Isla Trueno, Colombia is a nice little island. Beautiful beaches, clear water, and awesome looking jungles as far as one can see. It’s also home to an ultra-rare form of uranium called Black 235, whose trade allows the local dictator General Manuel Vasquez to acquire military hardware and infrastructure. At first glance Vasquez is basically a drug dealer who was send by the cartel to Isla Trueno to run their drug operations on the island. This of course didn’t keep him from overthrowing the government, cleansing the island from any of his opposition and clean out whole neighborhoods with his deaths squads. The world watched it happening. The island is after all rich with resources and everyone wants a piece of it. So all is well on Isla Trueno? Well, it would be if the government Vasquez overthrew hadn’t been a US-backed one. Now a highly trained special ops team arrives on the island with one goal and one goal only: kill Vasquez.
In most of the 16 missions of the game, the player is put into the shoes of Gunnery Sergeant Tyler Wells, a MOS 0317 (Scout Sniper). Crawling from cover to cover in first person with one of the four different sniper models including the Russian Dragunov and the German MSG-90, carefully lining up shots and vanishing into the scenery after the kill has been made. Tyler also has access to a silenced pistol and throwing knives if things get a bit more personal, but most of the time the player views his targets from at least a 100 meters away.
Getting the kill-shot at such a range isn’t an easy task, especially considering that the AI can hear and find the origin of a shot pretty fast. So one shot, one kill or the whole camp is alerted to the player’s presence. In this regard, Sniper: Ghost Warrior is all about realism. When using the sniper, many things factor into whether or not the bullet will hit its target. The trajectory for example is influenced by the distance (the higher, the more the bullet looses velocity until the target), the wind direction (moving the bullet from left to right) and the pulse of Tyler. Expecting to run to cover and then immediately make the headshot is a no-go and instead an exercise in trying to keep the cross-hair from swinging around so much. If the enemy is moving, the player also has to factor in the time the bullet takes to the target. In addition there are some materials the bullet can go through – including multiple enemies standing in a row. At the lower difficulty levels, the player can hold his breath to activate a slow-motion effect, the enemies are marked red (and friendlies can’t even be injured) and a small red circle shows where the bullet will hit to make it easier for inexperienced players. If the target zone is around the head area, a (deactivate-able) killcam will activate, showing how the bullet flies to and into the target, making for a gory depiction of the kill.
The game however doesn’t solely feature sniper stealth missions. Instead during the campaign, the player will slip into the boots of other members of the team like the spotter, which makes out targets for the sniper and normal grunts. They run guns blazing through the enemy camp, using standard equipment like the M16 or AK-47 (picked up from fallen enemies) as well as a destructive perk to take out the enemy while searching for the secret laptops scattered around the levels. They unlock access to email-messages, giving a little more context to what is happening on the island.
In single player, the game uses a mixture of medipacks and automatic healing. If the player’s health goes under 30 and he gets to safety fast, his health will regenerate back to 30. For everything above he needs to find said medi-packs of which he can carry five at a time. In multiplayer it’s all about auto regeneration. Here up to eight players can try to find and kill each other on the six large maps in three different game-modes: Deathmatch, Team-Deathmatch, and VIP. The latter is a ‘King of the Hill’ variant in which a random player is assigned the status of VIP at the start of the round. Killing him, will result in more points for the killer and transfer of the VIP status to that player. In multiplayer each player carries the standard equipment sniper, pistol and knives. Which sniper he gets depends on his class choice. Each of the four classes also differs in how much health they have and how fast they can run.