ONE DECADE LATER
SNIPER: GHOST WARRIOR
In today’s modern age, if Sniper: Ghost Warrior was a person – it would have the face for radio. This game has aged like milk. That’s not to say the game does not have it’s charm. If you look back at the review of this game it was given a somewhat positive look compared to future instalments. Many of these shortcomings can be given to the developers but you must also understand the developer at the same time.
CIGames are not EA or Ubisoft or even Activision. The budget that these companies put into games CIGames can only dream of making, they are to the gaming industry as Jack Daniels is to whisky: Cheap and accessible. Not everyone’s go to but it’s something.
Keeping with this metaphor for another moment – I don’t mean to say that people don’t like the cheaper option, but would you rather drink Jack, or Johnny Walker? If we compare Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood to Sniper: Ghost Warrior we can see the difference immediately in both, Production quality & Budget. So let’s just do that.
Trying to find the budget for these games has been hard but I wouldn’t be wrong in saying: Chalk and Cheese. To work off the assumption that Call of Juarez – produced by Techland (known for Dying Light) and published by Ubisoft (Known for the Rainbow Six Series) – is going to have a larger budget than Sniper: Ghost Warrior that was both developed and published by CIGames.
This may come as a surprise but both companies – 3 if you want to count Ubisoft – have long histories that span over 10 years. Let’s just not include Ubisoft in this as they have more experience than the combined years of both studios so Techland v CIGames it is.
Kicking things off is Techland sporting a current employee count of around 300. To be generous let’s half that to 150 for the time. This still puts CIGames at the disadvantage as Ubisoft made the move to create this game and this means that from when it was announced -in January 2009- it was out the doors June of the same year. This gives two distinct advantages: A longer development time and a bigger budget.
This budget and time was put to good use. Both protagonists can be used to play the majority of the story. Some sections are locked to a specific person, but for the most part you can go in guns blazing or take a stealthy approach to most situations. It is also reflected in the overall quality of the games graphics. Though the hair looks as close to plastic as possible, everything else looks good.
In comparison, Sniper: Ghost Warrior looks a bit more dated. Though most of the people you play as are essentially bald: thematically it fits. As such we cannot compare how plastic the hair looks but we can talk about the games overall shortcomings. Both lighting and water are essentially basic. You are either in a shadow or you are in the open. Water is something that we don’t really need to talk about as you hardly see any water in the game. Outside of 1 mission: If you’re looking at the water, you’re doing it wrong.
This flips for Call of Juarez however. Grass and shrubbery are pretty basic – once again this thematically fits the game. Whilst one game is a Modern Military Shooter (MMS), the other is a Wild Western Shooter. Not much grass in the desert last I checked. The water does look amazing in this game – not sure why they spent so much time working on the water texture but for 2009, it’s impressive.
Both teams clearly set their budget in different ways, this however is an unfair comparison. As I stated earlier – One game was self published and self funded, the other had the backing of one of the biggest developers and publishers in the current market. I can say that in the overall scope of things, both games do some things better than the others. The teams were focused on what would make the game better and what would fit within the theme: Snipers need tall grass, Westerns need good stories.
This to me -and to everyone reading- seems like a very unfair fight. And you are right, this is Triple A vs Budget. This fight was chosen via 2 factors. Release Date & Engine. I was looking for 2 games, both released in 2010 and both running on the Chrome Engine 4. Obviously one of these games started development before 2009 in order to be released within that time. I believe both of these games had similar lengths in development but finding these figures was impossible, even whilst looking through the financial documents I cannot pin when either game entered development. That being said we should still talk about the Production Quality.
In watching both game trailers I could see that these were more akin to gameplay trailers than cinematic trailers. They were both clearly used to give an idea of what you should expect from the game. Call of Juarez trailer tells us about the story of the game and gives us an idea of what the game will look like and what to expect from the story. Comparatively, Sniper: Ghost Warrior shows us a jungle settings with our protagonist in a ghillie suit overlooking a village and the main target (if you will) in a helicopter.
We are treated to a nice look at what to expect in each trailer. Both fit their respective genre and help you understand the concept of the games. One of these trailers does make it’s respective game seem better than the competition though, this particular trailer focuses on the story over the gameplay and lets you know that it is not a simple tale. We are given a glimpse into how each team pushed the engine and a look at the overall aesthetics that each game will present.
The story of both games is where the overall production quality can be found. One game takes an overall 3 hours or so to complete and most of the story is told in the loading screens over a few sentences of dialogue. The other is an 8 hour narrative with multiple choices in protagonist and an array of mechanics that help immerse the player in the setting. I’m sure you can dissect what game is what.
When looking at the review scores for each game we can also see how the quality is reflected. Though neither game is inherently bad and each have their own pitfalls that are reminiscent of their time, things like stilted voice acting, rigid animations and repetitive scenery help show the age of both games. This however only extends to the textures of Sniper: Ghost Warrior. Some places look good and can be quite detailed whilst other places are lacking in such polish. Things like the depth in the grain of wood or even the detail of the grain has some striking differences.
Minuscule details that you wouldn’t normally notice help set games like this apart, yet the biggest difference I find is how memorable the game truly is. To do that we need to look at the story. Sniper: Ghost Warrior is a nice little flash in the pan, the story is flimsy and boring. You play this game for the gameplay more than the story, it’s nothing that has not already been done before. CIGames had already done similar in Sniper: Art of Victory and back in 2005 we were also given Sniper Elite which is a vastly better series when comparing the story.
Call of Juarez is a rooty-tooty-old-westy-shooty with a historic time period set during and shortly after the American Civil War. The gameplay mechanics help you get comfortable with the setting and the story is paramount to the experience. If the story was as bland and as boring as Sniper: Ghost Warrior the game would be an absolute drag to play. The story in this game revolves around the McCall brothers Ray and Thomas as they desert the war in order to save their farm. That goes as well as expected and they soon learn of Aztec gold that they can use to rebuild their home. The game really hammers home this bond and the intro cinematic lets you know that things do not go well.
That’s called “Intrigue” – this pulls you into the story and ultimately through the slow sections and faster sections of the game, that one cinematic sits on your subconscious. How did these two brothers -as close as they are portrayed- end up split in such a way they are mid stand-off with one another? Guess I have to play the game. Comparatively: Sniper: Ghost Warrior sets you out on a mission and it fails and you just run from arena to arena until you kill the guy. A little one track if you ask me.
TEST OF TIME
Does Sniper: Ghost Warrior stand up in the modern era? Nope. Like I stated in the review of this game:
It’s hard to recommend this game as it already looks dated from release
This to an extent also holds true for Call of Juarez. The difference is, Call of Juarez has a good story to hold onto. This means that no matter how dated it looks, it’s still worth playing and it holds up better.
I cannot recommend you actively buy Sniper: Ghost Warrior in 2020. The game didn’t even hold up in 2010 – maybe its the spoiled milk or my lactose intolerance but this game is painful. Now that’s not to say it’s not worth actually playing. On the contrary, it’s great for killing time. I would rather play this than play the sponsor of today’s article RAID SHADOW LEGENDS. I am now legally obliged to tell you this article was not sponsored.
A far cry from entertaining or a narrative masterpiece this game still manages to be more entertaining than anything I can download on my phone. Yes the story is bad and the gameplay is only slightly better but, it is enough to keep you going. If I didn’t have to buy this game for the review I would never have picked it up after playing Sniper Ghost Warrior: Contracts or after my experience with Sniper Ghost Warrior 3.
In summary: Sniper: Ghost Warrior looked dated from launch, the story has no weight or memorable moments, the gameplay (limply) elevates the experience but it does not hold up 10 Years On. If someone does buy you this game, do thank them and not sarcastically. You never know when you will be sitting bored out of your mind and just need something to pass the time. This game will fill that void. It’s mind numbingly boring and oh so basic but if you just switch off and play the game, don’t think about it just do it… you’ll magically teleport 3 to 4 hours into the future.
Part of Side Mission Blog’s 10 Years On series.