Stealth is your new best friend.
March 19, 2010 - The sniper class is always one of the most popular classes in first-person shooters (FPSs), so it makes sense that there would be entire games based around that experience. The folks at City Interactive are trying to develop that classic sniper goodness into its own game with Sniper: Ghost Warrior. In Ghost Warrior, players will control two different soldiers sent into a fictional South American country by the world's governments in order to stop the oppressive reign of a dictator. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with an early build of Sniper and try a stealthy mission for myself. Unfortunately, I wasn't as skilled as the game's producer who demoed the level previously. So instead of quelling the dictatorial regime I managed to send an entire village into an uproar.
Not everyone is cut out to be a Ghost Warrior, it seems.
Sniper is actually a deceptive title, as only one of the two playable characters is actually a sniper. The other missions will be played from the perspective of a more traditional soldier that enjoys his loud, automatic weapons just as much as the next guy. By alternating between these two perspectives, Sniper looks to cover all the FPS bases.
The real fun will likely come from the sniper sections of Ghost Warrior. The level I played was set at night and in a jungle landscape, with my main objective being to sneak from point to point and take out armed guards along the way. The first set of interesting mechanics comes from the main HUD, which displays a few pieces of useful information. On the bottom of the screen is a visibility meter, which slowly builds if you're in an enemy's line of sight. When the gauge is full, expect alarms to go off and enemies to actually open fire on you.
City Interactive also decided against the standard regenerative health mechanic that's saturated the FPS genre recently. Traditional med kits will be used instead, because the developers want players to have to make a tactical decision about going after health.
Once a player brings up his or her sniper scope, a number of new diagrams appear on screen. A heartbeat monitor is displayed on the upper right, which will actually change depending on how much you've been running. In other words, don't expect to get a steady shot if you just sprinted across the entire jungle. This realism is reflected in the movement of the scope and the steady sounds of breathing. The crosshairs of the scope are extremely advanced and can be used to measure distance, bullet trajectory and more. For gamers nervous about this much micro-management, a beginner's mode will be available which shows the exact point a bullet will hit on the screen.
Most of the level I played was all about finding the perfect time to take a shot, especially when multiple guards were involved. If one guard notices another is killed, panic will obviously follow. This dilemma creates miniature puzzles where the player must figure out the best time in which to take out enemies, and in what particular order. There were only a few simple examples of this during the demo, like firing on a sentry as he turned away from his conversation with a fellow guard, but hopefully there will be more elaborate setups to enjoy.
So far, Sniper: Ghost Warrior is a promising entry in the FPS genre, especially considering its low price (40 dollars for the 360 version). With 16 missions spanning eight to ten hours of gameplay, there should be plenty of sneaking around to do when Ghost Warrior launches later this year.