Keep This Game in Your Sight
Silent Scope was originally an arcade game that allowed players to use an actual sniper rifle as the controller. The gun was mounted on a stand that pointed at the screen and by looking through the gun, the player would see a magnified view of the land that was laid before him. Players must then scope in, find enemies and take them out as quickly as possible. The arcade version is the closest thing from being a real sniper. Many ports and sequels have been made spanning many systems but the most recent is a recreation on the Game Boy Advance. Despite a smaller screen and no gun peripheral, the GBA version is one of the best. The game flows smoothly with fast paced action and good play control.
The main mode of play is the Arcade Mode in which the player goes through the main story of the game. The player takes control of a professional sniper and must save the president and his family. The game’s simple story is masked by the solid game play. The player takes control of a crosshair that represents the scope of the rifle. The crosshair must be placed over an enemy in order to see and shoot him. Each button represents a different speed of the scope. The “B” and “L” buttons speed it up and “A” slows it down, while the “R” trigger shoots. If the player wishes to use a different button layout, more options are available in the options menu. Reloading is done automatically after the player runs out of bullets in his magazine. Instead of having two buttons to speed up the cursor, one of those buttons should have been used to reload at will. If the player has the option to reload whenever he wants, it allows for a greater amount of convenience, control, and strategy.
Players are rewarded more points as they snipe key areas on the enemy’s bodies. Headshots are worth the most and they serve as one hit kills for level bosses. At times, I found the hit detection to be slightly off. I think I will be nailing an enemy in the head, but the game registers it as an arm shot. This happened more often than I liked and is probably the biggest frustration in this game. This can be especially painful when fighting the final boss. During this fight, you only have one bullet and you have to hit the enemy in the head in order to beat the game. Since you are in a moving vehicle when you take the shot, the cursor is moving violently. More often then not, I think I gave the final boss a headshot, but it concludes as a miss resulting in game over.
At the end of the first level, the game branches off into three different paths. The player willingly chooses which path to take and each has a differently difficulty level, bringing more variation to the game. Each level is different than the last. Some take place in front of huge buildings where you must snipe hiding enemies in front of windows, or you must take a more stealth-like approach by attacking at night using a night vision rifle. The game gradually gets more difficult as it progresses and it will probably take you more than a few times through to actually complete the game. Pretty much each time you play the main game, after you either win or fail your mission, a new unlockable option will be added. These options include adding more time, adding more lives, or adding more continues which makes the game progressively easier to play.
I was surprised at the fact that the Arcade Mode was relatively short, but I soon unlocked a whole new mission after I completed this main game. This new mode, called the Advance Story, is much harder than the previous one. Besides shooting regular bullets, missiles will be launched. This proves to be very difficulty because the player must lead the shot in front of the moving target. The Advance Story will probably take you longer to complete than the original story mode.
If one grows tired of the Arcade Mode, the players can take aim at the Shooting Range. Here players participate in mini games and time trial modes. There are several levels to chose from and each level supports multiple game objectives. The modes include Normal Attack, Time Attack where speed is your best friend, Perfect Shot where one miss and you’re out, Pop’up Targets where you try to shoot as accurately as possible, and Quick Shot where you must pull the trigger quickly in order to hit the target. These modes can be played in different environments including outside a barn, to an indoor shooting gallery. Each environment is harder then the last. In each mode, the player will take aim at cut outs of good guys and bad guys. The bad guys hold guns and other weapons while the good guys are just looking innocent. If an innocent is shot, your final grade will be lowered tremendously. Hitting the proper target can prove difficult as there is only a slight difference between the innocents and enemies, which can be hard to tell on the GBA’s small screen.
The GBA version of Silent Scope contains a wonderful multiplayer game. Despite being simple in design, the game is fun to play with up to four players. The best part is, only one game pak is needed to enjoy this simple multiplayer game. In this mode of play, balloons of different color are set loose and float through the sky. Each player must then shoot these balloons before they float away. However, if a player shoots the same colored balloon in rapid succession, more points will be awarded. It is in the player’s best interest to shoot as many as the same colored balloons as possible to form a combination. In some cases, balloons will have a number written on them representing the amount of bonus points the player will receive if it is shot down. So if a balloon has a number “10” on it, be sure to target it as quickly as possible because it will be worth one thousand points and it will take you numerous single balloon shots to equal that amount. To add to the game play, if a player with control of the red balloons shoots a rare white balloon, the remaining balloons on screen will be changed to red allowing that player to have a chance to further his score quickly. Each player must have quick reflexes and use a little bit of strategy if he wants to win. This game supports a quality multiplayer experience even though only one game pak is needed.
The graphics and sound effects are nothing more than average. Each enemy character stands exactly as tall as he should. Obviously, enemies further in the distance appear smaller and must usually be shot with more precision. This is where slowing down of the cursor comes in handy. At times, the enemies blend in with the background a bit much, but then again, they are supposed to be camouflaged. It’s times like these where it is difficult to tell the where an enemy starts and the environment begins. Because of this, the game must be played with a good source of light. It works great on a GBA SP, but if you don’t have one, you will have to buy a light peripheral. The sound effects serve their purpose. You can hear the shot of your gun and the scream of enemies when you send a bullet through their bodies. However, if you try to shoot bullets rapidly, a voice orders you to “Calm Down!” This proves to be quite annoying. I understand that there must be a slight pause in between shots because you are using a sniper rifle, but I don’t need a narrator to repeatedly tell me that I’m rushing my shots. Further, if you miss multiple shots in a row, the same narrator reports that “You lost your touch.” This angers the player beyond belief because he is obviously having a difficult time. By missing several shots in a row, the player knows that he is sucking it up and he doesn’t need the game to tell him so.
Despite some hiccups in the hit detection, the annoying commentator, and no reload button, Silent Scope is a good game. The story mode seems short at first, but soon a whole new mission will be unlocked. The game has a great, full version of a multiplayer game with the use of one game pak. Take advantage of this multiplayer experience because there are not that many GBA games that support the quality that this game offers from one game pak. There are lots of unlockables to be found and there are tons of mini game like levels to be played in the shooting gallery. The GBA version of Silent Scope has enough game to keep you entertained for a quite a while. Besides, this is a one of a kind game for the Game Boy Advance.