Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Professional Sniper

I must apologise for my disappearing act last week, but I've been incredibly busy working on a project these last couple of weeks. I had fully intended to write a review, but alas it, like many of my other pieces, had to be postponed. I was pretty much drained of all energy last week, and then, after playing Professional Sniper, I was practically comatose.

Now, I'm a big fan of sniper games. I think I would have made a pretty kickass sniper, if I had decided a career of killing strangers was preferable to screenwriting. So it takes an awful lot to make me dislike a sniper game to the point of reviewing it on Big Mean Flash Gamer. In that way Professional Sniper is unique - it has found a place here that few other sniper games ever will.

All in all, it's a pretty straightforward stick figure sniper game, hardly all that different from any similar titles. But Professional Sniper has a couple of big handicaps. The first is mentioned on this notice screen, the little note that you have to keep your sights on the target for 0.4 of a second to make the shot register. It might not sound like much, but that half a second will make all the difference in later levels.

My second problem is this. I hate any sniper game that fills most of the screen with black nothingness. There isn't any option to see the whole screen or zoom in on specific spots, and you aren't able to increase the size of your sight or the accuracy of your gun. All you can really do is swing your sight back and forth across the screen searching for your target, never sure if you've already missed them. It gives the game an unfair advantage, like being forced to bob for apples using only your tongue. And the apples have razors in them.

The earlier levels, ones that don't require lightning fast reflexes and a psychic ability to tell where a target might be, are actually somewhat enjoyable. I quite like the level where you have to shut up some noisy neighbours without killing any of them. While I can understand how annoying a belligerent neighbour can be, I can't help but feel shooting their television with a sniper rifle is the appropriate response. But hey, I just work here.

While the first half of Professional Sniper doesn't blow my mind, it does come across as a decent, efficient sniper game. But that's because the player doesn't have to deal with that tricky 0.4 second delay. Without warning, it pops its ugly head up and smacks us across the face with the chain mail glove of hopeless frustration.

Naturally, it begins with that staple of the sniper game, the moving car level. Finding the driver you're supposed to shoot isn't a problem. Actually nailing the son of a bitch, however, is - a really, really big problem. Trying to keep your sights on the driver as he speeds across the screen, trying for that one good shot (and you will only get one good shot) inevitably leaves you screaming in agony as you repeat the level over and over again, your hand slowly cramping while you grip your mouse. But that's nothing compared to the Chinese water torture that awaits anyone lucky enough to kill the driver.

In this level you've been hired by a film director who wants you to shoot a stuntman while he jumps between two buildings. Apparently the director really needs this to make his movie awesome and doesn't realise that you can recreate this stunt without having to shoot your stuntman in the face. You have to shoot the stuntman while he's jumping; nailing him during takeoff or just as he lands won't count.

Just two small problems:

1. Depending on where you place your sight, you won't see the stuntman take off.
2. The stuntman moves too fast for you to perfectly track him all the way, so you really don't have any choice but to pick a spot and hope for the best.

Sniper games are supposed to be a test of a player's skill and reflexes, but all this level tests is your luck. Keep in mind that you still need to keep your sights on the stuntman for half a second before firing, by which point he could have moved completely out of shot. I really can't tell you how many times I had to repeat this level before I finally managed to beat it once, and I think if I counted I would probably break down and cry. I've dealt with many a difficult level in a sniper game, but this really just takes the piss. For something that looks so simple, it's a huge pain in the ass to complete, and I wouldn't be surprised if most people gave up at this point. Hell I gave up the first time I played. And it's not like there's much incentive to beat it anyway, other than some stubborn desire to win.

All that's left is this final level where you have to kill all of your former clients, just in case any of them rat you out (classy.) This isn't that hard to beat once you've figured out what order to kill each figure, but you need to hit each one with a single shot or you'll fail the level. The slow rate of fire never gets more frustrating than right here, and you'll feel royally ripped off when all you get at the end is some bullshit congratulations on becoming a professional sniper. It's the final spit in the face after having your gonads pummelled for the better part of ten levels. With its combination of uninspired art, overly simplistic gameplay and unresponsive controls, Professional Sniper is decidedly amateurish in design.

1 comment:

  1. Sniper games or shooting games is one of the most popular internet games that people are playing now.

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