Developers: City Interactive
Publishers: City Interactive
The original Sniper: Ghost Warrior was a bit of a mess on the Xbox 360 and a slightly more polished version eventually made its way to PS3, but it continued to sell at a steady rate for months on end, making a sequel inevitable.
We’re hoping for improvements across the board this time around and seeing a CryEngine 3 logo upon booting up the game certainly raised expectations in the visuals department. Having recently played God of War: Ascension, it was going to take a lot to impress me and oddly, City Interactive have produced a mixed bag from Crytek’s engine.
The lighting during daytime stages is particularly impressive with the opening jungle in the Philippines being a nice place to start the game. I didn’t have to look far to see the shoddier areas though, such as the trees made up of rigid flat sheets pasted across each other at angles. A late Tibetan stage restored my faith though with some pleasantly detailed environments around mountaintop monasteries reminding me of fun times in Uncharted 2.
The sightseeing doesn’t last long though as the game swerves into a series of night-time missions requiring the use of a night-vision scope, aka the fugly mode. The green scope seems to flatten every texture in sight into a blurry mush; making finding targets an awkward affair.
As the title suggests, sniping is the focus. Various difficulties are available, the first two add a red dot to your scope showing where the bullet will actually hit as it takes into account bullet drop and wind strength. The last setting removes the red dot, leaving your to judge the variances yourself. I gave this hardcore setup a go in the firing range, but found the wind adjustment to be annoyingly inconsistent meaning some targets would need multiple shots, something moving AI in the campaign would punish you for quickly.
Clicking L3 to hold your breath steadies the scope and slows down time, making headshots easier to pull off. With slow motion aiming and extra targeting dots it may sound like the game can be too easy. This isn’t always the case though, all your rifles are bolt-action meaning there’s a small eternity between shots and guards are quick to react and storm your position. Your close-encounters sidearm pistol may as well be facing the other way for all of its effectiveness. Some of the checkpoints are spaced way too far apart, making restarts pad crushingly frustrating.
For many parts of the game, you’re accompanied by a spotter who calls out targets. Generally, you have to take them out in order, which makes you feel a bit redundant, at least it’s more entertaining than slowly crawling behind him staring at his boots as you shuffle through the undergrowth.
When you’re allowed to take out targets without all the bloody handholding the game opens up and reveals an enjoyable range of killzones. It’s hardly rocket science, but there’s a systematic pleasure in planning which targets to take out first so as not to alert other guards, it’s all about considering everybody’s line of sight.
When things go tits up, it’s very tempting to hit restart, until your remember how far back the last checkpoint was that is. As soon as an alarm is raised every guard at the base knows exactly where you are and with your very non-automatic rifle dispensing death at such a slow rate, you’ll learn to love clean finishes.
The AI’s fantastical abilities extend to being able to shoot and see you through some solid surfaces, making some of the stealth-crawling sections an absolute nightmare. If the enemy AI wasn’t enough to screw you over, then the friendlies will get you. My spotter got stuck on the spot a few times, meaning I couldn’t progress either.
It’s not the longest of games with the three acts coming to an end in about five hours. The night-vision stages and AI bugs aside though, I still found myself ploughing through as when the game decides not to screw you over it’s a lot of fun. Naturally, you’ll have to be a big fan of sniping sections in FPS titles to get the most from it as you can’t even pick up an assault rifle this time despite really needing one for when things get loud.
It’s down to the online action then to make sure the game doesn’t end up on eBay before you’ve even synced up the campaign completion Trophy. Bad news fellow melon-popping fans, the only mode on offer is team deathmatch and there are only two maps. Two!
You have the choices of the city streets of Sarajevo and some bunkers in the Philippines. The latter of these is actually very well designed with lots of areas to lie prone and wait for some fool to make a run for it. The size is just right too as the map is split by a bridged ravine, with a similar layout on each side.
It’s a sadistic joy when you finally spot a stationary target and you have all the time in the world to nail a headshot. Slow-mo targeting is replaced with scope steadying, which works well enough, but a few guaranteed headshots still sometimes inexplicably miss.
The lack of maps and modes is worrying enough, but frequent random dropping dead on the spot ‘suicides’ upon respawning utterly derail the experience. If City Interactive can fix this and throw in a few extra free maps -there’s just not enough content here at all- then maybe I’d be able stretch beyond a rental recommendation. Seeing as they’ve just announced a single player mission DLC for a whopping £8.99, I wouldn’t hold my breath.
- Some stages look great
- Systematically taking out targets feels rewarding
- Multiplayer has potential...
- But where’s the rest of it?
- Night-vision stages are a mess
- Some bugs require you to reload distant checkpoints
The Short version: There’s not enough content here to recommend the game beyond a rental. A poor amount of on-disc content for the multiplayer is particularly disappointing. This is a great shame as the actual sniping in both single player and online can be very enjoyable at times.