Tag Archive: City Interactive

You’ll Never See It Coming

When we think of most military shooters, we think of epic, Michael Bay-inspired moments and frantic, run-and-gun firefights, but sometimes you can change the world more with a single, well-placed bullet than a boxload of clips. There’s a stealthy aspect of war that’s sometimes forgotten about in the modern military first-person shooter—the men who, when they do their job right, you don’t even know they were there.

I speak, of course, of the sniper. While they’re commonly relegated to the role of a long-distance throwaway henchman in most games, real-world snipers are some of the most feared combatants in many environments, as they can decimate enemy forces before the victims even know what hit them. That’s why, when I got a chance to go hands-on with a couple levels from the upcoming Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2, I knew I was in for a very different FPS experience.

The first level had me decked out in jungle camo as we infiltrated an unspecified area of the Philippines. Working my through thick foliage and past meager riverside huts, I was quickly introduced to a variety of mechanics I don’t normally see in games. The first was the icon in my scope that let me know where my bullets would hit—and since every bullet is affected by wind and the force of gravity, it was seldom the precise spot where my crosshairs were aiming. With a quick pull of the trigger, I took out a guard smoking a cigarette and was startled as the camera violently shook. I was then informed that a smoother, slower squeeze of the trigger would lessen the recoil and make my shots more accurate, just as if I were shooting an actual sniper rifle.

The Phillippines level was a breeze for someone with as much FPS experience as me, but the devs were quick to note that I was playing on Casual, which means I had access to a few features that wouldn’t be accessible on the higher difficulty levels. On Normal or Hard, the enemies won’t be automatically marked on the minimap—I’d need to spot them with my binoculars. I’d also need to estimate the bullet drop myself, since that handy reticule wouldn’t be there to help.

Even on Casual, however, my skills were put to the test when we took on the next level, a flashback to war-torn Sarajevo in the early ’90s. Here, enemies were more numerous and frantically searching for insurgents, making it much harder to camp and take out enemies one by one. This is where the game’s heartbeat mechanic really came into play. In several instances, I found myself taking enemy fire, which caused my in-game heart rate to skyrocket. As a result, it was much more difficult to steady my rifle for a killing shot on subsequent enemies. And with only a pistol, knife, and said sniper rifle to count on, every time my adversaries tried to rush my position, I was in for the fight of my life.

This is when it really dawned on me, and the concept for the game started to come together. This wasn’t your standard military shooter as much as it was a stealth game. The scenarios you find yourself in may have the window dressing of your other military shooters, but Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is shaping up into something more akin to Hitman than Call of Duty. Fans of the first game will appreciate a lot of the changes that were made to also prevent this game from heading down that typical FPS path, like the removal of the run-and-gun assault rifle segments in favor of more dedicated sniping gameplay.

All in all, our time with the game was unfortunately very short, but I was amazed at how much fun I was having crawling through the tall grass and lining up headshot after headshot. The new mechanics added interesting levels of nuance to sniping. Fans of the first Sniper will love the new changes, while newcomers will appreciate the breath fresh of air this gives military FPS games. I can’t wait to see the full game when Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 releases in late Q1 2013.

Face Towards Enemy

When we look back at how first-person shooters have evolved over the past decade or so, WWII was really the setting that started it all and set us down on this path that has led us to modern and futuristic weaponry and intricate geo-political storylines that may be rooted in some obscure facts. But the folks at City Interactive want to make sure that we do not forget about the past and so in a market flooded with modern settings, they give us Enemy Front, an old-school, no holds barred, down and dirty WWII first-person shooter that reminds us why its so much fun to romanticize our grandfather’s war and just blow Nazis up.

In Enemy Front you play as an American OSS Ranger who epitomizes the strong, silent type. Inserted into Nazi occupied Europe during the invasion of Dunkirk while the Allies are in full retreat, you’re running in the opposite direction, headfirst right into the teeth of the Nazi war machine. There, you will team up with a sexy female French resistance fighter and a no frills British commando to work your way deep behind enemy lines to take out key Nazi installations as your mission won’t take you on the traditional direct line to Berlin. Instead you’ll fight through at least France, Poland, and Norway as you assault some of Hitler’s most prized outposts in order to help the Allies turn the tide of the war. And because of the variety of locales, don’t expect this to be your typical five-hour campaign.

“A big thing I wanted to do was get out of that 5-hour campaign rut. I’m sick of it. I’m a huge FPS fan myself, obviously, and it’s just like as I’m about to really get into these other games that are out there, it’s over. So our levels are looking to be about an hour long each. They’re built on CryEngine 3. You can do pretty wide open levels with that, but we’ve kept things relatively linear. It’s a bit of a corridor shooter, but you’ll see that it’s a very wide corridor and you still have options on paths to take and what not. I’m a big believer in the Power of Three when it comes to game development. Anytime you’re thinking of a number in development, it’s probably three. So at any given moment, in terms of level design, I want to player to have at least three choices as to where they’re going and what they’re going to do. And so we’re looking at about 11 levels and hoping to get about 12 hours out of the campaign,” says Enemy Front Creative Director Stuart Black.

Enemy Front also looks to differentiate itself via the weapons it allows you to use and how they can be used in combat. Spotlighting a lot of less featured weapons from most other WWII games allows the game to have a newer feel in this old-school genre as weapons like the British Lanchester SMG are actually your character’s weapons of choice. There is also a unique reload system where you can reload your weapon faster, no matter what it is, if the clip hasn’t been fully emptied. This risk/reward system can become critical in a firefight as you have to strategically plan when to reload as a longer reload caused by emptying the clip could mean the difference between life and death.

But just because a lot of focus is being keyed in on the single player campaign for the game doesn’t mean it won’t have a multiplayer feature. Looking to incorporate a territory-based twist to your standard Team Deathmatch, Enemy Front will definitely allow you to jump online with your buddies for some WWII setting multiplayer mayhem. Beyond the confirmation of Team Deathmatch though, there was nothing else that was willing to be revealed about the mode at this time.

All in all, this throwback seems like a breath of fresh air as, even with its simplified scene and story, it gives the player a real sense of empowerment pitting you against the entire Third Reich and giving you a legit chance to come out on top. I can’t wait to return to my WWII first-person shooter roots a bit when Enemy Front comes out during this upcoming holiday season.

I ain’t afraid of no Ghosts

For a lot of shooters nowadays, the idea of patience is taboo, like it was some naughty word or an out of date, ignorant way of thinking. Run and gun has become synonymous for the most part with this genre, especially those of the first-person, military-based variety. Many franchises that even once revolved around stealth have abandoned their proud roots for the sake of just getting the bullets to fly as fast and as furiously as possible. The folks at City Interactive though feel there is still a strong base of gamers out there who would enjoy a more involved simulation that rewards you for taking your time, being precise, and not making a sound. And so we here at EGM got into our best camos, snuck into our game room, and sat down for a demo of Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2.

The first thing we immediately took notice of was the detailed and rich environments we saw in the two-level preview we were given. Courtesy of the power of CryEngine 3, the levels we saw were massive in scope yet still were able to highlight the tiniest of details as if we were actually in those locations. Also, whereas in the first game you were relegated to jungle environments, you’re going to get a lot more diversity in Sniper 2 in terms of location and that was evident in that we saw both an urban and jungle level in our demo, and we were promised some campaign levels in the Himalayas, although we did not actually see them.

The new engine also allowed a lot of the A.I. issues that those who played the original Sniper complained about to really be cleaned up with enemies reacting much more dynamically to you when you were spotted. The new engine also allows a lot more enemies on screen at once. Really focusing in on the stealth elements, there were whole sections of the levels we saw where discretion was the better part of valor and it was much smarter just maneuvering around enemies instead of engaging them in any way.

There is also a lot more feedback being given to the player. Picking up enemy snipers from the glint on their rifles, tagging patrolling foes via binoculars, and a whole new detection system have been implemented to help you work your way through levels.

“The main difference compared to the first Sniper Ghost Warrior in terms of detection feedback is we were only telling players if we were being spotted at the moment, but it never told us from which direction. So we added the direction tracker to make it easier to maneuver away from enemy sights as now only when the indicator fully fills up does it actually register with the enemy A.I. that he’s spotted us. So if I move slowly and carefully enough, I can correct any errors I may make and back up back into cover,” said Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 Producer Michael Sroczynski

Aside from the A.I. and environments though, there is even more going into this franchise facelift. Your rifle selection has increased to allow for bolt-action rifles. There are now several different stealth kill animations including kidney stabbing and throat slitting. You can blow off enemy body parts if you hit them in the right spots with the right weapons and ammunition. And, of course, bullet cam is returning, where when you get those special kills, whether it be a really far off enemy or the last guy in a crowded room, the camera does a panoramic around the bullet as it releases from your rifle and tears through the flesh and bone of your foe, putting him down like the dog that he is.

City Interactive is also implementing a Custom Difficulty mode on top of the traditional Easy, Medium, and Hard modes. This Custom Difficulty will allow you to choose what assists you do or do not want. If you want wind resistance to be on, but not gravity factors, or if you don’t want to have to take weights and balances into account, but still want to be able to hold your breath to steady your shot, then this mode will be perfect for all those micro-managers out there. But, if you want the most accurate sniper simulation possible, then leaving most of those factors on is the way to go.

With our demo complete and dozens of digital denizens’ brains blown out, I admit that the only thing I could think of was that fellow fans of stealth and headshots should definitely be looking forward to this game. If this tasty tidbit was any sign of things to come, then I can’t wait to grab my spotter and head back into the shadows when Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 releases this summer on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.