Over the building, behind the door, in his left eye.
Snipers are the very models of poise and grace. Just look at all those cool,
stoic snipers in the movies, from Chow Yun-Fat to that one guy in Saving
Private Ryan. And now with Konami’s arcade game we get another sniper added
to this list – a Backstreet Boy.
You’re probably thinking, “What the”?” But seriously, check out how the game’s
Now look at this Backstreet Boy.
Mere coincidence? I think not. Freakier still is that I could recognize this
guy enough to catch this grievous snafu. It’s downright scary how pop boy bands
have infiltrated everything. Next year, you’ll be playing The N’Sync Adventure
Through Cosmic Space. Looking forward to the future?
Indeed, Silent Scope is the boy band of video games. It’s got a glossy
image and flash, but no depth. It started out as an arcade game, and almost
everything has been kept intact for the Playstation 2 translation. You play
a sniper assigned to take out terrorists. The president (whoever the hell he
may be) and his family have been kidnapped, and you must save him.
It’s too bad that the key arcade element didn’t make the translation. The
Silent Scope in the arcades used a truly ingenious control system. A
rifle mounted with a small monitor representing the scope was a fresh sight
for gaming eyes and drew crowds in like bears to honey. The large game screen
contains the view from a distance, and the scope has the magnified image. Part
gimmick, part clever, but it made an average game pretty nifty. Without the
gun, it’s just not the same.
Unless you and a million other gamers have 200 dollars to spill Samba
de Amigo style, I don’t think any hardware manufacturer in the world will
find it feasible to create a home version of that rifle. But Silent Scope
is still is a gun game. A gun game! And with a gun game, you would logically
use a gun.
Instead, you are forced to use a controller. Surprisingly, the control isn’t
half as bad as expected. The scope image is part of the main screen now. This
scope can be turned off in order to make faster movements with your aiming sights.
With the scope back on, you can use the analog to vary the speed at which you
move and the digital pad for precision movements. The control scheme works,
but it changes the whole nature of the game. Now it plays like the sniper mode
of a first-person shooter.
But this is still a gun game, and I want the feel of pointing and firing. They
could have easily kept the onscreen visuals for the scope and set aim control
with a Guncon-equivalent controller. The technology is all there. Like our Backstreet
friend, I want it thaaaaat way!
With a gun! Why can’t I have it that way?
The various scenarios fit with all perceived notions of what a real sniper
must go through. Your Backstreet Boy starts out on a high rise building. The
terrorists mill about down on the street and on top of other buildings. Eventually,
you move onwards to peering into hotel windows or taking out the enemy on the
road. And to finish it off, you end with some night-vision shooting in the forest
or by parachute. It’s just another day in the life of a pop star gone hitman.
Bosses in the game are well-crafted fighters. Early on, you will board a helicopter
and choose to take out one of three bosses. One of them even involves the assailant
running down a football field with the president’s daughter in tow. Football
players are dashing after the kidnapper, other snipers are aiming their guns
at you, and admist all the chaos, you must somehow shoot the bad guy (just think
about how much more chaos there’d be if it was a Cal/Stanford game!)
The Playstation 2 version looks exactly like the arcade version. The night
vision level looks especially good with laser sights and flash bombs. Supplementing
the graphics are the sound effects and music, which are your typical arcade
shooter fare. They fit with the game.
A real life sniper has a tough job, but Konami’s made it easy on gamers. Silent
Scope is just too easy and the experience is over too quick. What was briefly
fun will have to be played over and over, dwindling into boredom. And I’ll whine
once again about the lack of a gun. After you beat the main game, what then?
What about a mission where you come back to assassinate Saddam? I guess you’ll
just be forced to just push for that higher score.
Silent Scope really deserved some better treatment for its home console
incarnation. Gun usage would have made it a closer match to the arcades, and
more levels would have made me feel much better about it on Day 2. Even tweaks
to the already well constructed levels would have been great. It’s too bad Silent
Scope just doesn’t have that long lasting flavor to keep you satisfied.
Ain’t nothin’ but a heartache, ain’t nothing
but a mistake…