Sniper: Ghost Warrior (Xbox 360) PAL  Sniper: Ghost Warrior (PC) PAL

There was a point in time when originality in first person shooters just wasn’t an issue because the genre itself was: original. This all changed with the dawn of the 21st century as many studios decided to create their own answer to Halo or Half-Life. Then along came the smash hit Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, a game that was so popular it became the new model for all FPS games since. Some have challenged the conventions of what a game should be like, whilst others are so generic you’d hardly notice. So hot on the heels of just about every other first person shooter out there, the relatively unknown City Interactive have unleashed onto the shelves of a few outlets Sniper: Ghost Warrior. When I say unleashed, I do however mean spat out a budget title that even for a small price; fails to impress.

The plot is the tried and tired “mission goes wrong, finish the job” affair. Razor Two Four, who incidentally has the worst codename in the history of the Special Forces, misses his chance to kill a target. The consequence of this is that a secret agent gets found out and is subsequently put in a hostage situation. There are one or two twists here and there, but it seems like the writers just watched Sniper, a 1993 film about the namesake. What they did was take out the hint of drama about the situation of two snipers trying to survive and made it more like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The result is a mess that fails to engage its audience and provides an at best generic tale.

Bullet Cam: For when you really want to see brains spilt!

Appropriately, the one thing that the developers got completely right was the sniping. It’s all well and good to point the crosshairs on an enemy soldier’s head and pull the trigger; but it isn’t very realistic from very far away. Stick in gun velocity, wind speed and the sniper’s own blood pressure and you’re simulating the real thing a little more. Throw in the nice little cut-scene of the shot being fired at that person’s skull and you have one mechanic that is well thought out. As for the rest, it is a bit of a joke. Stealth is the worst offender as the general’s forces seem to have eaten a lot of carrots, have surgically implanted eagle eyes, or even a combination of the two. What doesn’t help is the tiny heads up display, for the tiny dots from a normal position don’t show the direction they’ re facing, which they do show if your face was surgically attached to the TV by the eyeballs. If this was at the very least a little bigger, and the enemies diet consisted of less carrots then the game would be a more forgiving experience.

The main problem comes from the fact that missions seem a little too familiar. The first mission shows you how the controls work, but turns into a big shootout. Towards the end of the chapter however, there are sequences where you aren’t the sniper. These act like an unrefined carbon copy of a certain game from 2009. You see where this is going. Where did the original ideas go? Perhaps the developers realised that some of the sniping sections would bore some of the typical first person shooter players, so opted to make sections dedicated to remind them of what they should be playing. It’s bad enough when a game is bad on its own merit, but when trying to emulate a better game but falling at simple things such as hit detection and weapon effectiveness, it is beyond salvageable. Then there is the multiplayer, which is practically unplayable as games quickly turn into a Mexican standoff from one side of the map to the other with snipers. One move is likely to get you shot, that is if anyone will actually be playing when you are. They’re probably on some other game.

It might not look like it, but this guy is screwed on around four different points!

There is a saying that “looks are deceptive” that is surprisingly appropriate here. While the environments are well detailed, they do come across as a little stale as you progress through the four acts. The character models would have looked alright if the game didn’t allow you to look through a scope. By granting you this ability, you will see how the models look as if their eyes were stuck to their faces with Pritt-Stick. That said, it isn’t as if the game looks horrible. The jungle is fittingly bright and green, rather than the sea of brown that we’ve seen from most shooters in the past five years. Effects of seeing a bullet pierce an enemy’s skull are slightly laughable when the victim does a somersault from the apparent force.

Perhaps with the title itself, one would have seen it coming. Sniper: Ghost Warrior is for a lack of a better term; dire. A little more effort in tweaking the sniping sections and putting less emphasis on making the game just like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare would have made this a more creditable effort. A lacklustre campaign combined with unforgiving enemy awareness and dodgy hit detection means that anything other than the somewhat brilliant sniping mechanics will come across as rushed and in serious need of disinfectant. Its games like this that make me wonder about the future of the first person shooter. Sniper: Ghost Warrior could have been a far better effort if more care was taken into its construction. What we have here is a cut and paste scheme gone horribly wrong.