Videogames are practically tailor-made for providing that particular power rush that comes from raining down death and destruction from a position of perfect safety. It’s no wonder, then, that sniping is one of the great pleasures of the first-person shooter: Delivering a well-placed hollow-point into the skull of an enemy combatant halfway across the map while effectively invisible in a ghillie suit fits right into gaming’s wheelhouse. So why does Sniper: Ghost Warrior feel like such a slog?
Part of the problem is a lack of commitment. While a game like Sniper Elite trusted players to maneuver into position and await that perfect shot, City Interactive dilutes the sniping action by alternating it with standard run-and-gun missions where ineffective comrades and enemies capable of firing accurately from a thousand yards away through layers of dense brush provide more frustration than fun, while diverting resources from the game’s supposed raison d’être.
If the sniping missions were an entirely different beast from what other FPS games have on offer, lobbing grenades and mowing down drug-smugglers would be a welcome breather between feats of sangfroid. But in Ghost Warrior, firing an M107 doesn’t feel markedly different from firing an AR15, and the game’s nods to realism are largely cosmetic. Gravity, wind speed, and heart rate all figure into the placement of a bullet, but on medium and easy difficulties, the added complexity is offset by a laser sight that functions as the “correct” crosshairs. And even on the hard setting, why consider all the physics that go into your bullet path if the game is happy to reward you for just firing off a couple shots in quick succession, accuracy be damned?
The graphics are surprisingly good for a budget title, in spite of some sloppy animation and chunky shadows, but they can’t distract much from a ho-hum script, an utterly generic plot centered around regime-change and drug-running on a fictional South American island, and lifeless missions populated by soldiers who’ve mastered firing 90 degrees the wrong way and still connecting—all of which make the game’s campaign feel padded at only 10 hours long. An optional bullet-time feature rewards a skillful headshot with a plume of blood, which is satisfyingly gory the first few times, but will likely be switched off when it begins to interfere with taking down multiple hostiles at once. For the price, this is a relatively polished effort, but Sniper still ends up requiring lots of patience—and not for the reasons it should.