Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 Review
Genre: First Person Shooter
Far better than its predecessor and a step in the right direction as far as technical shooting. Not perfect, but certainly good enough to not be immediately written off with such shooting chaff as Aliens: Colonial Marines.
Bad games sometimes do get a sequel, as is the case with Sniper: Ghost Warrior. But it is less common that the sequel will actually surpass its predecessor, and in this case become a decent game in its own right. Sniper 2 is not without its flaws, but it is a solid game and about as good as it gets for a sniper game with an emphasis more on the mechanics of shooting, as opposed to simply spraying and praying.
The critical path puts you in the shoes of an American sniper named Anderson, employed by a PMC and doing America’s dirty work in various places around the world. Each mission is preceded by a watery, poorly written and acted briefing in the vein of any Call of Duty or Medal of Honor, where military jargon and acronyms are thrown around liberally and little of meaning is shared with the player. The characters are vapid, with bored voice actors and uninspired writing behind them.The campaign’s storyline is easy to ignore and serves simply as a vehicle for the real gem, which is the sniper action. You will travel on foot, sometimes alone and sometimes with a spotter, armed with only your rifle, a silenced pistol, and a knife. You also carry some medkits, thermal/night vision goggles, and binoculars for spotting. Like other modern military shooters, you are on a very tightly scripted path, but unlike those shooters this is marginally more believable because as a sniper you have very little room for error.
Once in position on some godforsaken cliff or belltower overlooking the battlefield, you can start the real business of shooting. The game takes the technical aspects of sniping quite seriously, as evidenced by the detail put into the wind, drop distance, trigger pulls, and other variables often neglected in other shooters. Running too much before a shot or holding in too many breaths in rapid succession will elevate your heart rate and make subsequent shots more difficult until you’ve had some time to cool down. As I imagine is true for a real sniper, less is more when it comes to each shot. Hammer on the trigger as you’re accustomed to and your scope will wobble all over the screen. Squeeze it gently when you fire and be rewarded with only a slight raise from the recoil. You have a lung meter that depletes when you hold your breath before each shot, at which point time also dilates slightly. Each shot must also be prepared in terms of distance – shots at a distance greater than a few hundred meters will be affected by bullet drop and wind speed. Calculating the bullet’s actual trajectory requires you to hold crosshairs on the target for a few seconds, and of course you must then readjust. This can be harrowing (in a good way) when you’re rushed for time, such as assisting your mostly incompetent AI squadmates when they run haphazardly around the map beneath you, attracting attention and alternately getting themselves shot or captured. The sniping is implemented quite well – any bugs in gameplay here, even a little one, could be crushing to a game with little else to offer. Thankfully, I have yet to have a bullet go anywhere except exactly where I fired it. Moving targets must also be led by the shooter. The craft put into this gameplay has given me an even greater respect for real snipers, I might add, as I had no real inkling of the brutal amount of precision required for each shot, especially at extreme ranges, and without checkpoints no less.
Sniper 2 runs on CryEngine 3, Crytek’s proprietary engine used with success in the recent Crysis 3. So at the very least, the game looks great. Textures, physics, draw distance, everything visual is top notch. The one exception is the AI. During the “walks” in between the stationary sniping levels, enemies are on patrol and will respond to the faintest glimmer of suspicious activity. This can be aggravating when you’re discovered while lying prone in a patch of foliage that the HUD has assured you is safe to be in. Also, alerting enemies to your presence on the walks almost always forces a checkpoint restart. While this may be a design decision, as a discovered sniper isn’t particularly effective in close-range combat by nature, it makes it quite frustrating when there’s simply no place for you to run and hide when discovered. Even when you manage to break line of sight, the enemies seem to know where you are. Also, the extremely close prescription of the objectives on each level make it problematic to deviate at all, to the extent that sometimes there seems to be literally only one path you can take through the level. Even on the lower difficulty levels, each level must be executed perfectly, as firefights do not often play out in your favor.
While the singleplayer is an admirable attempt at sniping gameplay and certainly has its merits, the multiplayer is something of a joke. It should not be here, and indeed does not even seem to have been completely finished. As of the time of this writing, there are precisely 2 maps and 1 gametype (team deathmatch). This is sad, as team sniping has a lot of promise. The servers are not up to the task at all. Expect massive lag spikes and random drops from matches. Better to steer clear of the multiplayer completely.
Releasing at $40, the developers seem to have a more realistic perspective of their product than the publishers behind many mid-tier games. While the relatively short campaign and effective lack of multiplayer don’t quite justify even $40, I can recommend a purchase for hardcore sniping aficionados, or shooter fans who can find it at a discount. For everyone else, it is certainly worthy of a rental.
Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 was reviewed on Xbox 360.