This being my third E3, one universal truth I've found about the show is that there's always a few under the radar titles that should be getting more attention than they do. While a title like Sniper: Ghost Warrior sounds like the kind of budget title that populates wire bins at your local Wal-mart, our hands on time with the game at City Interactive's booth showed us that this game could very well be something much more.
As the name would attest, you play as a sniper caught in a fictional South American nation trying to help bring down an evil dictator. Not everything goes well, and later in the story you'll team up with local rebels to accomplish this goal. The story's been done a million times before, but the gameplay seems rock solid.
While other popular shooters like Call of Duty feature sniping sections, few go into the level of detail and precision that was evident here. Various meters on the screen take into account things like wind strength, direction, and your heart rate. The game also features a distinct ballistic physics engine which gives every bullet fired its own personality and behaviour. If you play on easy mode, a red dot on your cursor will show you exactly where your shot will land.
Keeping your heart rate down is key to success. If you get spotted or engage in fierce firefights, your heart rate will rise, and your aim will be spastic at best. When your heart rate is low, you can use a bullet-time mechanic to truly line up your shots with deadly efficiency.
To help offset the general frustration that would stem from trial and error gameplay; you're usually given a spotter who parks himself far away from the action, and helping to direct you down the right path. With the spotter, it turned what could have been a tedious slog into a well paced run through. The developer we talked to also assured us that there would be 5-10 per cent run and gun action to offset the slower paced stealth sections for greater variety. Also, the game uses a standard health bar instead of regenerative health which is all the rage in shooters these days.
The graphics looked great considering the lower budget of the game. The jungle environments looked lush and full of subtle detail, animation, and huge draw distance. The frame rate and controls were smooth and responsive respectively as well. Weapon modesl and up close objects didn't look quite as sharp, but the graphics are still above average. The game utilizes the Chrome 4 engine, the same engine that powered Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood. The environment also adds variety by throwing things like convincing rain, mist, and darkness to give you different weather challenges.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior will sneak its way onto Xbox 360 and PC on June 29th.