Important note- It is highly recommended by this reviewer that you DO NOT play Sniper: Ghost Warrior if you do not have the ability to download and install the patch for the game.
Sneaking and sniping is a gameplay formula that many gamers are familiar with. Sniping missions are often included as brief breaks from more intense run and gun gameplay. Sniper: Ghost Warrior takes the exact opposite route. As Tango Six-Four, players take on huge environments and swarms of opponents , almost always alone and through a scope; jumping into the body of a support character from time to time. It may be that many gamers are looking forward to spending more time with their favorite type of warrior. I suggest they find their sniping fix somewhere else.
As a soldier, it's not always important to know all the information regarding a mission. When taking orders the why tends to be less important than the when, how, and where. Sniper: Ghost Warrior takes this attitude to heart; the down side being a narrative that is hard to comprehend. The story takes place somewhere in South America and the enemy is some sort of “evil regime” that controls “the country”. We're also never clear which military the main character is a member of, if any. As Tango Six-Four, the player has a clear objective and the tools to get the job done. We're just never told why we have to kill. Which is fine. I don't always need a reason to shot someone in the head (virtually), but it would have been nice to know how my actions applied to the world at large.
Regardless of the why, one thing is abundantly clear after making your way through jungles to your target; sniping takes a lot of trekking and sneaking around to execute successfully. Sniper: Ghost Warrior provides plenty of ground to shot over, but on foot travel is done on a linear path for the most part. This is a shame, because one of the redeeming qualities of the game is how vast the levels are. They don't look very appealing close up though. It's as if the levels were made specifically to look good from a distance (hmm...). Object interactivity is at a minimum, with a grappling hook being the only interesting means of getting around. The grappling hook is difficult to use at best and is only used at very specific points of the game. For the most part you'll be trekking the urban and jungle environments of the unnamed South American country on foot. Sneaking involves utilizing your ghilly suit to blend in with the natural landscape. This is very difficult to do in a first person view, so the HUD has a bar at the bottom that shows how visible your character is to the enemy. The alert enemy also shows up on your mini map, so you can use it to avoid a suspicious guard if you don't want/need to take them out with your rifle or pistol.
The only aspect of Sniper: Ghost Warrior I really enjoyed was the use of the sniper scope. Bringing the scope up gives you all the information you would need for your shot. Heart rate is displayed to let you know how long you have to wait to settle into your shot if you took aim after a run. A small red dot is displayed on your scope if a target is at a distance, essentially anticipating wind speed, bullet drop, and other factors that affect long shots for you. Some players may think this is a little too unrealistic, and they're would be right, but I can't imagine how many shots I would have to take to dial in the “natural” way. The dot assistance only appears if a player keeps the cross hairs on a target after a few moments though. Players who want to do it themselves can fire a shot earlier if they wish. My favorite when using the scope was that the minimap is left on the HUD. This combined with targets being marked on the map when viewed through the scope is very useful for scouting an area before opening fire.
Besides your trusty sniper rifle other weapons are utilized based on what character you happen to be playing during the mission. Standard equipment includes syringes of a red mystery liquid that restores health, a hunting knife for melee kills, grenades and a primary weapon. Prime weapons include sub-machine guns, assault rifles, and the sniper rifle. Tango Six-four also carries around a silenced pistol, grappling hook, and bowie knives for throwing. The bowie knives were an oddity that was never covered in the tutorial and were awkward to use. One of the few times I did pull out the knives to kill a target, the handle bounced off the soldiers head and he collapsed. I wasn't sure if he was dead so I pumped a few pistol rounds in him for good measure. There is very little variation with weapons, though there is an option to pick up dropped weapons. This is pretty useless because starting ammo is generous and extra ammo is easy to come by.
The game's music would swell to epic movie style orchestral builds during action heavy sequences but for the most part Sniper: Ghost Warrior is a pretty quiet game. I could play for tens of minutes with the only sound being the chatter of oblivious guards as I would sneak past or the “snkit” of a silent pistol. The voice acting is delivered in stoic fashion which belays the voice actors feeling of disappointment being involved in a project they have little interest in. The cut scenes themselves looked like they were trying too hard to capture the feel of an epic movie. This seemed like an odd approach to me. In my opinion there's nothing particularly epic or pulse pounding about sniping; a skill that is steeped in patience, stillness, and stealth. On that note, there is a bullet-cam that plays out well placed shots (like the one in the trailer) that makes your shots feel appropriately epic. I had to turn it off after while though as it would break up the flow of combat. I did appreciate the constant dolling out of achievements which Sniper: GW was very generous with. Expect a fairly sizeable dump of achievement points at the completion of the game.
Multiplayer is completely skip-able. Aside from there being only three weapon load outs there is no creative match types. Most are variations of death match, and since everyone is forced to play as a sniper matches take forever to resolve. One multiplayer match I played took a full half hour to complete. While this adds considerably more play time to the four hour main campaign, I don't have the patience to play online matches for long periods of time. Multiplayer would have been much more agreeable with me if there were more weapons to choose from. One of my favorite past-times in Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 is blasting camping snipers in the face with a well launched grenade.
Overall Sniper: Ghost Warrior isn't a horrible game, that is if you can download the patch. Without it the game is extremely hard to get through because of bad AI programming. There just isn't enough content here worth a full disc. If Sniper: GW had been a downloadable game, even without the multiplayer, it would have been an inexpensive and entertaining time waster. However at four hours of gameplay, a disappointing multiplayer experience, and with no additional content I recommend you spend your money elsewhere.
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