Here’s Looking at You
Despite the hype, Sniper: Ghost Warrior is not the best, nor is it the most accurate, sniper game to date. It’s not even the most fun. It’s been compared to Ghost Recon, Call of Duty, and Splinter Cell, and while it does assimilate elements from these blockbusters, Sniper: Ghost Warrior is a generic, no-name game with a few bugs. The ingredients may be the same, but the flavor is often bland and at times bitter.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior puts you in the midst of a deadly conflict in South America. It’s your duty as an American soldier to assist the rebels in overthrowing the dictator of this fictional country. Combat locations are varied, from urban streets to the sweltering humid jungles. There’s no shortage of action, and like the locations, the gameplay is varied. Although the title suggests sniping as your main discipline, it’s not the only task you’ll be saddled with. There is plenty of running-and-gunning to satisfy the trigger-happy FPS fanatic, and of course there is the methodical, stealthy countenance of the sniper to contend with. It’s a good mix of twitch and micromanagement, along with the varied missions, but overall the difficulty is almost non-negotiable in some parts.
There’s nothing terrible about this game, and there’s also nothing terribly original either. There are some technical issues which keep it from ever being considered a classic. Some of the glitches you’ll encounter include clipping graphics and control command errors. In some instances you can see through walls and other structures. Unfortunately it also appears the A.I. has this ability as they can pinpoint your location with uncanny accuracy once you’ve fired off a shot.
The biggest problem in the game comes with the control system. As a sniper, stealth plays a huge role, requiring you to crouch and crawl your way through the environments. Being spotted usually means certain death. Get used to that; there are lots of incidents of unfair A.I. behavior. Unfortunately the commands for moving forward and standing up get crossed. Most times you’ll get exactly what you press, but other times you’ll get a different action, one that you really don’t want. I tried these moves many times to determine if the problem is human error, and I honestly can say I don’t believe it’s me. Even if it is, the commands shouldn’t be so touchy that such mistakes would occur. Imagine sneaking and crawling for what seems like an eternity only to accidentally jump to a standing position where the enemy can see you like a circus act in the spotlight.
A sniper’s life isn’t all sunshine and lollipops, so expect the unexpected, along with some frustrating elements you will have little control over. As I mentioned, this game isn’t entirely about sniping, which I’ll get into more detail in the next paragraph. At the outset you will be part of the ground troops. Always working closely with the snipers, they will provide cover for your exploits. You will also take part in some front line action using a variety of assault weapons such as rifles, handguns, knives, and mines to execute a series of missions ranging from eliminating all enemies in a town to the destruction of oil rigs. With 16 missions in all, this is a good way to introduce yourself to the gameplay. Despite the clipping, the graphics are well done, creating spacious environments such as the villages and jungle areas. There isn’t much story to concern you, just follow orders and keep yourself alive. Switching to the role of the sniper is like playing an entirely different game, and that’s exactly how it should feel. There is a huge difference in mechanics, but at least you’ll have some experience with the environments and the A.I., for better and for worse.
Expect plenty of micromanagement as a sniper. There’s a HUD with plenty of elements to take into consideration. Overall it’s somewhat streamlined, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It can be a satisfying and frustrating experience because there are lots of variables that can make aiming the scope an absolute nightmare. Imagine trying to take a shot while bouncing around in a dinghy in heavy winds.
Like Splinter Cell, there is a meter to determine your level of stealth in relation to the enemy’s perception. It will indicate the degree the enemy is aware of your presence, so you’ll always have instant feedback on your progress making the stealth segments more exciting. And speaking of excitement, your heart rate will be monitored and integrated into the shooting mechanics. If your heart’s beating like a rabbit, and you’re breathing hard, your shot is going to be less accurate.
To set up a good shot, specific variables must be taken into account such as distance, trajectory, wind velocity, heart rate, and breathing. The good news is that you can adjust the difficulty to make it less sim. Headshots are the most effective. Once you have a shot lined up, there are a few other things to consider. Keep in mind the enemy will be alerted to your presence after the shot, so you’ll want to be close to cover, if possible. Also it’s a good idea to pick off a soldier or guard when they are alone or when his comrade is at least turned away as it will decrease your chances of being spotted. When things are lined up perfectly, the camera will follow the bullet in slow motion as it makes its way to an enemy’s soon-to-be splattered cranium. The Barrett is one of the weapons you will ultimately aspire to have. It’s powerful, more accurate, and loud as hell. You’ll begin the game with some low-tech, bolt-action sticks and progress from there as you complete each mission.
Explosions and gunshots could be considered the soundtrack, but they are repetitive and weak. There are some good ambient sounds in stealth mode, such as swishing through though the swamps and foliage. The voiceovers appear to be an afterthought. They are delivered poorly and there’s plenty of spelling and grammar mistakes in the text, and I “ain’t” just talking ‘bout da slang.
Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and VIP comprise the multi-player component. It doesn’t offer anything close to the classic games I’ve mentioned, but at the very least you don’t have to deal with some of the game’s inherent problems. Players are on equal ground, generally speaking, with the control mechanics, but they become less of an issue without the unfair A.I. Players that can reach higher ground with some form of cover will fair better in matches due to improved visibility. But be warned, the online players can seem as nasty as the clairvoyant A.I.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior is not going to win any awards, and it’s not going to win a lot of converts. It’s simply too inconsistent with its technical issues and difficulty that’s literally all over the map. It’s an experience, but not all experiences are great, and Sniper: Ghost Warrior is anything but.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.2 Graphics
Clipping issues cause transparent structures. Nice spacious environments. 2.8 Control
Finicky control scheme results in wrong moves. 3.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Good ambient noises, although repetitive. 2.8 Play Value
Technical issues make the single player mode frustrating. Multi-player mode is generic. 2.9 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.