Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 is City Interactive’s second chance to prove that a modern day sniper shooting game can work as it releases Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 across consoles and PC platforms. Is the sequel an improvement over the original or more of the same. Take a look at our review.
Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 review text version.
We’re taking a closer look at City Interactive’s second outing for its Sniper Ghost Warrior series. The original was an interesting take on giving players the chance to settle into the role of an elite sniper, but issues such as dodgy AI and missions which degenerated into shootouts far from any sniping, made for a game which came under fire. Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 is City Interactive’s chance to re-address the balance and genuinely create a game for snipers. The question is, have they succeeded?
In a way they have, yet at the same time the mere act of creating a game based on sniping means it’s not going to be as fun as games which let players loose with the big guns, lots of regen health and a fat cigar. Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 is a slow, well scripted affair which sees player assume the role of a single operative this time who operates alone or with one spotter. What’s interesting is the attention to detail in terms of how missions play out really putting players into the role via the narrative. The story is largely inconsequential, but the majority of missions are tense and somewhat engaging. Whilst it’s perhaps rather easy to dismiss the game, for those interested in taking real shots then the game does provide some entertaining moments – albeit not something everyone will enjoy. The opening mission for example requires players to follow the lead of the spotter to the letter, where any deviations are likely to result in failure. However, playing by the rule book, the opening does offer a variety of cool sniping scenarios which are accentuated by the tension created by the covert nature of lying in the undergrowth wearing Ghille suits and picking off targets from afar. Sadly, the majority of missions are so scripted and linear that they pretty much play the same each time. That’s not to say if you’re good enough, you can’t fire off a few extra shots out of the script for some extra kills.
To really up the ante with the gameplay, the toughest setting allows for a more concise sniping experience where all visual aids are turned off. This provides the most realistic experience and means gamers have to account for wind speed and direction, bullet drop, and distance to target, making long range shots a real joy to pull off as one holds breath when taking the shot. On easier settings, most of the hard work is done for you as enemies are highlighted via the hud, and a red circle shows you where to place the cross-hair. In reality, playing this way really does turn the game into a boring and mindless experience.
What’s perhaps interesting and at the same a bit of a letdown is the AI, most of the time, players are required to stealth it, but when bullets miss their targets and the alarm is raised, enemies react in some strange ways such as either taking cover, or blindly running towards your location and gunning, or using the butt of their weapons to take you out. Once the poop hits the fan, the player character can whip out a pistol for close range combat, and if a spotter is with you then they can use an assault rifle – but have really poor aim so it’s not even worth the effort. If you’re good, you can simply use the pistol to drop incoming enemies as they round a corner for example, which just feels stupid and highlights poor AI programing. What would have been nice is some sort of flushing out with grenades, and more standoffs than simply going in for the kill unrealistically. That said, the pistol does pack a punch and can drop foes in one or two shots which makes a welcome change to the peashooters in other games. Players are also required to use medikits rather than rely on regen health which is a plus point these days.
Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 uses the Cryengine 3 which naturally looks pretty spectacular on occasion, even the Xbox version has its moments where there are lush and expansive environments, although some of the city based missions are a bit dull in comparison to sneaking around the jungles of East Asia. The game runs smoothly, and for the most part offers long draw distances and some finer details. On PC the texture details are a bit hit and miss and certainly aren’t as good looking as the recent Crysis 3 which uses the same game engine. What is rather jarring is the fact that the in game cinematics actually look worse than the gameplay which is more noticeable on the PC version.
Audio is actually of a reasonable standard, with some cool dialogue and banter throughout the game. There’s some realistic whispering when in stealth moments and some familiar voices make their presence known such as Claudia Besso who plays Grimsdottir from the Splinter Cell series. Music is kept low but is there to add a bit of aural filling to what could be considered quite an empty game in terms of sound. Aside from some ambient sound effects, there’s the sound of breathing which becomes the most prominent audio cue when scoping enemies.
Sniper Ghost Warrior 2’s single player campaign offers around 5 hours content, although this is playing on the default setting. Between missions players are given a stat breakdown which they can attempt to improve through subsequent replays. The achievements are also something cool to strive for and feel natural for the game. Upping the difficulty naturally will elongate the experience as players miss shots and get killed. The checkpoints can be quite spaced out which will either frustrate or be a cause of celebration for old school gamers. If all the scripted elements of the solo game become too much, then players can duke it out in the multiplayer, although finding suitable players is most likely more a challenge than anything. The best course of action is to draft a few friends in and set up matches that way to ensure teams are full.
Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 is very much a niche game for fans of being snipers. It’s certainly not going to be of interest to the call of duty twitch shooter crowd as its slow pace linear and unforgiving gameplay make it a little less welcoming. That said, if you’re prepared to ignore the default normal setting and get to learn the real nuances of lining up shots – playing on the hard setting is very much a different experience and one that will challenge the most die hard of sniping fanatics. In some ways, the game should have had hard mode as default, but then casual gamers will likely have found the experience a little too tough. Sniper Ghost warrior 2 in some ways harks back to old school gaming which makes it a pleasant surprise, yet at the same time in doing so is likely to alienate a lot of the potential audience. For those who simply want a run and gun experience, then avoid, for those looking for something different, up the difficulty and find a reasonably enjoyable game here, as long as you ignore the troublesome AI quirks and are not too fussed on story depth.
Sniper Ghost Warrior could be better and is for die hard fans only.
Score 7/10 – Review by Robert Cram