Sniper: Ghost Warrior is a first person shooter published and developed by City Interactive. Players are allowed to control various members of an elite sniper team who are sent in to alleviate problems on a small island that was previously owned by the American government. It sounds like quite a tense situation, but does the gameplay live up to the precident the story sets?
We'll touch on that subject in a minute, because it's worth instantly noting that while the premise sounds pretty solid, the story actually turns out to be quite bland and predictable. In fact, the story is fed to players in such random and small bites that it does very little to suck them into the mission, or make them care one iota about their objectives. At some points players are given control of different roles within a mission, which is a nice point, as it allows players to gain a different perspective on proceedings. However, it's let down by something rather simple.
When you have a game specifically titled Sniper: Ghost Warrior, the last thing you expect is to be running and gunning with a machine gun. And that's exactly what happens during the sequences where players switch perspective. Sure the element of changing the gameplay up is a good idea in theory, but it's also taking away the focus of the game. This wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't for the multitude of flaws present in the game.
At the start of the game, players are introduced to a tutorial which explains the basics. Initially this seems pretty in-depth as there's lots of different meters and indicators for sniping, which actually does seem pretty decent. They display heart rate, metres per second, and an indicator of where a shot will land based on distance, mobility and wind. Every sniper rifle behaves roughly the same adding in a bullet drop point to each shot, but there's one problem with this. It's far too accentuated in the game. Even at 100 metres, players won't be able to just aim and shoot; they'll have to aim above an enemy to hit them. And when it's a .50 cal that's being used, it makes certain sniper rifles look incredibly more inaccurate than their real life counterparts. It's disappointing, because the mechanic works quite well - it just doesn't work with regards to the game feeling realistic. And players will find this out rather quickly too.
They will also become very accustomed to the AI, which, is rather unfair. On a botched first mission to assassinate a target, the player's position is exposed after the first shot they fire. Slightly unlikely, given the amount of cover, but it should at least be endulged. However, when every single enemy in the area below instantly knows where the player is and begins firing with pinpoint accuracy, it gets a bit silly. This isn't just a scripted event either, this happens on every single mission from then on. It gets a little ludicrous when players are charged with protecting a truck from roadblocks that are a good 400 metres away only to have machine gun fire hit them with extreme precision. Which brings about the earlier point. If the sniper rifles suffer from extreme accuracy loss at distance and require copious over adjustments, why can a lousy machine gun hit the player with such accuracy from so far away?
Problems with the AI don't end there though. As well as being insanely accurate, it's made even worse by the fact they don't shoot in the right direction. They can fire behind themselves or to the side and the bullets will still manage to track the player. It's initially quite funny to see, but the humour quickly wears away. There's also a degree of humour in how stealth missions can be completed. Instead of trying to take down guards quietly and sneaking around, it's much easier to just run from points A to B. It negates all the random alerts from enemies that had no way of seeing the player, or that somehow heard silenced gunfire.
There are still more gameplay deficiencies, like the over-use of the grappling hook, but the problems also extend into the game's presentation. Textures, shadows, frame-rate drops all have very apparent problems and it's not uncommon to see shadows and even the lighting on area's flicker around inconsistently, especially in the levels involving rain of which there are a few too many. Voice acting is also very forgettable, as while it's not bad, it doesn't really stand out either. And with the character's animating like puppets it doesn't aid it all.
Fortunately, the game is quite short. It clocks in at around 5-6 hours and while there are quite a few secrets to find, they only inform players more about the game's story - great. There is a plus point though, the addition of online multiplayer. It allows up to 12 people to square off against each other with sniper rifles, but it's questionnable how long its lasting appeal will be; it feels like a missed opportunity.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior is an uninspired mess of bugs and flaws. It's made even worse by an AI which are incredibly accurate, and could probably spot an ant from a mile away. Ironically, the pure sniper action is far too sporadic and players will often have to try and take down targets under copious amounts of fire from opposition. City Interactive did try to vary the gameplay throughout, but the overall effect is one of disappointment and that an opportunity has been missed.