For those of you who can remember, some time ago, there was a game set during World War 2 called Sniper Elite. In that game, your hero, had to stalk the streets of Stalingrad, picking off the invading Naziís as stealthily as possible. The game garnered critical acclaim and was a popular title. OK so it didnít make the money that games like the then fledgling Medal of Honour series made, but it didnít do too badly and is still remembered fondly and heck, if I had a copy Iíd still play it today.
The game had genuine tension and really had you thinking your way through each area, avoiding enemy patrols because if they found you, you got nailed unless you could find an area providing cover. Oh yes that was a game that was unique and there were no other games that came close to emulating it. Now some years later, there is at last a rival.
You cannot claim this is a sequel, as itís made by a different studio and publisher and itís as far away removed from World War 2 as is possible. Now itís the modern day, and the setting is no longer the city streets of a war torn city, now itís in the middle of a steaming jungle in a fictional country.
The storyline is simple. In a far off corner of the world, a dictator called Rodriguez has made life somewhat unpleasant for the locals. So the good old U.S. of A sends in a team to take care of the problem. But this is no squad based shooter, no sir. Itís you and a point man that has the enviable task of tracking the rogue general down and removing him. Thereís only one way that this is going to end, and thatís in tears before bedtime. We are not talking about giving the general a stiff talking to, and locking him up. No, the only way of dealing with the man is by putting a slug through his head at a distance and then making sure you can survive to get to the extraction zone and back home. Needless to say this is far easier said than done.
Thatís the story in a nutshell. In fact it could be a modern day Hollywood blockbuster and if it hasnít been influenced by the films Sniper and Sniper 2 then Iíll eat my bush hat! OK time to move on from the plot to the game itself.
There is the usual tutorial section, where you as an expert sniper, are training a group of soldiers. This is useful so you can get to grips with the games mechanics. Youíll soon get the idea that this is, as I said no Medal of Honour clone. The tutorial has you doing what the game title says you do, sniping. Thankfully these early targets donít shoot back but youíll soon realise that this game will require some exercising of not just the trigger finger, but the grey matter as well.
The tutorial will advise you that with distance the bullet will actually take a natural downward turn as it speeds towards its target. You will learn that a cross wind will also affect the bullets flight path. Then thereís the small matter of controlling your own breathing. Sounds like its complicated and if you skip the tutorial, then you will truly struggle. (It might help if you have played Sniper Elite because that had the same elements too) Oh you can learn how the game plays without it, but it will take some getting used to. You have been warned!
Right thatís the basics but how do you control everything? The usual mix of buttons and analogue sticks will guide your character through the game. Left stick to move, right stick to turn, nothing new here. Weapons can be swapped by a press of the triangle button; square reloads the chosen weapon (Pistol, sniper rifle and a knife). Pressing down on the d pad selects a rope and grapple hook that you will need from time to time.
Aiming is achieved by pressing L1, and if you are using a scope, pressing up on the D pad, activates a gradual zoom mode on the sight. L2 if pressed whilst aiming steadies the aim and indeed makes you still your breathing. Be warned; hold your breath too long and you will black out! If hurt, pressing down on the D pad, makes you use your hypodermic charged with healing medicine. Be warned, you only have three of these per mission stage so use them wisely. If under cover you will slowly regain some health, but this not being a fantasy shooter, it will replenish itself but slowly. R1 is your weapons trigger, and also acts as the button allocated for melee attacks. Oh I almost forgot, you will be also given a small supply of grenades.
Basically this is a stealth based shooter that tips its hat a little to Ghost Recon. The jungle setting also brings a flavour of the original Far Cry to mind. Using the circle button alters your stance from standing to crouched, and if held down, will put your character into the fully prone position. Prone is by far the most useful position to be in, this goes without saying. Make use of that as well as whatever cover you can find from the foliage because if you give your position away then you will be in serious trouble.
As the game progresses, you will unlock better weapons so that should entice you to continue on. But be advised there is a certain amount of frustration attached to this game and itís not restricted just to the difficulty of the missions!
Right, letís get down to the breakdown shall we?