Baltoro Games have been pumping a healthy dose of indie games on the Nintendo Switch as of late, with great titles like Urban Flow and Paratopic leading the charge. But now they officially have an on-rails shooter under their belt in the form of SNIPER Hunter Scope.
There is a deal to get this game for free by December 19th if you have previously purchased Urban Flow or Paratopic, but is SNIPER Hunter Scope a nice, clean shot in the on-rails line up? Or will it suffer the same fate many games in this genre face? Well, let’s take out a few baddies and find out.
Since this is an on-rails shooter, the suggested playstyle is naturally using the Joy-Cons and gyro to give it a more arcade feel. Unfortunately, in my stubbornness, I decided to start my time with the game using the Pro Controller and no gyro, and I cannot warn against this enough: it is just does not work well.
It is worth noting how poorly the game controls using standard controls, because if you plan on playing this on-the-go like many Switch players do, SNIPER Hunter Scope is not a good game to play in mobile mode unless you can perch your Switch somewhere and enjoy the Joy-Cons and gyro instead. The standard controls are not terrible, but it does not present the game well enough for what it is supposed to be.
With that out of the way, this is not necessarily your normal on-rails shooter. Right from the get-go, there is no story or Story Mode, which is odd for a game like this. Classics like Time Crisis and House of the Dead bring their players through a gauntlet of stages and enemies while simultaneously telling a simple and entertaining story. SNIPER Hunter Scope does not take this approach, and it kind of suffers because of it.
Instead of a fluid series of stages in sequence, the game takes a more mobile approach where stages are unlocked based on total accumulated points. This can be very disruptive, because clearing a stage does not equate unlocking the next. It forces you to replay previous ones until you gain enough points to unlock the following, meaning you can unlock new stages without even “clearing” the previous.
And this is kind of the problem with SNIPER Hunter Scope. A lot of the game feels like it is locked behind walls and not in a fun way. Like stages, weapons are not obtained in a normal on-rails way, but rather a mobile one. You earn money from playing and achievements, and then you can spend the money on upgraded gun types and models of characters and in-game equipment.
Basically, the game is not very big and does not offer a whole lot, and it slows things down so much that it takes ages to unlock what little is there. On-rails shooters are supposed to be a fun and fast arcade experience, and yet most of this game feels like it is locked behind a weird pay wall (Although there are no in-game purchases for points or in-game money. There is DLC already, which does feel a bit odd, though.).
The stages themselves and the gameplay are good fun. There are 16 stages to unlock and enjoy, and there are two more stages that can be obtained via a DLC purchase. Each area is unique and provides solid variety, but it is a shame they could not connect these stages together in a more meaningful and fluid way.
There are three types of gameplay within the stages as well: posting in a sniping position and shooting targets from a single perch (Sniper); moving and taking cover while taking out enemies (TPP); and another style that feels like a blend of the first two (FPP). Each style brings their own blend to the table, but I honestly did not feel like things changed so drastically from one type to the other. The goal is still to quickly take down the assailants as they show up on screen.
The shooting does feel good, and whether you decide on using standard controls or gyro, aiming and shooting is quick and fairly simple. Even someone who is not well acquainted with the genre can easily pick up the controls here and start popping headshots like a super-sniper in no time.
And for whatever reason, SNIPER Hunter Scope is single player only. It makes sense if you play the game, particularly because of the TPP and FPP gameplay styles, but these types of on-rails shooters thrive in a co-op situation. You would think for the price you are paying, you would be getting more variety in regards to gameplay, but sadly it is quite simple and limited.
SNIPER Hunter Scope is not necessarily a bad game, but it makes a lot of bad choices. The lack of multiplayer may turn a lot of people off, but I think the biggest problems lie within how things unlock and the speed at which they unlock. Behind the pay walls is a solid and fun on-rails shooter, it is just disappointing that the game deviates away from what makes games like Time Crisis so great. Some times a formula just works, and it is okay to borrow ideas from the classics. SNIPER Hunter Scope could have benefited from this greatly, but sadly we just have an on-rails shooter that is lacking.
Good control variety and gyro usage
Decent amount of stages
No story/Story Mode
Everything needs to be unlocked
Feels like a mobile game (Not in a good way)
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.