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Marine Sharpshooter 2: Jungle Warfare

Aryan Garg


Budget shooters confuse me. I understand there's a demographic of gamers with low-end machines, but the rickety production values don't ever stop there. In addition to the game looking decidedly dated, Marine Sharpshooter II also suffers from dated game mechanics while throwing in a couple additional hang-ups for good measure.

The premise isn't bad, since it offers access into a niche not covered in much depth by other games. You play a Marine sniper who's been tasked with rescuing president of Burundi, with civil war hanging on the line. Features include weather effects, day and night missions, air strikes, a stealth meter, and a few other goodies. Doesn't sound bad on paper.

But there are graphics problems beyond blurry textures and blocky objects. Water is a flat, transparent texture, which is unfortunate because you're going to be seeing and wading through a lot of it. And while the jungle sections feature an impressive amount of foliage, the bushes that line your path are bulletproof and impassable. It's handy for cover, until you realize that the reason you can't hit a guy standing 100 feet away is because your reticule is aiming into a leaf pixel right in front of you, making the shot impossible. So although it looks like you're fighting in a jungle, all those bushes and trees have the properties of concrete, making for frustrating shots when the enemy is weaving his way through them towards you.

But the AI isn't too challenging. In fact, it would be safe to say that the AI is a throwback to about 1995. There's guards not reacting when someone standing right next to them gets popped, lots of suicidal standing around in the middle of a firefight, little effort in finding cover, no use of grenades, and generally kamikaze behavior. It's more like Whack-a-Mole than anything else as you jog through the jungle, pausing briefly every once in a while to sight and cap someone. You'll be hit with the occasional ambush and tripwire, but there aren't really many set pieces to speak of. The game falls somewhere between Black Hawk Down: Team Sabre and Far Cry in pacing and feel, but there's almost nothing to give the player a sense of story momentum. You go through the motions for five to ten minutes until you get to an arbitrary crossing point, where the screen fades out and loads the next "mission," which is just more jogging and firing until you get to the next crossing point.

After a while, it becomes a monotonous exercise, as the enemies aren't very aggressive, don't aim well (one guy killed himself by firing an RPG into the tree right in front of him) and pretty much all look the same from one camp to the next. There's The Guy With the Pistol, The One With the AK-47, and the occasional sniper who's a pain in the butt to locate and is often firing at you from just over the rim of the concrete-like bushes and tree branches that populate the world.

You'll have a teammate who'll irregularly flag enemies on your compass with an X, get stuck inside trees and occasionally stop following you for no particular reason. He has his own stock of apparently underpowered rifle rounds and health packs and will occasionally request that you stop so he can heal himself, but he never does, even when he's low, and can you heal him with one of the numerous health packs littering the narrowly-defined jungle corridors lined with concrete bushes and carved by slopes that you really should be able to scale but are nevertheless too steep.

Since you're a sharpshooter and will be almost exclusively sighting from long range, the weapon loadout is also underwhelming. You have the rifle, a pistol, and a tactically useless survival knife. The pistol is handy for the rare times the enemy closes the distance, but not as much as you think, since you can't switch weapons while going through the agonizing motions of reloading the rifle. The pistol also sounds like a pop gun and the rifle doesn't really echo.

Then there's the control scheme, a horribly innovative design where you can't simply toggle the scope with the right mouse button and zoom in and out with the scroll wheel. Instead, you sight by scrolling the mouse wheel, cancel sighting by clicking the middle mouse wheel, and use right-clicking for secondary fire, which won't exist on any weapon for the bulk of the game. You can remap all of this, but you can't et up the standard scheme, since using your scope and not using your scope are two separate commands, instead of clicking once to use it and clicking it again to return to your normal view.