Sniper: Ghost Warrior Hands-On

We grab a sniper rifle and put it to good use during a meeting with City Interactive at E3 2010.

Earlier today, during a meeting with City Interactive, we had an opportunity to play through a mission in the Xbox 360 version of Sniper: Ghost Warrior, which is scheduled for release just a couple of weeks from now. Set in a fictional country off the coast of South America, Sniper: Ghost Warrior casts you in the role of a military sniper tasked with taking down a dictator. That's apparently your objective in the very first mission of the game, but, predictably, things don't go exactly according to plan, and so what might have seemed like a relatively straightforward mission initially turns into a series of missions that will purportedly take somewhere between nine and 11 hours to play complete.

The mission that we played through takes place about a one-third of the way through the campaign and saw us--accompanied by a spotter--attempting to retrieve files from a large enemy base in the middle of the jungle. After starting the mission alongside our spotter, we never saw him again as he moved on ahead. We were in constant radio contact, though, and he did a great job of forewarning us about enemy positions and even told us which enemies we should take out occasionally. Not all of the missions in the game will feature a spotter (there are even a couple in which you don't play as a sniper, we're told), but having him around was definitely a great help on this occasion even though we were playing on the easiest of the game's three difficulty settings.

Even on the easy setting, Sniper: Ghost Warrior doesn't just let you position whatever you want to shoot in the middle of your crosshair and then pull the trigger. You still have to compensate for any wind and for the distance of the shot, and you still need to hold your breath in order to be completely accurate. You get some assistance, though, in the form a red dot that appears on your crosshair and shows you where your bullet is actually going to hit if you take the current shot. So, effectively, the red dot becomes your aiming reticle, though it does take a second or two to appear after you look through the scope. Holding your breath also makes your kills much easier because it doesn't just steady your aim, but it also slows the game down and highlights enemies that are in your field of vision. So, if you're in the right position, it's actually not that tough to time your shots so that you take down two or even three enemies with just one bullet.

When that happens, and when you pull off an especially long-range headshot, you'll be treated to a slow-motion bullet-cam that does a great job of showing off your bullet's movement through the air and the results of its impact with the target. The replays were popping up pretty frequently during our session, but we're told that they're unlikely to get old because if you're playing on the difficulty level most appropriate for you, these spectacular shots shouldn't be commonplace. In hard mode, for example, you get no aiming assistance, and while accounting for the wind and the range of your shot, you also need to lead moving targets to compensate for the time it takes your bullet to reach them.

Getting headshots is a lot fun, but when playing as a sniper you also need to concern yourself with concealment. Stealth appears to be handled quite realistically in Sniper: Ghost Warrior because while there are no cover mechanics or obvious areas of shadow, you're able to crouch or assume a prone position in areas of tall grass and other foliage to make yourself almost invisible to enemies. A bar along the bottom of the screen lets you know how visible you are to enemies at all times, and because enemies' fields of vision are tied directly to the positions of their heads, it's not unusual to see the bar flickering even while enemy soldiers are just idly looking around. If you're spotted, enemies go into an "urgent" state in which they will be much more alert and will actually have improved eyesight and hearing. Unlike their counterparts in other stealth games, soldiers will never return to their regular calm state in Sniper: Ghost Warrior, so if a dead body is found or you trigger an alarm, you can expect the remainder of your mission to be significantly more challenging.

Depending on the mission, your loadout can change quite considerably. You'll almost always have access to a sniper rifle and a silenced sidearm, but you might also have frag grenades, claymores, or throwing knives in your arsenal, the latter of which can be retrieved from dead bodies and reused. You'll even have access to a grappling hook in some missions, so that you can use it to reach otherwise inaccessible sniper perches.

In addition to the single-player campaign, Sniper: Ghost Warrior will boast three multiplayer modes: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and V.I.P. Multiplayer games in which almost everyone is playing as a sniper. This might not sound like much fun, but we're assured by the developers that they've taken the weapons and the camping habits of some players into account and have come up with a system that makes it almost impossible to stay in one place for too long. One example of a camper countermeasure that we were told about is the minimap, which, rather than pinpointing the exact locations of enemies, will only indicate their direction. So as a camper, you'll get no advanced warning when an enemy sneaks up behind you.

We enjoyed our time with Sniper: Ghost Warrior today, and we look forward to bringing you a full review of the game when it comes out in a couple of weeks.

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34 comments
codesplease
codesplease

@ p0pp0 Would you like to expand? What's wrong with the name?

isshiah
isshiah

@no41 yeah the PC version got a bad review. i was looking forward to this game too.

no41
no41

To everybody that is thinking about getting this game,DONT!!,it is broken like a jigsaw puzzle.

whfreddy
whfreddy

Ho hum. It just all sounds so dreary to me. This sounds less like a game and more like a training exercise.

thesovvolf
thesovvolf

Well I wasn't too interested in this game at first. I thought it was going to be just another shooter. However the realistic sniper mechanics have me interested and I might pick this up.

SANDMAN201
SANDMAN201

You just got to love how much blood sprays out.

Greater_Area
Greater_Area

I sit on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and get maybe 10 or 11 kills a game because I sit on a cliff or something with my silenced intervention with Cold-Blooded Pro as my perk. I feel like such an amazing and talented sniper. But now that this is on it's way to the gaming racks, I will feel the adrenaline of actually sniping. I can not wait for this game to come out.

sleengblade
sleengblade

Aaaah it's about time a good sniper game came out. I always like the sniper parts of all shooter games the most. This game looks fun. I just finished Red Dead Redemption so this game will have some large shoes to fill but I think it will be good.

Rocker6
Rocker6

@ p0pp0 Why is the name crappy?

guysss
guysss

Looking forward to this one.

Bobby777888
Bobby777888

Looks like a lot of fun.... Also looks pretty good graphically:) Bout time a decent sniper game came to the X360!

nikinikin
nikinikin

I guess this will be City Interactive's first decent game.

JW-toch
JW-toch

Sounds great! I might get this one.

skrotzki
skrotzki

looks like it will be an amazing game

eedie973
eedie973

this game looks frickin awesome cant wait to get it

Caboose84020
Caboose84020

Finally! A game with detailed sniping mechanics! It'll be like that movie Shooter with Mark Wahlberg, except in the jungle, and tropical urban environments. :D

isshiah
isshiah

i loved the sniper mission in COD with captain price so if its even better than that i'm looking forward to it.

ih8soup
ih8soup

looks kinda boring.. ill check it out if it gets good reviews though

raptures330
raptures330

a full on wookie game :D i wonder if the enemies will have a repair tool :o

Kaiteru
Kaiteru

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

ppg4all
ppg4all

lot of blood for one shot

Darkages04
Darkages04

A long awaited sniping game is arriving... last time I played a sniping game was back on the original xbox, sniper elite. Gonna enjoy this for sure.

termadoyle
termadoyle

This shall quench my thirst for some sniper action.

Croag821
Croag821

I cant tell if this game will actually be good, or just garbage. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

dmcb921
dmcb921

looks good i mean everyone gets tired of cod

eedie973
eedie973

i cant wait to get this game sounds and looks so fun

p0pp0
p0pp0

the name is so crappy it can't be a good game

arsnakeheart
arsnakeheart

I don't think this game will be as good as I expect a sniping game to be, but I'm looking forward to it anyway.