Jeremy Jastrzab
04 Jul, 2011

Sniper: Ghost Warrior Review

PS3 Review | Psst... Your Ghillie is showing...
The gaming media often comments on how crowded the FPS market is and that to get attention, a title needs to be different. Sniper: Ghost Warrior for the Xbox 360 and PC last year tried to be such a title… on the surface. Judging by the critical reception, it didn’t even get close. While there is a sequel in the works, a PlayStation 3 version has been released and it’s meant to be the best of the lot, with more content, graphical improvements and superior enemy AI. Still, the best of the rest isn’t saying much in this case, even if there are some solid foundations and genuine efforts.

The story though, is the most nondescript and poorly told for a shooter in recent memory. Set in what could be just about any Latin American jungle, what originally starts as redemption over a failed assassination attempt, turns into an awkward lurch from one compromised situation to another in what seems to be a clichéd and haphazard attempt to create something compelling. Like a poorly edited movie though, everything feels disjointed and the schizophrenic transition between scenes makes it devilishly hard to follow. Apparently, gameplay sequences were replaced with cut-scenes, but these are so poorly done that you won’t know how you ended in one place and started in the other. The characters reflect the story, by being completely bland and indistinctive. Don’t be surprised if you can’t even remember the main character’s name by the end.

Still, stories aren’t essential to enjoying shooters, though solid mechanics are a must. And this is an area where Sniper actually holds up well and even shows some good ideas. Most of the good ideas surround the sniping itself, which is the one facet that almost excels. There's a smart system in place, where your accuracy is genuinely affected by your stance and factors such as gravity and wind. To help, the default difficulty setting gives you a red reticule that indicates where the bullet will actually go (but will only show once you’re steady) and you can hold your breath (concentration mode), to steady the shot. Both these work well, as it’s possible to learn how outside factors affect your shot and eventually play without the reticule on the higher difficulties, while the heart rate on the HUD gives you a rough indication of how long you can hold your breath.

Ah, the highlighted one must be the target. Or is he?

Ah, the highlighted one must be the target. Or is he?
Unfortunately, the first level is where everything proves to be a false dawn. While it initially sets the player up to believe this will be a game about planning and pulling off assassinations, what actually transpires is a somewhat messy Call of Duty impersonator, with gameplay essentially sending you from objective to objective, in a heavy handed attempt to be accessible and compelling. There are some good moments, where you’re silently taking out enemy snipers, where your spotter is helping you through enemy camps, or even when you briefly play as the spotter as well. Unfortunately, there isn’t even a hint of assassination planning, as the game resorts to dragging your hand through numerous heavily patrolled enemy camps for the majority and for some reason, too many missions are based around sabotage and recovering secret documents. There is constant chatter in your ear about how you’re meant to be stealthy, but very, very few scenarios actually demand it; though the poor level design makes this an inadvertent blessing. Ironically, the main character openly laments late in the game about how his job was once much simpler.

The AI has apparently been improved over the original. But it’s hard to tell, particularly with the AI being incredibly erratic. More on one occasion, patrolling enemies were found either talking to themselves, or a nearby tree. During the more serviceable bits, the game displays a good balance between your capabilities and the enemy’s. However, often once an enemy has spotted you, you’re in strife. Even though you often won’t spot them, they will often hunt you down with remarkable precision, even with assault rifles. A couple of sequences where enemy snipers are sent after you though, including one where you’re protecting your comrades from a high tower, are really frustrating due to the waves of pinpoint accurate enemies all sent after you.

No, you will never actually know where those shots are coming from.

No, you will never actually know where those shots are coming from.
Probably the biggest frustration with game is how enemies seem to appear out of nowhere. Even though on the default difficulty, you have enemies marked on the map once you spot them, they won't always show up. While sniping, enemies are meant to be highlighted in red, which is actually quite handy, when it happens… And often, you’ll spot an enemy, but they won’t appear on your map. Sometimes you’ll inadvertently spot them, so they’ll appear on the map but good luck then actually finding them. And sure, you make liberties for playing video games, but why are there so many enemies? And since when are snipers meant to sneak through camps and wipe out entire platoons? Finishing the main game, ‘Ghost Warrior’ takes around six hours, with claims of the twelve hour mark being grossly exaggerated. However, the PS3 exclusive addition, ‘Unfinished Business’, will drag things out for several hours more. And it will literally drag. The short and sharp levels are replaced by elongated, boring, frustrating and poorly paced extrapolations that compound all the bad parts of the game.

The graphics are quite frustrating as well. Aside from the invisible walls and point-to-point gameplay, the game presents the appearance of a vast and luscious landscape, a veneer of complexity and openness. Unfortunately, the quality is far off scratch. While you’d expect it to be somewhat difficult to spot things, the low graphical fidelity makes trying to spot things more difficult that it should. That and the design of the environment and gameplay clearly aren’t always in sync. Aside from a low frame rate, poor and unvaried animations (a crocodile once glided away), screen tearing and general budget feel, somehow everything ends up looking plasticine. The sound effects too have a budget feel, as everything sounds like an attempted recreation, rather than actual. It would be nice to say that there’s nothing particularly wrong queue trigger music or voicing, but it’s pretty hard to actually remember any of it.

There is way more running away than seems appropriate.

There is way more running away than seems appropriate.
Still, while the single player may borderline on passable, it’s hard to say whether the multiplayer is meant to be serious or some sort of terrible practical joke. For a game with a weak reputation, it’s surprising to find it reasonably well populated. And just like the core mechanics, the net code is remarkably solid and runs perfectly adequately; fast and proficiently. But get this... each of the (up to) twelve players plays as one of three different types of snipers, while the maps are large and luscious and the graphics low on detail. Did someone say camper’s paradise? No one in their right mind could plausibly pitch such a ridiculous concept for a multiplayer shooter, right? RIGHT?!? Seriously, it’s one thing to try and be different, but such a dull and dopey idea flies in the face of all competitive shooter conventions and was never going to work in the long term.

Sniper: Ghost Warrior is the kid in the school that tried to be too cool. This kid has good qualities, but doesn’t have the confidence to run with them, so instead tries to be something they’re not. Sniper: Ghost Warrior has a remarkably solid core and good mechanics driving it. Unfortunately, rather than running with these and creating a premier sniping experience, it tries to create Call of Duty with sniper rifles, and doesn’t even come close. Defying all logic, the camper’s paradise that is the multiplayer, is remarkably well populated for a setup that is, well… really dumb and goes against everything that ought to be considered standard for competitive FPS action. The development team is clearly capable and has some good core elements to work with, but it’s rather damning that the supposedly definitive PS3 version still struggles for a passing mark.
The Score
Despite solid foundations and some good ideas, the pursuit of unreasonable design goals and terrible executions mean that Sniper: Ghost Warrior fails to make the passing grade. 4
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Sniper: Ghost Warrior Content

Sniper: Ghost Warrior sequel inbound
12 Jan, 2011 Time to clean your ghillie.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior screenshots
10 Jun, 2010 Pick your hiding spot.
Crysis 2 Review
30 Mar, 2011 Maximum Presentation, Minimum Scope.
2 years ago
Played this on PC some time ago.. I think I managed to force my way through about an hour of the campaign but it was just so bland and uninspiring that I haven't bothered since. Maybe if they hadn't promoted it as a "sniper" game and went more for a special forces thing it might have made a lot more sense... but still, a frustrating game.
2 years ago
I was actually consideringbuying this today. Glad I didn't now.
Add Comment
Like this review?
Share it with this tiny url: http://palg.nu/4Rz

N4G : News for Gamers         Twitter This!

Digg!     Stumble This!

| More
  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  09/06/2011 (Confirmed)
  Citi Interactive
  First Person Shooter
Year Made:

Currently Popular on PALGN
Australian Gaming Bargains - 08/12/11
'Tis the season to be bargaining.
R18+ Legislation
R18+ Legislation
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations Preview
Hands on time with the game. Chat time with the CEO of CyberConnect 2.
PALGN's Most Anticipated Games of 2007
24 titles to keep an eye on during 2007.
PALGN's Most Anticipated Games of 2008
And you thought 2007 was populated.