Sitting alone in the woods for hours, waiting until the perfect moment to line up your shot and then finally carrying out the mission; this is the life of the Special Forces sniper in the modern world. Or at least that is how I am told it works despite the various attempts of this game to prove otherwise. That being said, I still think that this game had some things going for it. This game was developed by City Interactive as the first part of the Sniper Ghost Warrior series. The game was released in mid-2010 for the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3
The premise of the game is that you play an army sniper that is sent in on a seemingly easy mission of taking out a cruel general that threatens to overthrow his home countries regime. All of a sudden the mission goes south and your spotter is injured and an inside man is compromised and taken captive. It is your job then to continue the mission to eliminate your target and find your friend. The remainder of the game will have you sneaking through enemy territory to complete the mission. The story was riveting at times but overall a little predictable.
The game is heavily based on stealth and silent killing as you would expect from the title. It is all in the first person and your arsenal consists of a sniper rifle, a suppressed pistol, grenades and knives. There are a few missions where you used assault weapons instead of sniper rifles and go for more of a commando approach than stealth. This stealth element of the game is one that really got me trapped sometimes and is also an element that caused many reviewers to give the game a less than good score. The setting is mostly dense jungle so there is plenty of stuff to blend into and hide behind assuming that you are still going where the game wants you to go. The AI was also a bit weird. It was either completely stupid and you could literally walk right up behind enemy characters or it would be completely opposite and soldiers would spot you from 100 yards away when you are behind a tree. This made the game really frustrating because you never knew just how stealthy you had to be. There was one level where the game wanted you to sneak through a town filled with rebel soldiers but instead I just crawled along the invisible wall and the extreme side of the map. I enjoy a good stealth element in a game but this was so inconsistent.
Now we come to what is probably the largest complaint of the game; it is horribly linear. The game sort of gives the illusion that you can find your own path but you are still trapped in its little sectioned off area. There were many cases in the game where it wanted you to sneak through a town filled with rebels when, in the real world, you would just go around it. I know that the game was trying to add more action by adding these levels but it really took away from the realistic sniper feel. Most of the combat engagements were within 50 yards and it almost made a sniper rifle unnecessary. You had a suppressed pistol and throwing knives which I found to be sufficient for the game. Then you add in the fact that the sniper rifle is semiautomatic and you can slow down time by controlling your breath, similar to Sniper Elite V2 and the game just becomes too easy in terms of shooting. Actually remaining stealthy was hard but shooting your way out was never really a challenge. On the higher difficulty levels, the game makes you account for bullet drop and wind speed but at short range it almost doesn’t matter.
One thing I must say about this game is that it is graphically very beautiful. The lighting and the detail of the foliage makes the game seem very realistic and really draws you in to the game; assuming you have a higher end graphics card. For those that don’t know, I’m running the Intel HD 4000 integrated chip in my rig which has served me faithfully but obviously cannot run graphically demanding games on ultra-settings. As I progressed through the game, I noticed that the gameplay was lagging a bit and it really started to affect my playing so I decided to open up the options menu to tweak some settings. The menu offered the standard settings such as resolution, AA, shadow and lighting, water detail, etc. but I noticed they were all set on high. Well there’s the problem I said, I’ll just lower some settings. The thing is that the game would not let me. All of the options were there and there were sliders to adjust the settings but no matter what I did, it would not let me change them. The game ran well enough, though often times with some serious lag. I didn’t want to run any benchmark software to get an accurate reading for fear it would crash the game. Now I’m sure that there is some way to change theses but after digging for a while I gave up. In my opinion, the player should be able to easily change the settings. All of that aside the game is, as I said, a very good looking game and I am rather impressed with the graphics of it. This is probably what gave the game as good of a score as it received.
If you are really into sniper games and can be extremely patient with the stealth element, I suppose you may like this game and it could be worth your time but otherwise I would be more wary of it. It is a very good looking game and it had some interesting features or ideas for features but it seems like it was rushed in production and did not get everything in that it would have liked to as the game was incredibly linear. I often wonder if bashing a game because it is linear is unfair because the idea of an open world gameplay has just become mainstream in the past few years, though this game is not even two years old. This game bills itself as a serious sniper game but to me it felt like of Call of Duty with constant ‘sniping’ that plus the issue with the graphics made this game less than impressive to me.