Before we get into the meat of this review - which is a largely bile-filled rant about less-than-perfect games - there's an admission we must make.
We're pro-sniping. We're the kind of gamer that gets called a camper (and often much worse) because if a game developer gives us a precision sniping tool and good roosts to use it... we're going to do it. It's a valid tactic, and our standard response to anyone sick of getting head-shotted for the fifth time in a row as they try and take the central flag in dod_donner (hey, we're old school) is that they might want to go play Risk or Tetris if they'd rather play something where getting shot is the whole damn point. But we digress.
So, all that said, you'd think then that a game that has as its central premise would be like .50 calibre ammunition from heaven.
Yeah, we'd like to think that too...
High hopes dashed
So here's the game's premise - you're a member of an elite spec-ops team (the Ghost Warriors) who specialise in small unit actions. Like sneaking into the jungles of a third world country and helping overthrow a military dictator through the use of well-applied headshots. It's nothing new in gaming, the kind of thing we've been getting comfortable with since Rainbow Six, but the execution in this instance starts off flawed and gets progressively worse.
First up, if any government, and we can only assume this is a US government operation, wanted rid of a troublesome regime so badly... they wouldn't use a sniper. Sure, some of the game features the need to train up locals and support their insurgency in more traditional engagements, but snipers aren't used like this anymore - this is why we have Predator drones, after all.
It might seem a mighty small bone to pick, but a game that prides itself on incredible realism is making a claim it better back that up across the entire gameplay experience, not just in one mechanic.
But instead of a full military intervention, or CIA-style backroom deals and 'materiel support' we get the more heroic Hollywood take - lone men in the jungle in half-baked ghilli suits, delivering kills at a range that hardly require an expert rifleman, let alone a fully-trained sniper.
Even worse than that kind of setup are the contrived plot-hooks and surprises every other level. It's typified by the your first assignment, a military strong-man caricature with a penchant for cigars. You sneak through the guards, get to your roost (or 'sniping spot' as the poor script puts it), and take your shot. Bang, you say.
However, at this exact moment, for no readily apparent reason, a nearby fuel pipeline blows up, knocking down your opponent before your round strikes. The entire level is then so designed so that the badguy can make a clean get away.
Don't even get me started on the fucked up physics in this either. Sheesh!