Sniper: Ghost Warrior is all about wielding a lethal boom-stick, one that's capable of ruining someone's day in a single shot, and doing so as stealthily as possible. Is this budget game a crack shot, or does it fail to hit its mark?
After a botched assassination attempt, the race to end the life of a military tyrant begins on Isla Trueno, a fictitious South American island. This tropical playground is home to lush jungles, unique architecture and waterways, and plenty of victims in need of a bullet.
The generic plot--involving the assassination of a ruthless military tyrant--is passable at best. To its credit, the game attempts to shake things up with a few noteworthy plot twists, though the overall execution feebly strings together the setting, characters, and reasoning behind missions. Sure, the faceless U.S. agents spout a few lines here and there to help give you context, but the droning, monotonous voice-work and utterly forgettable characters fall way short of spectacular. Ultimately, Sniper: Ghost Warrior never manages to make you care much about what's happening.
Mission variety in Sniper: Ghost Warrior isn't exactly paving new ground, since it mostly revolves around a repeating formula: aim at X, and shoot. That's not to say it's completely devoid of standout setpieces; the sequences in which you overthrow a village, rescue hostages, and breach an oil rig are all memorable. The ride, however, rarely comes close to the excellent pacing, structure, and variety of heavy hitters like Modern Warfare 2, or Battlefield Bad Company 2.
Sniper's heavy emphasis on stealth yields mixed results. It's a no brainer that a sniper's greatest advantage is his ability to remain undetected. But a frustrating and downright broken stealth system prevents you from taking advantage of this. Prepare to feel cheated by buggy A.I. with super-human senses that leave very little margin for error. Unavoidable screw-ups lead to instant death, forcing you to rely on pattern memorization. You'll inevitably end up playing certain scenarios over and over again.
Outside of the campaign, Sniper: Ghost Warrior attempts to dish out a worthy set of multiplayer options. Deathmatch, team deathmatch, and V.I.P. modes are available. As you'd probably guess, players stick to one location on the map regardless of game type, and then camp and wait. With big maps and an hour-long clock, matches tend to drag on beyond the point of enjoyment. Once you get impatient, you meet a quick end. If you're anything like us, this will happen very soon.
At least Sniper: Ghost Warrior gets the basics right. Wielding the sniper rifle feels good, especially when competing with the forces of nature. Wind, velocity, distance, and heart-rate all affect the outcome of your shot, making for an arresting challenge. The other weapons don't fare so well. The melee attack lacks impact, and your throwing knives feel more like frozen fish.
The game's early missions follow strict pathways, keeping the leash extremely tight. Progress yields more leg room, though the levels never reach a point where things feel like they click. You're either confined to a strict pathway, or unnecessarily hoofing it across an enormous map, backtracking for what feels like miles at a time. You'll spend a great deal of time running, walking, or crawling from one pre-determined spot on the map to the next. It quickly becomes tiresome. What's more, there are areas throughout the map that appear perfectly accessible, though invisible walls and makeshift barriers immediately push you back onto the path as you approach them.
The HUD is very confusing, making it hard to identify the source of the gunfire constantly hammering at your health. Couple that with enemies that all appear to be crack marksmen and you'll quickly find yourself facing stacked odds. At times, the game is just too punishing for its own good.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior suffers from a magnitude of technical hitches. Trying to stay immersed in the world is a challenge onto itself since clipping issues occur constantly. You'll find yourself getting stuck in the environment or even glitching your way to the next checkpoint. NPCs often get caught up in the geometry, and opposing units will even fail to shoot each other when standing a mere 10 feet away.
Despite some solid visuals and attention to detail in the open world, the interior textures look downright horrid. Character animations are a joke, and the rain effect applies a weird filter that makes it look as if Vaseline has been smeared all over your screen.
However well it might model the experience of killing with deadly precision, Sniper: Ghost Warrior suffers from a barrage of technical and design mishaps that make it hard to recommend wholeheartedly. If you've been hard up for a shooter with precisely this sort of narrow focus, it's worth a look, especially given the budget price, so long as you temper your expectations.
Reviewed on Microsoft Xbox 360.
Source: City Interactive