Sniper: Ghost Warrior
There are no ramrod, run-and-gun takedowns in gamemaker City Interactive's new first-person shooter. There's no leaping from a speeding vehicle with a knife in your virtual teeth and an automatic weapon in each fist. Nope, Sniper: Ghost Warrior is a more deliberate game of precision. And in this case that means long treks through the jungle, slow, stealthy target setups, and a whole bunch of kills from way, way off.
Gamers play as Marine sniper Sgt. Tyler Wells, aka Razor Six Four. On special military assignment, he and his spotting partner are plopped smack-dab in the middle of hundreds of acres of angry jungle in the fictitious nation of Isla Trueno. Wells is a hero, sent to stop a sadistic killer. Violent despot General Vasquez has taken over this small and once democratically run country, and he's controlling the place and its cocaine trade with an iron fist.
Early on we see the general's gun-toting lackeys rounding up innocent civilians and executing them with bullets to the back of the head. And so it's Wells' job—through four acts and multiple chapters—to pinpoint key targets, assist a rebel uprising, and hopefully take out the thuggish general by the time the last bullet is fired and the last bit of brains are splattered.
Slow Your Breathing and Squeeze
This is a linear game that offers a wide path of travel. You may need to crawl or crouch your way through yards and yards of jungle or high-elevation hillside before finding your perfect hiding spot. But if you stray too far, the game demands that you "get back to your area" before a timer counts down and restarts the level.
This isn't just shooting fish in a barrel. The AI characters are incredibly sensitive to any giveaway that you're nearby. If the wrong twig is snapped or the wrong bush rustled, the bad guys'll start blasting with amazing accuracy or storming in your direction en masse. When surrounded, Wells can switch from long-range rifle to silenced handgun, grenade or balanced throwing knife.
The sighting mechanics are very realistic with this shooter. Accounting for distance, wind and even your character's rate of breathing are all part of the mix and add a sense that you're really looking down the scope of a powerful modern rifle. Then the .50 BMG large-caliber rounds lift the target off his feet and sometimes flip him backwards.
All of the death-dealing is accompanied by a fair share of mess. A bullet or knife to the body equals red spray and splurts. When you target a victim with a perfectly placed headshot, the action kicks into slow motion and the camera follows closely behind the bullet as it shatters the skull. (You can also kill random animals—parrots, chickens and livestock.) Explosive barrels and grenades, on the other hand, produce huge explosions and instant death, but without any of the real-world burning and gore.
F-bombs blast the landscape. And you can't turn down the sound to get rid of that kind of static because you need the com instructions to move forward.
One of the real world's best-known snipers, the late Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hatchcock-USMC, once said, "I like shooting, and I love hunting. But I never did enjoy killing anybody. It's my job. If I don't get those b‑‑tards then they're gonna kill a lot of those kids dressed up like Marines. That's the way I look at it."
Sniper: Ghost Warrior sets up your avatar marksman to be much like the brave and stoic Sgt. Hatchcock. But, of course, there is one big difference: While the real-life heroic sergeant may have blanched at the death-dealing he was tasked with, the makers of this game are hoping that the virtual sharpshooter in you is much more open to enjoying the moment.