Sniper: Ghost Warrior
D: City Interactive
P: City Interactive
Release: Available Now
Date added: July 22, 2010
Sniper: Ghost Warrior Review
Review By: josephjwest
Until a week ago I could safely say that Iíd never been shot at and killed in an FPS by an enemy that was clearly facing in the wrong direction and standing on the other side of the map. That was until I played through Sniper: Ghost Warrior, and now Iím a veteran of the ridiculous. In fact that small, bizarre eventuality crops up so frequently that it becomes a metaphor for that which is offered by the game as a whole; glitches and unfair AI.
Now for the controversial news: I enjoyed this game. I probably wouldnít have if Iíd parted with £30 for it on Steam, since itís really the gaming equivalent of a B-Movie, and is priced as such elsewhere. But when you think of it as a second class game, youíll forgive it for it encyclopaedia of faults and have fun over the three or four hours it takes to complete. Youíll also die a lot, so itís probably best to get a friend to hit the quicksave button for you every couple of minutes or accept that youíll be back to the same checkpoints over and over.
Letís get the bad points out of the way first. Far Cry famously gave its protagonist a red Hawaiian shirt to explain away the ludicrous distances over which enemies could spot and ultimately kill you. In SGW youíre kitted out in a full Ghillie suit, and so there is no justification for the alertness of all the in-game foes. Theyíll fire from the hip and hit you from what seems like several miles away, which not only makes your sniping capabilities look impotent but also makes you wish that the sections in which youíre given an assault rifle werenít the most infuriating in the whole game, magnifying your apparent incompetency in the face of the drug smuggling supermen.
To continue with the bad points, the plot and the missions are stolen straight from many of SGWís high budget peers. The tropical island environment is an homage to Crytekís work without having any of the open world qualities of Crysis, the waypoints and many of the action set-pieces are clumsily borrowed from COD, and thereís even a bit of rope-swinging to be done, which suddenly makes you feel like youíre in a very wooden Tomb Raider game. The story is delivered through infrequent radio chatter and pre-mission briefings delivered over the loading screen, a la the Modern Warfare series. Oh, and you get to play as two different soldiers, giving you a different perspective on the same battle, but itís a pain more than a pleasure.
In essence the plot and mission structure never get much further than Ďkill the bad South American chapsí, but they chuck a half-hearted twist in the middle which youíll simply forget to care about. The only real innovation (as far as I know) is the hybrid health system which regenerates, but only up to 30 per cent. To get any higher youíll need to inject a medkit. The result is that youíll end up in a near-death state for most of the levels as enemies quickly bring you back down below the 30 per cent mark. It actually took me an hour or so to even bother to look at the health bar, because I just assumed that the regenerating health would act in the same way as it does in other modern FPS titles, so I guess itís a take it or leave it feature, and another aspect of this game that is delightfully broken.
Sneaking about is necessarily a big part of this game, although the developers didnít really bother with much of a dedicated sneaking system, so itís often pot luck as to whether youíll get caught. This is exacerbated by the eagle-eyed enemy soldiers who are paradoxically impossible to spot because they blend in so nicely with the jungle foliage. The sniping system has understandably been given the largest amount of attention, and I was at my happiest when perched on a convenient ledge raining down pointy metal death on the idiotic NPCs scattered below. As well as watching your breathing, checking the wind speed and slowing down time to take aim, youíll get a reticule that is overlaid on the crosshair to show you where a bullet will actually end up. This allows headshots to be placed with relative ease, and the addition of the bullet cam which follows your projectile to its fleshy target definitely makes the whole process satisfying if repetitive.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior uses the latest version of the Chrome engine, and I was actually surprised how good the whole thing looks at a quick glance. With a decent rig youíll see impressive foliage and appealing natural vistas. Shadows are clunky, but the loading time of levels is incredibly short. My only piece of advice is to avoid looking into the faces of NPC s, because they are supremely uncanny and really rather distracting. Make sure you shoot as many faces as you can.
The sound quality is all over the place, with decent atmospheric effects spoilt by terrible gunfire on all but the silenced weapons. Grenades are impossible to aim, but since they look rubbish and donít do much damage itís not really an issue. You can also fight with knives and a pistol, but like the assault rifle youíll always wish that you could stick to sniping for the duration. Sadly the game has other ideas.
I fear that after claiming to have enjoyed Sniper: Ghost Warrior Iíve gone on to slate it in almost every way possible. But Iíll repeat again; I had fun with this game. It might be my affinity for the cowardly sniper, it might be my love of camping, and it might be how much fun it is to play a low-fi game that has half-baked rules which can be broken and exploited by both the player and the NPCs. Itís definitely not for everyone, but if you get it cheap you canít really go wrong.