There are very few sniper games I have enjoyed. Usually they wind up being too arcade like (think Counter-Strike) or too technical for my tastes. For instance I lasted all of 20 minutes on Sniper Elite (not V2) before deciding I hated it and never wanted to play it again. Sniper: Ghost Warrior is hands down my favorite sniper themed game to date. It had enough technical depth that you just couldn't go firing at anything without taking a couple things into account but also allowed me to do enough shooting that I didn't get bored. Let's get into the gory details.
The menu options in Ghost Warrior were a mixed bag. You could adjust anisotropic filtering, but it lacked the option to adjust Vsync, and antialiasing. The game had the option to use both quick saves as well as manual saves on top of their built in checkpoint save system. The save and load times were both very fast. The story to the game is not very well explained at the beginning. You are dropped into a jungle on a sniping mission with very little explanation as to what country you are in, why you are there or who you are after. A 2 minute opening video to set the mood and explain things would have been nice. It didn't help that in this game you end up being put in the shoes of 3 different characters at different points and not always told that you have switched characters. The story itself when I did understand it was pretty thin and cliched. A dictator somewhere in South America or Central America is getting his kicks by executing civilians so you must take this madman out. On a last note I will mention that once you begin a game you can't change the difficulty after wards. As always, this displeases me.
Graphically Ghost Warrior is pretty good. She isn't breaking any records for prettiest game but she is far from bottom of the barrel either. The water and foliage were both very well done. The character models were also pretty decent. I also thought the reload animations on the pistol and rifles were some of the best of recent memory. I was sad to see that dead bodies would disappear after maybe 30 seconds to a minute. My PC has more than enough power to be able to render them there for as long as I am in the area but the developer seemed to not want to take advantage and maybe put an option to keep them there longer in the options. The blood on the ground as well as the blood mist when enemies were shot also looked really fake. Some bodies didn't even have bullet holes. I miss the days of Far Cry where the bullet holes on the bodies were exactly where they were shot and it would display how many ever of them there were. The quality of ground objects such as rubble, gravel, and crates were also pretty poor quality. I noticed several graphical glitches such as when I went prone I would get what looked kind of like screen tearing (FPS was under 60 so couldn't be that) and sometimes the grass would sway through things like tires.
The audio really helped me get into the game. The background music wasn't overwhelming and the footstep detection was fantastic. I would sometimes find myself hearing an enemy that I could not see through the bushes hoping that he couldn't see or hear me. It sounds trivial but to even hear if they were walking through a puddle showed a great attention to detail. I thought the reload sounds for the weapons were great as well.
Now to the most important part: game play. Something no game can live without. As I said earlier I though Ghost Warrior had a great balance. You had to adjust for wind conditions as well as distance and your heart rate. As the action picked up and if more enemies knew you were close by your heart rate would increase making the sway of your rifle more pronounced. I played the game on normal difficulty and at that level the game did give me a red dot when I was zoomed in that showed me exactly where my shot would land. Now this didn't always guarantee that I didn't have to factor anything in because several times throughout the game I still had to factor for wind because that red dot was not where my bullet was landing. I don't know if on hard difficulty that red dot does not get used at all. I usually dislike regen health systems but this is one of the few games that do it right in my books. Your health will regen up to 30 if it goes lower and you are not getting shot but won't go higher. You have to find health packs to get your health higher than 30. What I really loved about this game was that it was much more open than most multiplatform games these days. I could shoot every enemy I saw if I so wished or I could try to stealth my way through a level killing no one. The levels were also much bigger than a lot of games these days and the freedom to move around them was great. It really made me feel like I was playing a sniper themed Crysis or Far Cry. Basically I have to get from point A to point B and do something but how I get there and what tactics I use are up to me. I did notice some invisible walls preventing me from going some places but they were far fewer than most games these days. On the nitpick side of things I was happy to see the game gave me the option of toggle crouch but they did not give me the option of toggle aiming. Another nice small touch was that when your holding a weapon and move right up in front of an object your character holds the weapon right to his chest instead of it going either through the object like so many games do.
Sniper Ghost warrior is a game that can appeal to the more action orientated gamer such as myself or to the hardcore sniper players that want to be challenged through stealth. The game sets itself up so that you choose if you want to engage enemies. There are times that you are forced to take enemies out and this is by no means on the same tactical level as Sniper Elite (not V2) but it is a good compromise on both sides. I loved how open the game was level wise and I had a lot of fun. The game lasted me around 10 hours on normal difficulty so it is not a very long game but for a game that can be had for $20 these days that is not bad. This is a good game bordering on great game.