Sniper: Art of Victory

  • Publisher: City Interactive
  • Developer: City Interactive
  • Genre: First-Person Shooter

Sniper has been produced using the same engine as Code of Honor, or it certainly seems that way. In all fairness, the World War II environments do look a bit more polished, but the telltale signs such as dead soldiers frozen in mid-air are here. Not to mention troops that stand around dumbstruck when under fire.

The difference with Sniper is that you're supposed to be picking people off from long range, so often your victims should be standing still as you bull's-eye them in the forehead (a fortunate coincidence indeed). It is possible to pick up and use a sub-machinegun, but close quarters combat is definitely discouraged as these guns come with a mere handful of ammo. And the Germans tend to tear you to shreds before you can blink at short range.

The central sniping mechanic works fairly well. The rifle's telescopic sight undulates slightly with your breathing, although with the press of a key you can hold your breath for a second or two, so it's all about lining up and timing the shot. The wind gauge is also a factor that needs to be taken into account, so if a gust picks up as you're about to loose, swift compensation is necessary.

You'll spend most of the game hidden and cowering in a variety of not very exotic locations.

On veteran difficulty this is a matter of guesswork, but on the recruit level the game kindly displays a moving dot showing where your true aim actually lies. This feels a bit cheesy, although it did help to confirm my suspicions that clipping errors play a part in missed shots. When firing with a clearly lined up perfect bead on an enemy the bullet sometimes passed straight through them without hitting. Of course, on the harder difficulty you'll never know for sure whether it was the wind or a programming error, which is a tad annoying.

As with Code of Honor, the levels consist of boxed-in mazes with one linear route through them. Even though you're wandering through the ruins of a war-torn city with gunfire and explosions erupting in the background, the place seems empty, with only a few enemy snipers scattered about, and perhaps a couple of friendly troops stood still like exhibits from Madame Tussauds.

While Sniper: Art of Victory is superior to its brother in arms, and the sniping mechanic itself is reasonably well implemented, there are still too many flaws here to recommend it.


Beauty Factory

  • Publisher: City Interactive
  • Developer: City Interactive
  • Genre: Management Sim

Ever dreamed of making your very own perfume or lipstick? Me neither, but at least Beauty Factory's premise is original. I don't know of any other cosmetics-based management game (though having typed that there's bound to be one out there somewhere). Unfortunately, a beauty of a game it isn't. In fact if beauty is in the eye of the beer holder, as the old joke goes, this game would be a ten-plus pinter with a double-bag safety net.

For starters it's far too simple. I finished the main career on my first attempt, taking just over an hour to do so. Okay, so it's obviously aimed at the younger end of the teenage girl market and isn't supposed to be particularly challenging, but still. There really is nothing to it, and even the target audience is going to end up bored stupid.

Science. It's all about muppets playing with beakers.

Running your factory takes just a few largely brainless clicks per turn. All you've got to do is make sure that you're producing enough stock to keep up with demand, and hit a marketing campaign button every now and then. The other side of the game is the design of the beauty products themselves, a process that's identical whether you're working on a perfume, mascara or eyeliner.

This involves three categories (for perfume it's flower, tree and fruit smells) that have to be mixed in the correct proportion. You're told roughly what two of the levels should be, but have to guess the third, and fine-tune the mixture using trial-and-error guesswork. When you've got a good mix, it sells well, although it's dead easy to get a good mix so the whole thing's fairly irrelevant. The really irritating bit is that every five turns or so you have to do this again, as trends change quickly in the fashion world. Hurrah for fickleness!

On the two-hundredth time of mixing a perfume/lipstick/whatever every minute or so (as the turns pass pretty swiftly, what with there being nothing much else to do), Beauty Factory becomes an experience akin to putting your brain through a meat grinder. Granted, there are some extra scenarios which are actually more challenging than the campaign, but that doesn't alter the fact that doing the dishes is a more enticing prospect than spending time with this game in any way, shape or form.

My wife insisted on having a play as she was intrigued by the idea, although after five short minutes she declared, "What the hell's the point of this?" and went back to playing The Sims 2. Which just about sums it all up, really.


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