Marine Sharpshooter II: Jungle Warfare Review

Marine Sharpshooter II: Jungle Warfare is better than Marine Sharpshooter, but it's still not good.

Marine Sharpshooter II: Jungle Warfare is better than Marine Sharpshooter. It's also the best of the five budget-priced shooters that developer Jarhead Games has churned out over the last two years, which is mostly a testament to how bad those earlier games were, because Marine Sharpshooter II still isn't very good.

Expect to see a lot of this, only it'll usually be more green.
Expect to see a lot of this, only it'll usually be more green.

For example--and this may be a spoiler for anyone still planning to buy the game and then play it all the way to the end--the final boss is a Hutu strongman you've been chasing all over the impoverished sub-Saharan nation of Burundi. He's introduced in a cutscene that makes it appear that he has run off somewhere, at which point an unending stream of rebel soldiers begins attacking you from a few hundred meters away on the far side of an impassable gorge. Rather than having some sort of distinguishing feature or behavior, the rebel boss acts and looks almost exactly like the surrounding grunts. Worse, the fight takes place in a downpour at night, meaning you'll probably be using night vision, which turns everyone into an even more indistinguishable green blob. The boss also exhibits absolutely no reaction to being shot. Because he's hiding behind a pile of crates and because you've had eight hours to become acclimated to the spotty collision detection--sometimes a tuft of grass will act as a bulletproof barrier--you'll assume that he's a minion inadvertently protected by the gameworld's haphazard physics and move on to other targets. Finally, you'll need to shoot the guy--who doesn't look like a boss and doesn't react to being shot--11 or 12 times before he'll die, a level of superhuman endurance completely unprecedented in the game's otherwise realistic damage model, all of which adds up to one of the most confusing boss encounters ever created. You expect a certain level of corner cutting in a budget game, but a small budget can't excuse what is, in this case, purely a failure of design. This boss battle isn't just poorly implemented; it's terrible from inception.

The game also features the more traditional shortcomings of budget games: bugs, bad graphics, and generally crummy gameplay. At three different points during the game's five large missions, the scripting broke in such a way that reloading a previous save was the only way to continue. Since the game doesn't let you reload any arbitrary level and only stores one autosave and one quicksave, you'll need to make hard saves at regular intervals; otherwise, you could be stuck restarting from the beginning, or, more reasonably, you might give up altogether.

The game's visuals--powered by Lithtech's Jupiter engine--are bland and repetitive, which is pretty much to be expected in a value-priced shooter. Unexpectedly, a good half of the game takes place in areas so dark that you'll need to use night vision the entire time. The uniform green lighting makes the scenery even more monotonous.

Enemy AI is weak. Soldiers often have no reaction to the exploding heads of people standing right next to them. In a game almost exclusively focused on long-distance sniping, this is a real problem since it tends to make the majority of your targets sitting ducks. The marine spotter who accompanies you throughout the entire game isn't a very good soldier either. Though he's armed, he's not much use in a fight. He'll fire off a few rounds, but generally he won't hit anything. He mainly acts as a sort of traveling minstrel, providing periodic exposition about your next task. On the plus side, he's much less fragile than he was in the original Marine Sharpshooter, which is a good thing since the game ends if he dies. In fact, you'll often find him exchanging ineffective gunfire with an enemy while the two of them stand straight up three feet away from each other.

Pistol hunting in the game's best level.
Pistol hunting in the game's best level.

For what it's worth, the voice acting isn't too bad, though the rest of the sound audio is pretty weak. And the idea of a game in which you're armed only with a pistol and sniper rifle is a good one. In fact, the game's second mission, a battle through the streets of Burundi's capital city, is sporadically exciting. It takes place during the day, the enemies seem a little smarter, and the urban architecture with its large open streets bordered by lots of nooks and alleys complements the methodical sniping style of gameplay.

No multiplayer modes are included, so there isn't any reason to play Marine Sharpshooter II again once you've finished the single-player campaign. Actually, there isn't much reason to continue playing once you've finished the second, kind-of-good mission. And honestly, there isn't much reason to even do that. Still, there's a germ of a good idea here. Maybe Jarhead will nail it in the next installment.

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Marine Sharpshooter II: Jungle Warfare More Info

  • First Released Jun 24, 2004
    • PC
    Marine Sharpshooter II: Jungle Warfare is better than Marine Sharpshooter, but it's still not good.
    Average Rating125 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Jarhead Games
    Published by:
    KISS Ltd., Groove Games
    First-Person, Shooter, 3D, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Blood, Strong Language, Violence