I love sniping. Any game that gives you the option to use a sniper rifle or a slew of other weapons, I always choose the sniper rifle. I tend to find conventional weapons boring, AK47? What else is there? I prefer the strange, one shot one kill type weapons in games, revolvers, shotguns, crossbows, and of course sniper rifles.
So the idea of a game where you’re always using a sniper rifle sounds awesome to the niche demographic that I’m a part of. Hearing of this game got me pretty excited to play it, even though I just got around to it now (There’s already a sequel out).
The setting for this game is the jungle. There are villages, rivers, and temples, but mostly just dense jungle terrain. This isn’t really a problem because the game gives you enough variety in the environment to keep you from growing bored. The environments are well constructed. The areas are aimed towards realism, which when combined with the slow stalking combat and sniper theme, bring the Tom Berenger film “The Sniper” to mind.
The jungle environment made me think of the jungle sections from Metal Gear Solid 3. This might sound weird, but the main reason I’m reminded of it, is the ambient bird sounds. Kind of random, but these two games have really well done ambient bird sounds. A strange compliment to give a game I know, but the sound designers deserve a nod for that. It probably helps that I have a nest of birds right outside my window though. The ambient sound design really added to the environment and made the game more engrossing for it, especially in tense situations.
Most of the other sound is done well. All the guns sound good. Each sniper rifle has its own distinct sound and the silenced pistol, whilst sounding incredibly cheesy, sounds awesome.
The big complaint on the sound department isn’t actually on the effects, it’s on the voice acting. It’s terrible. All of it. Every single voice actor in the game is awful. Some are worse than others, but none of them are good. It doesn’t help that the game has horrible writing, but I’ll come back to that in a moment. The delivery, especially from the main character is bad and comes off as awkward. I feel some of the blame belongs to whoever was directing the voice actors. Sometimes they exaggerate the lines to the point of being hilarious.
The people you are shooting at, are speaking a foreign language, and because of that fact, the game developers thought they could half *ss the enemy dialogue and nobody would care. True I don’t speak the language, but did you honestly think I wouldn’t notice that 87% of all the enemy dialogue is the exact same line of dialogue, read by the same single voice actor? Really? You couldn’t spend a little more time on the voice acting?
Another strange thing I noticed regarding this single line of dialogue is that if you kill the character saying at the wrong moment, he will finish the line from beyond the grave. Thies wasn’t a one time thing, it happened repeatedly throughout the game. The first time it happened I was confused, I thought maybe there was another enemy talking or something. After further investigation I discovered that it was in fact a dead person speaking.
The writing is terrible. It’s almost ridiculous how cliché it is. It’s like they didn’t even try to come up with an original story. All of the characters in the game, lack the most crucial part, “Character”. They have no personalities outside of plot convenience. At one point you get double crossed by a teammate and it has absolutely no impact because his character wasn’t established beforehand. Yeah he’s there in the beginning of the game, but he doesn’t develop. There are no interactions between him and the main character so the double cross loses its effectiveness.
The main character is completely flat. He has no real personality, he just does what people tell him. Oh well, at least he has a voice, I hate when they make you silent in games. The main villain, (if you can even call him that, they do nothing to set him apart from the other nameless goons you whack on your way towards him) has no build up. I didn’t even remember his name, he doesn’t even have any dialogue, or a distinct look. He doesn’t really do anything either, he just stands around when it’s time to shoot him. You shoot at this guy twice throughout the game. Once in the very beginning and once at the end. The first time you shoot at him, he get’s away. I got really confused at this point. I shot him in the chest and saw him hit the floor, yet the characters in the game say that the shot missed and that he got away. Was I not supposed to hit him or something? He is the target for the game, which is really just one hit that get’s sidetracked a lot.
The story is full of cliché moments they even have a slow motion walk towards the camera that came out of left field. It’s your character holding his gun in the air and 3 obscure teammates, one of which is holding his gun over his shoulders. Anyway they all swag walk towards the camera, which was hilarious and completely out of character for the game. I guess it was supposed to be cool, but really, it was just surprising. Especially since you were nowhere near these other people before the swag walking started.
The A.I. is completely dreadful. Sometimes they notice you for no reason, and other times they stand there looking stupid. Something I don’t get is the accuracy of the enemies. You play as a sniper, a highly trained agent, with high tech weapons, yet your enemies have perfect aim from any distance with a regular old rifle. That’s kind of stupid if you ask me.
The gameplay is the strong point of the game. They clearly put a lot of effort into making the sniping feel “right”. It’s a more complex system than most games have. Bullet drop, wind, rain, all affect your bullet trajectory.
Sniping is a lot of fun and there is a cool slow motion effect that sometimes triggers when you score a headshot or a double kill with one bullet. The enemy ragdolls and goes flying. It’s fun. You have the option to take an assault rifle from a dead enemy, but I never did, I can’t see why you’d want to. You also get throwing knives, but they aren’t as cool or useful as you’d expect. The back of the game case proclaims that you can use C4 and Claymore mines in the game. I counted the number of times you can use these things. # of times you can use Claymore mines: 1. Yes only once, yet it earned a bullet point on the back of the box. # of times you can use C4: 1. Seriously just once again, they were really stretching for things to put on the back of the case.
There are a couple of segments where you have to use a station machine gun, first let me just say that the sound effect for this gun scared the hell out of me. It’s about 10x as loud as everything else and it very much surprised me. These segments were terribly boring and added nothing to the gameplay. They were most likely added for some variety, but whenever one came up, I just wanted to get back to the sniping.
Moving around is really awkward in this game. You can frequently get stuck on rocks and inclines in the terrain that seem as though you should easily be able to just walk over. The moving becomes further impaired when you crouch or crawl. In that state you can hardly even move side to side, and going up stairs? Forget about it, you’ll just glitch back and forth until you give up and just stand up.
The other big component to the game is stealth. I’m a big fan of stealth games and this game did a different but good job at it. The stealth is not shadow based like splinter cell, or cover based like a game such as Deus Ex, it’s closest to Metal Gear solid again with its camouflage system, and while you never change camouflage in Sniper Ghost Warrior, you can use it to blend into the vegetation spread across the jungle. In the stealth sections, you usually have the option to sneak through or you just kill everyone and stride through like a magnificent BAMF, but don’t go striding off just yet, you can slowly plot your way around, under, or through your enemies like a stealthy and even more magnificent BAMF. The stealth works fairly well, except when the AI decides to just randomly start shooting. You can even use stealth in place of most of the killing sections. Sniper Ghost Warrior teaches you to take the long way around, and too often times disobey the instructions you are given. I don’t think this was intentional, but it is often more rewarding to avoid the preset path and the onscreen prompts and instead take the long way around. The stealth segments can be fun and intense and again reminded me of the movie “Sniper” which I’m guessing was inspiration for this game. Most of the music is just your generic Call of Duty esque military music, but some of the music in the stealth segments is perfectly fitting. It’s intense pulsating score fits perfectly in a stealth environment and sounds like a beating heart. I dig it.
The ending of the game left me in awe., but not because it was good, let me explain. The game goes “Kill this dude” and I was all like “Aight”, so I kill him and the game cuts to black with the text “The End”. then the credits roll with a completely unfitting reggae swing song. I kind of liked the song, but it went against the whole style of the game up until that point. I couldn’t believe how completely anti-climactic the ending was, no build up, no final challenge, the last enemy you kill before this is completely set up, he just stand there facing the wrong way while put a bullet or a knife in the back of his head then it’s just you and the big baddie. It’s not even a difficult shot, yeah it’s far away but I got it on the first try and I figure most people would do so as well, and there’s not even an ending cutscene, no closure, just BOOM the end.
The ending left a bitter taste in my mouth and it was only further soured when I checked my completion to find it at only 4 hours. That is very short. That’s only about half as long as a game needs to be in order to be worth the price in my opinion.
There is multiplayer, but it just feels tacked on and is not very well executed. I feel like this is some serious missed opportunity. I was hoping for some intense person VS person sniper battles like I got in the Farcry 2 multiplayer, but sadly this game did not deliver.
Sniper Ghost Warrior has a great number of problems, but it is still a lot of fun, the stealth and sniper segments can be intense and engrossing, but the rest of the game is so poorly constructed. It’s like having an awesome cake but it’s inside a box that someone dropped in the mud and pissed on. You don’t want to open it do you? It’s just not quite worth it.
Sniper Ghost Warrior is not worth buying at its current price of $19.99. If the price drops to under 10, then I’d say maybe, but only if you’re seriously into sniping and stealth. Right now I’d say just rent it or skip it altogether.