Cart: Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 Cab: Xbox 360 / PS3 / PC Coin: City Interactive
Some achieve greatness by virtue of their innate talents and god-gifted abilities; others through sheer hard-slog and trial-and-error. City Interactive fall into category two.
Perhaps the most prolific developer that you’ve never heard of; City Interactive have busied themselves over the last decade in an earnest and committed manner, churning out budget titles on a wide variety of platforms covering almost every genre imaginable. Some might call this a cynical approach; I call it an honest day’s work. Why shouldn’t there be a Yin to Valve’s Yang?
Throw enough mud at the wall and something will stick. Whilst their original Sniper: Art of Victory was a WWII endeavour best left forgotten, it was Sniper: Ghost Warrior in 2010 that provided City Interactive with their first home-run. Widely derided by the gaming press as an uninspired glitch-fest, the public were quick to look past the noise and embrace it for what it was: a fair old romp at a fair old price.
The against-all-odds success of S:GW1 is perhaps one of the most proud moments of the modern gaming era. Who says that Metacritic ratings count for everything? Indeed, who says that scoring a game is the best way to quantify it full-stop?
And so, after eight, long years of diligently searching and experimenting, City Interactive finally stumbled upon something special. All power to them. With money finally in their pockets and a renewed sense of purpose in mind, they approached S:GW2 with a certain swagger in their step – and rightfully so. But does it deliver or is it mutton-dressed-up-as-lamb?
It’s a far cry from the fidelity of S:GW1
A bit of both, to be fair. Wisely remaining in the budget-range, S:GW2’s value is hard to criticise. Significantly more stunning than S:GW1 thanks to the Crysis 3 engine upon which it is built; this walks and talks like a top-tier title. Albeit one from the late 90’s. The lack of real ambition is evident here but so is a sense of fun and, well, irreverence. Although the game is clearly inspired by the OTT sniper sections from COD, it avoids attempting to out-do it’s millionaire half-brother and instead adopts a more predictable and arguably realistic pace. Mixing close-range corridor sections designed for pistol and knife with expansive sniper shooting-galleries; this is a game that knows what its audience wants and is more than happy to deliver.
Placing an emphasis on careful selection and timing of kills provides just enough strategy and suspense to keep you in-character. You soon settle into a somewhat predictable rhythm, however, and it’s a game best enjoyed in small doses – but what it does, it does very well. In fact, it makes you wonder why Activision haven’t responded by producing a spin-off COD sniper title of their own.
But where from here?
Given their somewhat low-brow credentials, it may well be that City Interactive settle for milking this budget-beast for all it’s worth until they next strike gold. I can handle that. Or perhaps; perhaps they might look to the calibre and ambition of their Eastern European brethren at Crytek for a little more than merely a game engine and produce something truly special?