Sniper: Ghost Warrior (Sniper) was a budget title when it was released about two years ago. Sometimes that is a blessing, sometimes it’s a curse. Being a casual FPS gamer, I wasn’t dying to play this one on release. I’m more of a ‘support’ player myself, and have never enjoyed those pesky, camping snipers on multiplayer games. But, having the chance to see what all the hype is about by becoming a highly trained sniper for the low price of $17.99 (or $16.19 for Pro Members) from my favorite GameStop, I decided to go for it.
The story is far from creative. Basically, you are a top sniper in a spec-ops military unit burdened with the task of stopping an enemy regime before they can become a big threat to the USA. That’s it, cut and dry. There are four acts which have several sections to get through. Each section has different gameplay to keep things interesting. Most of the time you play as the main sniper, other sections have you playing as a support character that you were just providing with cover fire. You never know if you are going to be on your own, with a spotter, or with a small team to get your objectives completed. This keeps the sections feeling fresh. The pace of the story moves at a decent clip, but compared to how much time you take sneaking through huge maps, it feels pretty balanced. I finished Sniper in about 10 hours on Normal, and I really took my time. The cutscenes are short but to the point, giving you enough information to get you excited for the next section.
There really isn’t a tutorial in Sniper, other than a short training on firing your weapons. I guess they were assuming you had played enough of these games to know what’s up. Only through trial and error did I figure out how to use first aid kits, throwing knives, and explosives. Nothing about the gameplay really stands out; Sniper isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel here. Controls are basic, reticules are on target, the firing impact feels realistic – and all these aspects are effective to let you drift into the realm of believability.
The main issues with Sniper revolve your environment and the enemy AI. Throughout the game, you never leave the jungle. This can begin to feel a little bland after a while, always hiding in the same type of brush. Obviously, there is a large amount of sneaking and camouflaging involved in sniping. While a jungle provides ample opportunities for cover, the cover system itself just isn’t that great. Several times I went prone in tall grass with a small pistol in hand, not even budging to pan my camera around me, and I would be spotted by the enemy. You are given a meter indicating your visibility to enemies, but unfortunately, it isn’t always a great help. Sometimes you’ll see the gauge rising and can move behind something quickly enough to avert trouble. Most of the time, an enemy will simply turn around and spot you without warning. This can get very frustrating, especially on infiltration and extraction missions that require complete stealth and very little killing.
So, while you’re hiding in bushes and hoping you are completely camouflaged, you would think you could start picking off baddies in the distance, right? Well, sometimes this is true. The environment not only blocks you from view of the enemies, it blocks your view of them as well. Large leaves and blades of swaying grass will constantly block your line of sight, even while you’re peering through your scope. Often times I was forced out of my cozy hiding place to make a much-needed shot. I understand that there’s an aspect of realism Sniper was trying to achieve, but the execution at times was pretty rough. The enemy AI is a little unbalanced as well. When you’re compromised, they won’t hunt you down or use flanking techniques to box you in. They simply go on high alert, making it a little easier to spot you. They duck in place and look around a lot, but they really aren’t any smarter or more difficult to kill. They are also EXCELLENT shots. In a game where a couple of bullets is enough to kill you, the enemies are able to shoot you in the head from huge distances with nothing more than an AR. It becomes very frustrating to be in a designated sniping perch way up on a mountainside, and to be shot in the head over and over by tiny ant-men. By loading that checkpoint over and over, you begin to develop a winning kill pattern to follow, but it just doesn’t seem like that should be necessary. I’m a trained spec-ops sniper, for cryin’ out loud!
Despite Sniper‘s obvious flaws, it manages to be a lot of fun. Those flaws provide level of additional difficulty, though seasoned FPSnipers may find that difficulty more annoying than challenging. As a support-style gamer, it really didn’t bother me enough to make me mad. Honestly, I really couldn’t put it down once I got the hang of the controls. An added bonus is that the Achievements are relatively easy to get. Most of them are based on kill types/amounts and finishing the acts. There is only one achievement that revolves around collectables, so that can be easily gained by a play-through on ‘easy’ with a guide. There is also a decent online community with achievements attached to multiplayer kills. However, you will be playing against veterans who’ve been dominating the community for two years, so play with them at your own risk.
If you are looking for some cheap sniping fun and aren’t terribly concerned with having the PERFECT SNIPING GAME EVER, than this one will be for you. Sniper: Ghost Warrior is fun, challenging, and an easy Gamerscore booster.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior is Worth the Buy!