Over the years we’ve been treated to plenty of great Sniper games. Looking down the barrel, adjusting for bullet drop, checking wind, taking a deep breath and finally… firing. Long range combat at it’s finest can be found in the likes of Sniper Elite, Sniper: Ghost Warrior and Hitman Sniper challenge. Sabec’s simply named “Sniper” on PS4 will not be joining this list. This game is a huge misfire.
Each game of Sniper begins in the same low-poly environment. A battlefield complete with a beachhead, bunkers, trenches, some trees and a small war torn town, you’re free to move around all of it. There’s no wildlife or ambience of any kind. In fact, the game is mostly quiet with the occasional short lived burst of spy-inspired music that ends as soon as it begins. There’s also a deceptively shallow amount of interactivity in this game world – ladders in towers exist but can’t be climbed and some houses have internals that are not possible to traverse.
The aim of each game of Sniper is to shoot wave after wave of soldiers that spawn in an ever increasing amount before a) the time runs out or b) you’re spotted and shot by your prey. It’s an interesting premise. It’s the execution that’s lacking any depth, detail, entertainment or purposeful design.
Let’s start with the structure. Wave 1 begins and in huge writing you’re informed “FOLLOW THE RED ARROW TO HELP LOCATE YOUR TARGETS”. Except that’s not true. At all. A red arrow appears on screen and it points in the general direction of the area that the enemies have spawned. There’s zero accuracy to this arrow that, within 30 seconds, will point to where the enemies were and won’t move once they’re spread out. It’s not uncommon to head in the direction that the red arrow is pointing in only to get shot in the back by a soldier in the exact opposite direction.
There’s no warning to this either. As soon as a line of sight between the player and the AI soldier is established, the screen freezes, they shoot and you die. Sniper doesn’t give you a chance to reply, hide or fire first. I’ve been shot by a speck in the distance and I’ve been shot from between the planks of wood making a hodgepodge wall. The second you’re seen it’s game over and you’re starting from scratch. Not that that matters at all because the only reward for successfully eliminating an entire wave of soldiers is more ammo in order to do it all over again with another wave that’s the same only with +1 target to eliminate. Sarcastic YAY!
It’s a miracle that these soldiers you’re hunting even know how to shoot because doing everything else seems like a struggle for them. While watching them down the scope of my Sniper rifle, I’ve watched these soldiers walk into walls and just treadmill there for a moment as they bounce off the environment. I’ve missed shots next to their heads, hitting the wall right next to them and they’ve not reacted. Remember that scene in Hot Shots Part Deux when Charlie Sheen hits everything but his target? Yeah, I’ve done that a few times and the troop has not responded to the wall I’m turning into Swiss cheese. They’ve walked over the dead bodies of their teammates and not flinched or responded. The AI in this game is little more than a shy shooting gallery that’ll end the game if it sees you watching.
That wouldn’t be so bad if the shooting had any depth to it in “Sniper”. Instead, it’s point and shoot. There’s no wind to account for. No bobbing or movement for breathing. No bullet drop. The bullet will land in the centre of the cross hairs no matter how far away the target is. Shots sound like a BB Gun being fired and reloading sounds like a kid playing with Duplo. It’s a very basic shooting system.
Even when you have lined up a shot, and with such simplistic shooting mechanics, you can’t guarantee it’ll land. That’s because the visual look and structure of objects in the environment doesn’t correspond to their physical attributes. A perfect shot lined up through a gap in a wire fence won’t land, for example, because the gaps in the fence you can see through are actually invisible walls. There’s plenty of examples of this in Sniper’s environment.
Lastly, Sniper appears to be a little unstable as a program. Twice in the first hour of loading the game did the game boot me to the PS4 error message screen when loading up Wave 1 of the troops to stalk. My motivation to play the game any longer waned entirely when it happened a third time.
Much like Sabec’s other games I recently reviewed – Bowling and Snakes & Ladders – this is a bare bones experience. Again, like Bowling, this game doesn’t even have a Pause menu. There’s no leader boards, no multiplayer and nothing outside of a moving shooting gallery despite providing “XP” which does diddly squat.
The only moments in Sabec’s Sniper that I’ve enjoyed have been the tracking shots. Much like in Sniper Elite (without any of the X-Ray kill cam, mind), the camera will occasionally fly alongside the trajectory of the bullet until it lands in its target. Even these are a touch odd as the bullet seems to spin in a weird spiral formation which isn’t the direction it’s heading. Still, credit where credit is due – it’s a nice little touch.
With so many other sniper games available on the market that provide mechanical depth, narrative and a dearth of features, it’s hard to justify the existence of Sabec’s Sniper or recommend it in any capacity. The environment is initially interesting but it’s such a poorly designed, awkward experience that’s so bare bones, it’ll have outstayed its welcome within half an hour of play. While it’s a cool concept, the execution shoots it in the foot and leaves it for dead.
Sniper is available now on PlayStation 4 (reviewed on a base PS4).
Developer: Sabec Interactive
Publisher: Sabec Interactive
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, a copy of the game was purchased. For our full review policy, please go here.
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