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Desert Sniper

For: Mobile

This one has some sand in its scope

Product: Desert Sniper | Developer: Rovio | Publisher: Rovio | Format: Mobile | Genre: Action, Shooter | Players: 1 | Format: J2ME | File size: 161KB | Reviewed on: V600i other handsets | Version: Europe
Desert Sniper Mobile, thumbnail 1
The life of a sniper is a lonely one. An expert marksman can't expect any of the back-slapping, high-fiving, hoo-raaing camaraderie that other squadies typically enjoy. It's all musty old clock towers and laying motionless for hours with nothing but the sound of your own voice reciting fire and brimstone passages from The Bible, at least if movies like Saving Private Ryan are to be believed.

Worse still is when you execute a perfect head shot from a mile away, the instinctive reaction to turn and exclaim 'Did you see that?' to an empty room must be a difficult one to suppress.

Essentially, then, it's an impressive (if slightly unpleasant) skill with little scope for heroic GI Joe-showboating.

Fortunately such concerns are turned on their head when it comes to the nameless protagonist of Desert Sniper. Although he carries a sniper rifle and uses it to kill people, the game could barely claim to belong to the 'sniper genre'. You see, Desert Sniper is a sniper game in name only and plays almost identically to any other isometric shooter, albeit a moderately adroit one.

Still, as is typical for a Rovio title,  this is a visually polished effort with great front-end presentation, while boasting a solid level of quality throughout.

The game is set against the sandy backdrop of an identikit Middle Eastern conflict. You take control of a sniper who you guide around each of the large levels with the thumbstick, dispatching bad guys and avoiding traps as you go.

Your primary weapon is, of course, the sniper rifle, which when selected automatically targets nearby enemies with a red reticule. You can then fire by hitting the '5' key. Your other weapon is a small side arm which, when drawn out of the holster, fires independently whenever a hostile is in range.

As a combat system for a mobile game, this works well enough but the lack of any need to aim robs it – and the game – of any subtlety. There are, however, some fun asides that help to punctuate the otherwise fairly bland run/shoot rhythm. For example, you can stealthily hide in cupboards and also lay explosive traps.

Both are simple but effective elements that tie in nicely to the idea of a lone warrior on the battlefield. Equally though, both would have benefited from being more integral to the game.

It's a similar story when it comes to enemy intelligent. The guards will set off alarms if they see you, but what little punishment this involves (an onslaught from two or three enemies) is short-lived and fairly easy to deal with. The only permanent rebuttal are some negative stats at the end of the level.

You can also level-up your attributes between missions using the cash you collect as you complete mission objectives. It's a process that involves little decision-making but does encourage exploration throughout the levels.

So, all-in-all, Desert Sniper isn't a bad title, it just doesn't do what it says on the tin. Using the sniper rifle feels almost the same as using the side arm and although you can shoot from afar, it's just as easy to shoot from the hip. Those looking for something to test their nerve, their trigger finger and their cunning would do better to take their thousand-yard stares elsewhere.
Desert Sniper
Reviewer photo
Fraser MacInnes | 1 May 2007
It isn't as interesting as you might expect from the title, but as a top-down run-and-gun game, Desert Sniper is perfectly competent
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