Sniper: Ghost Warrior
When a game makes the jump from one console to another, it’s often a case of a publisher trying to cut its losses and send the project soaring back into the black.
But in the case of Sniper, that unexpected success has already happened – despite middling reviews, the game did over a million units and was one of 2010’s darkest horses.
Whether due to packshot, title or purely subject matter, Ghost Warrior struck a chord with gamers where it couldn’t with critics and by heading back to the lab, City Interactive is hoping to address this with a host of fixes, tweaks and new features.
Chief among these is the new ‘Unfinished Business’ campaign, an epilogue to the main story which feels like it plays far better to the game’s strengths than much of the core game.
After having seen the bullet-filled deep water of the campaign, the ingenious missions and twists seen in Unfinished Business make you realise that these guys have finally realised what their game does well and built upon it.
There are also a handful of new weapons plus a fair bit of work has been done on the visual side of things – it’s still no looker, with its odd Vaseline smudginess, but it’s certainly less glitchy and off-putting than its Xbox 360 counterpart.
Elsewhere, elements of the game that could have done with a little TLC go untouched. AI in particular is as erratic as ever, one moment confronting you with guards that can barely see beyond their noses and that run in circles when panicked (this actually happened) and the next, enemies are suddenly the most battle-hardened, dead-eye badasses the gaming world has ever seen, cleverly sticking to cover the moment they detect sniper activity and ready to pop your skull in a single perfect shot the second you pop it out of cover.
This rough mortality makes Sniper an extremely frustrating experience, particularly when some of the mission objectives and checkpoints are so very vague.
Misinterpret your mumbled instructions and chances are you’ll bite the dust in moments which, combined with the horrible damage you take from enemies and the lack of the genre staple regenerating health, can turn Ghost Warrior into a real trial-and-error festival of frustration – spot the guy that kills you and you’ll be better prepared to deal with him next time, for instance.
Even the sniping isn’t without issue, a ridiculously changeable breeze pushing your shots off course and meaning you’re often required to pop off several shots just to be sure. There’s also the fact that for all its clever physics, Sniper negates the calculation of these by doing the maths for you with a little red marker that shows bullet trajectory.
That said, watching your projectile soar towards its target in bullet cam mode after making a particularly tricky shot is rewarding indeed, even if the blood effects during the payoff are ropey at best.
And for those that want to show their working, Challenge mode does away with not just trajectory but all HUD elements, making for a far more tense and realistic experience.
It’s the best way to play the game but while it does help Ghost Warrior stand clear of its peers, know that it also makes it even more difficult and more frustrating.