and error related to the red circle, leads to a lot of frustration as you will likely have to restart from a checkpoint multiple times to try and get it right. Most of the issue here is the fact that the rifle sways way too much, and way too often. With a game that has sniping at its core, you would think that something like that would be minimal, especially if you character is supposed to be a trained professional in the art of sniping. This swaying causes one to constantly rely on the ability to hold your breath, thus slowing time to gain better aim at your target. It just gets to the point where you abuse this, since you have no choice. And when it isn’t available, you simply choose to take aim with a sidearm or alternate rifle.
To wrap it all up, the story jumps around to often. At one point, I was on top of a lighthouse overlooking a village to take down a target, which was compromised. Then I was part of an assault team moving through the village to the harbor on the other side, then back on top of the lighthouse again, slowing down enemy forces, which I thought had already left earlier when we were compromised, then assaulting the harbor with the assault team, then sniping again, behind the assault team, after they moved through the harbor. The story simply generates so much confusion, that you just don’t care for it, and begins to turn the game into nothing more than a $29.99 run and gun for fun.
The thing that really hurts this game is that the idea of it is really something great. Moving and stalking silently, setting up at a vantage point, taking down a target, and then falling back, is really very cool. It’s just that it does so much wrong, that anything it does right, really creates a lot of disappointment. It really is upsetting, because when you look at the environments, and read the explanation of the mechanics and how the game is supposed to play, you want it to do well, you really do. But it fails, and it fails pretty horribly making you feel really bad for the entire team that put so much time, money, and effort into this. I’m sorry, but with things like Modern Warfare 2 out, Medal of Honor around the corner, and Singularity being (in my personal opinion) the sleeper hit of this year, this just isn’t worth the money. I’m sorry City Interactive, I really, really wanted this to do well, but it simply doesn’t reach its potential.