Every gamer loves to take the role of a Sniper. Taking aim, holding your breath, steady, steady … waiting for the exact right moment, then wham … death from above. Very few gaming experiences are as exhilarating as taking out a target from long distance. I was excited when this game landed in my lap.
Sniper Ghost Warrior is created by Polish developer City Interactive – a software company better known for for creating low budget children’s titles. First impressions are good however as it is based on Techland’s impressive Chrome Engine – seen before in Call Of Juarez. The environments are sprawing vistas which impress, even if there are many little lighting glitches and flickering shadows seen throughout. This sadly is only the beginning of the problems.
As a sniper, the main task of the game is obviously to take out your enemies from afar, and City Interactive have been touting a complex trajectory system in place – meaning gravity, wind speed affect the bullet path. You can imagine my surprise when I first played this game to find out I wasn’t experiencing any of this. A little red dot on the screen was doing all the work for me, and I eventually found out that the game needed toggled to a higher difficulty level. Unfortunately I found the wind speed varied so much that it was basically impossible to get in a perfect shot – perhaps this is how it is for a real sniper, but it doesn’t really translate particularly well to a console game.
The game starts with you placed in a tricky situation, having to hide from a surrounding guard patrol. A white dot appears guiding your direction and you are quickly told to hide in some bushes to avoid being seen. Another white dot appears when you reach the first one and we tried to charge to reach it again very quickly, being spotted immediately and killed almost as quickly – next time we stayed put and also got killed, for no reason I could notice. It took some time to realise that a specific location was needed to be successful.
One of the biggest failings is the titles tightly scripted nature … this is not at all how I would have expected a Sniper based title to handle – I can appreciated being tasked to a location, but I would like to be able to hide elsewhere and peruse my surroundings before rushing into a predefined spot.
Graphically as we mentioned earlier, the engine is very pretty to look at as it is based on the versatile Techland Chrome code, however there are so many distracting little glitches throughout that I would have at least expected City Interactive to spend a little more time tidying it up. The rocks in sunlight for instance look like they are covered in plastic clingfilm. The audio is top drawer and although some of the voice acting is slightly substandard, for the most part it would hold its own against any A list title on the market.
The biggest issue I have is with the gameplay – it is too heavily scripted with predefined paths and routes to take you exactly to your goal. Then once you get there you pay penalties for trying the end result your own way, you must strictly adhere to the developers rule book or the mission is over. One of the missions in which I was told to mark several snipers from long distance failed dramatically when I ran out of time. Eventually I marked them both and found when I returned to kill the second he had vanished. This wouldn’t be so bad, however air support was coming, and unless I killed both beforehand the game was over. Infinite loop ensued before I quit to try again.
The enemy artifical intelligence is also shockingly bad as they often wander across the dead bodies of their friends hopelessly clueless to the pools of blood everywhere. Checkpoints are also set far too long apart so if you die you have to traipse through miles of environment to reach your last point.
For those of you expecting to see a Call Of Duty style sniper game, you will be sorely disappointed as the pacing is wrong, the graphics are wonky in parts and the game sometimes just doesn’t work. I had wanted a mission based game which was freeroaming in nature so I could hide, sneak and pick off the targets as I wished, but sadly this is as far from what I expected that I find it impossible to recommend. One I would avoid.