CTU: Marine Sharpshooter (Windows)

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Written by  :  Kasey Chang (4622)
Written on  :  Jun 12, 2004
Rating  :  3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars

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Alternative realistic shooter tries to be different, but falls short in several ways

The Good

Sniper targeting lets you deal death from a far, something rarely covered in realistic fashion (Quake and UT do NOT count), fairly decent voice acting, nice gritty environment, enemies that behave rather realistically, AI buddy that actually helps you instead of just gets in your way, decent plot

The Bad

Environment is fixed and not destructible, enemy has vision too good to be true (it's pitch black, I have night vis he doesn't and he sees me the second I tiptoe around the corner!), my AI buddy has vision too good to be true (he spotted enemies on top of a hill with NO direct line of sight, as well as behind trees while on the move!), mission objectives are not labeled on a map esp. things like extraction zone and such despite the manual's claim that you have a GPS.. Finally, you ended up doing all the work despite all the "help" during the mission.

The Bottom Line

CTU: Marine Sharpshooter is a first-person shooter with emphasis on sniper action. Basically, you need to take out enemies with your sniper rifle, then advance to various objectives until the mission is finished.

For example, in the first mission, you start in a remote Afghanistan village. You need to engage night-vision mode in order to engage the patrolling guards in the distance. You need to lay prone to get maximum accuracy from your rifle, or at least crouch, but you COULD shoot standing up in a pinch. If you need to move into tight spaces, pull out your pistol and tell your spotter to fire at will... And he will try to protect you, often ignoring his own safety.

The different rifles do feel different, but the differences aren't THAT pronounced. The game essentially simulates a flat trajectory (no bullet drop) as the actual distance shooting isn't THAT far. The 50-cal Barrett rifle is just a bit bulkier than the AW, and have different magazine capacities.

The graphics are decent, with the night-vision nicely done, complete with flickering pixels and greenish tint over everything. However, the Lithtech engine has some limitations where it allowed some odd clipping (enemy's arms and legs are visible THROUGH the walls or doors, etc.) bugs to occur. And enemies can interpenetrate or fall into walls/rocks/etc. Otherwise, the game is basically solid. Caves look like caves, and buildings look like buildings. it's just the trees that Lithtech engine have trouble with.

There is quite a bit of tension as you try sneaking in the dark, engaging enemies from a far, moving slowly to make sure you don't get surprised by an enemy nearby. Use pistol and/or knife on enemies that are REALLY close, and set your buddy in the right "mode" to help you instead of hinder you.

The enemies are pretty smart. They will rush you when appropriate, patrol when they haven't seen you, do side rolls to dodge your shots, and snipe you from afar. However, you can often surprise them by coming up behind them, shoot them before they react, etc. Surprise is usually on your side. What's even more surprising is how often enemies came up behind you from the alternate passages you did not explore. Well, that's why your buddy has that M-16 assault rifle...

For all the authenticity claimed, there's quite a bit of weirdness. It's pitchblack yet the enemy, with NO night-vis equipment, was able to spot me hundreds of yards away. And my spotter buddy can do the same (or better) at night with no night-vis, through foliage, and so on. The ONLY way to sneak up on enemy is to come up behind them or below, and that's not always possible.

The missions are unrealistic as you end up making almost ALL the kills, and the people you're supposed to protect almost none. You call that "special forces"? More like keystone cops. And that applies to both American and Russian special forces you get to "protect" in the missions.

The enemy also NEVER uses radio. They don't raise alarms when their buddy falls over (though they DO investigate). When they die, they usually die with curses on their lips (though half of that is in English?) Strangely, the bodies disappear after about 30 seconds, leaving a pool of blood on the floor and some splotches on walls. At least the death poses are varied, from "shot in leg" to "spun around" to "collapse forward face-first".

All in all, CTU:MS is a novel variation on the first-person shooter genre, though it suffers from "give player all the drudge work and call it fun" symptom, as the mission gets quite repetitious. The lack of a map is almost inexcusable. It is an nice effort marred by some design oddities.