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Sniper: Ghost Warrior preview

There's a fascination with the sniper; whether it's the lone wolf attitude, the big gun, or the way it helps 99% of online FPS gamers refuse to work as a team, snipers are definitely the bad asses of the battlefield. It stands to reason then that there should be an FPS solely dedicated to the experience. Sniper: Ghost Warrior(GW) attempts to fill that role, offering players the chance to take more headshots than a Hollywood photographer.

GW is attempting to break away from the waves of other FPSes with a more realistic shooting mechanic, one that takes into account distance, wind direction and target leading; you can't just aim directly at a moving target a mile away and expect to hit him. There's also a focus on stealthy gameplay: tripping alarms and setting off guards will bring a small army down on you, ready to put hot lead in your ghillie suit. The guards are sensitive to sound and are constantly scanning the area for intruders; a bar at the bottom of the HUD indicates how visible you are to your enemies and how much attention you're attracting.

In the jungle level we saw, the main character snuck through a militant outpost, taking out the guards along the way. Well placed headshots were rewarded with a slo-mo bullet cam that followed the projectile all the way into the enemy's gray matter. During the level the player was aided by an unseen spotter who scouts situations out, revealing enemy locations and offering potential strategies. He suggested the player climb a tower to get a good vantage point on a heavily armed camp, and pointed out whch enemies should be killed first to avoid attention. Once the character made it to the objective though, all hell broke lose and the alarm was raised as he "reclaimed" nuclear weapon data. From here on out it was a mad dash out as every guard in the area closed in.

Given the trigger happy nature of most FPSers, a game that leans too heavily on the stealth aspect might bore some players, which is why Sniper also includes a special ops assault character that takes a much more straightforward approach to combating the enemy: blasting away with assault rifles and chucking grenades. The game alternates between the two to keep the game from getting too redundant, though the stealth sniper aspect remains the focus. While it's a good idea in theory, the game's more straight-forward FPS segments looked a little generic, a problem in a genre already so flooded with contenders.

While the developer stressed GW's more realistic sniping elements, the game also includes an optional red dot that automatically calculates leading and distance for you, showing where you actually need to aim. Enemies also glow with a light yellow hue, making them easy to spot in the large environments.These things may make the game more playable and accessible, but they seem to detract from the realism the game is trying to achieve.

While it's unlikely to dethrone MW2 or BC2, GW looks like it'll offer a different flavor of FPS with its sniper elements and retro 80s action film feel. The game includes 16 missions, and the solo campaign should take somewhere between eight to eleven hours to complete. GW will also include multiplayer, and the developer says it too will have a much heavier focus on sniping than traditional multiplayer FPSes. While it lacks the polish of its competitors, GW is being developed by a much smaller studio and is offering the game at a lower price as well, $39.99 for 360 and $29.99 for PC. Sniper: Ghost Warrior will be sneaking out of cover and into stores sometime this spring.

Mar 22, 2010

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