Tag: Jarhead Games

Let’s go to the target range with NRA Gun Club!


1024px-National_Rifle_Association.svgThe National Rifle Association, better known as the NRA. A wonderful organization based in the United States that helps gun manufacturers with guns and trying to advocate gun safety… while blaming things like Mortal Kombat and American Psycho (?!) for causing violent shootings instead of the guns themselves.

I don’t get super-political on this blog, but you can probably tell my absolute disgust for the NRA. Gun regulation is a big problem here in the United States, what with lots of gun homicides and mass shootings happening almost regularly. The NRA often use scapegoats to distract from the real issues about guns in this country. Lots of countries in the world have already figured out gun laws, and yet we sit here with them blaming everything but the product itself.

It doesn’t surprise me that they would be absolute hypocrites when they blame video games, yet made their own game. Well, rather, they gave endorsement for a video game.

Look at all those gradients!

This is NRA Gun Club. A first-person shooter published by Crave and developed by our good friends at Jarhead Games. I’ve covered Jarhead’s stuff in the past, with such thrilling hits as CTU Marine Sharpshooter, which I wrote about here, as well as Navy SEALs: Weapons of Mass Destruction. As far as I know, this game would be their swan song, not living long enough to make it to the 360 generation. This would also be the sole game they made on the PlayStation 2, and it shows.

This game runs on the Gamebryo engine. Gamebryo must be proud to know the same engine that powered Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion also ran this wonderful game.

Or at least his first name, this game has a six character name limit.

After being introduced to the bland title screen, I am asked to make a profile name. Since this is based on the NRA, I’d thought it’d be nice to name my profile after Wayne LaPierre, the NRA executive vice president and mirror-universe Stephen King. He’s probably the most notable personality of the organization next to like, Charlton Heston.

The only mode with any sort of progression is Certification Mode. Here, there are four courses, each one unlocked after completing the previous one, with certain requirements needed to pass. There’s Plinking, Bullseye, Trap/Skeet and “Practical Shooting.” I’ll describe each one the best that I can.

This is probably one of the few games that you could genuinely say “looks like a PS1 game.”

The “Plinking” challenge involves rapid-fire scoring for points. Choose a weapon, shoot at targets, score points, repeat until time runs out. Most of the targets award 5 points, but some target like the cans award 10. Each of these are done in “Strings,” where the range is reset each time, with the final score averaged out of the best runs. If the average meets the minimum required score, it’s considered a passing grade.

The challenges are split between pistols, long range rifles and shotguns. Once you qualify in each challenge, it ends with a “Multi” course that combines all three weapons. Successfully pass that, and the Plinking challenge is complete.

Marine Sharpshooter: One Budget FPS, One Mediocre Game.

I’m convinced no one wants to be the sniper in a video game. Yeah, there’s parts where they show that being a sniper is cool, but most of it involves walking around silently and shooting people at a distance with a bolt-action rifle. The only time I’ve ever really seen it work is something like Call of Duty 4‘s “All Ghillied Up” mission, and even that’s more of a stealth level than a sniping level.

I’ve played several games where sniping is the primary focus, such as Sniper Elite V2 or Sniper: Ghost Warrior, and most of the time it ends up being a fairly basic shooter with needlessly elaborate sniping mechanics. I don’t know why people keep making games based on this exactly, but much like they kept making sequels to the Sniper movies, there must be an audience for this stuff.

Today, I’m gonna look at one of those sniping games, and this time, it’s a bargain bin shooter, which tells me we’re in for some old-fashioned budget jank.

Not endorsed by Jack Bauer

Marine Sharpshooter is a budget FPS where sniping is the base mechanic. Despite having the “CTU” logo on top, you don’t play as Jack Bauer from the hit series 24, but instead a generic soldier dropped into certain exotic locales where you assassinate enemies, usually with sniper rifles.

The developer of this game was Jarhead Games, a master of making budget military FPSes, such as Navy SEALs: Weapons of Mass Destruction and Army Ranger: Mogadishu. The only other notable thing they made was NRA Gun Club, a target range game which is incredibly ironic considering the NRA was lambasting video games as an excuse for a mass shooter. I’ve played only one of Jarhead’s games before — the aforementioned Navy SEALs — and it wasn’t that interesting, so I don’t have high hopes for this one.

Wonder if I can get that skin for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive?

The game starts with a dramatic cutscene and our two heroes: A generic sniper and his spotter buddy, with an M4 assault rifle. They don’t give them names to start, so I’m gonna call them “John McSniperdude” and his teammate “David Spotterguy.” You play strictly as McSniperdude in this case, with Spotterguy being your wingman and occasional distraction.

What a good way to start your game, with a big load of nothing.

After a thrilling introduction where McSniperdude and Spotterguy arrive to Afghanistan by boat, our game begins. Compared to other Sniping-themed games I’ve palyed, sniping in this game is a bit unusual control-wise: You use the mouse wheel to zoom in and out of your scope. It takes a little getting used to, especially since I’m used to many other games allowing you to scope in with the right mouse button. I guess in the days before Call of Duty‘s ironsight modes got popular, this is an okay solution, but also probably difficult if your mouse doesn’t have a mouse wheel.

As you play, Spotterguy will tell you that there’s enemies in a certain direction, also highlighted on your radar above. In some cases, this is what you need to be able to even see enemies without getting shot a bunch. Since he’s your teammate, you have the ability to tell him to either attack only when shot upon, or just to attack anyone he sees. At some point, I just told my spotter to fire at will so I didn’t have to switch between weapons or no-scope enemies that surprise you at close range.

Our spotter is the master of blocking.

You can also have the spotter either hold a position or follow you around. I often played through the game having him follow me, but this lead to problems where he’d sometimes block a doorway, making it impossible for me to progress. Since he’s also your buddy, you have to protect him as well as complete your objective. If he dies, then McSniperdude commits suicide to mourn the loss of his buddy. At least that’s what it looked like, any time I failed the mission, my character just dies.