Tag Archive: sniper

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.

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.

Originally Published: August 9, 2011, on EGMNOW.COM

One of the most charming and long lasting impressions that you take away from Comic-Con is the pure love and devotion that people are willing to show by pouring hours on end into costumes just to go gallivanting around the Con for a few days. Some put more thought and effort in than others and some simply relish the opportunity to show off some of their finer…ummm…assets, but no matter what the reason behind it, cos-playing is one of those things that define the Con and is proof positive as to why this is the pop culture extravaganza that it is. On that note, here are some of our favorites that we saw while roaming the show floor.

1. Castle Crashers: CHARGE! When released in 2008 as part of the Xbox Summer of Arcade that year, few knew the intense following the simple side-scroller beat ‘em up Castle Crashers would encourage and these two gentlemen here are proof positive why it was a hit.

2.Catwoman: Puuurrrfect in every way, this femme fatale is a comic book staple for over 70 years now and is a favorite for female Con-goers everywhere representing the strong independent woman mindset. The authentic bullwhip also works as a deterrent for those of us who ogle too long.

3.Ghostbusters: Who ya gonna call?! Probably not these guys. It wouldn’t be a Comic-Con though without staples like Slave Leias, Stormtroopers, or a fearless foursome in brown jumpsuits. Including prop ghost traps and proton packs, these guys (and lady) are ready to believe you.

4. Black Cat: If this is what Black Cat looks like, you might have to question Peter Parker’s tastes for sticking with Mary Jane all those years when he had this waiting for him for a long while. Although rather harmless looking, this feisty feline knows where to hurt you the most.

5. Portal: Lacking in characters to cos-play as, did not act as a deterrent this year for Portal fans. This group found a way to put everyone in a costume with Chele, a pair of portals, and even a very lovely Companion Cube. They all deserve some cake for their efforts.

6. CoD Sniper: As the world rushes by him, the quiet and calm sniper stays hidden in the brush, waiting patiently for his target to finally enter his sights. Holding my breath, I quickly squeezed the trigger when this Sniper wandered into my sights due to the great effort put into his costume.

7. Waldo: Where is he? Right here. And I found his girlfriend, too. I always was very good at those books. I wonder just how much they actually blended in though once they made it through the Con doors and mingled amongst the huge crowds.

8. Army of Two: You can tell cos-players take their craft seriously when you ask them for a picture and they strike a pose relevant to the characters they are portraying. Unfortunately for them, the Call of Duty Sniper from earlier is off camera ready to take them both out.

9. Female Assassin: A huge fan favorite this year was people dressed as Assassin’s Creed characters. The fan turnout was rewarded by Ubisoft as those who dressed as AC characters and attended their Saturday panel, like our female assassin here, were promised free autographed Signature Editions of Revelations when released.

10. Princess Peach: Not the most traditional Peach, but if this is what is always awaiting Mario, no wonder why he keeps going through eight castles for her and that Bowser won’t stop kidnapping her. If your choice was this girl or weird little mushroom people, well, is it really a choice then?

11. Street Fighter: Another group shot, these folks decided to take on the guise of several protagonists from the Street Fighter series including fan favorites like Chun-Li, Ryu, and Blanka. They sure let themselves go since Super Street Fighter IV was released though, haven’t they?