As generic as they come?
Sniper 2 Got Right
+ Good-looking visuals
+ Diverse environments
+ Clever enemy AI
Sniper 2 Got Wrong
– Generic and repetitive
– Forgettable and cliche campaign
– Multiplayer is completely unnecessary
Your experience with Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is going to entirely depend on the mindset you bring to the game. On one hand, it’s the generic military shooter with a cliché plot and deceptively-good graphics we’ve seen a hundred times this generation – but conversely, it isn’t trying to be the greatest shooter we’ve ever seen.
While the game possesses some surprisingly enjoyable stealth gameplay, ultimately it’s a bit of brainless fun and if that’s what you’re after then, by all means, go ahead and give it a shot. For all you elitists out there (and those who are looking for something fresh and new), it’s reinventing the wheel.
The five-or-so hour-long campaign will see you, by and large, repeating the same sequences over and over again. While it’s powered by Crytek’s CryEngine 3 and looks rather nice, it acts as somewhat of a smokescreen to attempt to camouflage the dull gameplay.
In theory, it all sounds great – you’ll begin the mission stealthily sneaking through enemy quarters (usually alone or with a fellow squad member) where you can choose to engage in an all-out gunfight (not a good option when you’re alone with a sniper in hand against sub-machine-gun-wielding enemies) or progress through without a trace.
There are also cool instances where you’ll set up on a vantage point, .50 cal in hand, in an attempt to cover your squad as they traverse through enemy territory. However, the effect of said events wanes quickly, slowly becoming a chore after having to complete them in nearly every mission.
In terms of gameplay, especially on lower levels, sniping is a breeze. The game can tend to hold your hand at times, marking a red dot on your screen (essentially acting as an aimbot of sorts) if you’re taking too long to adjust to the bullet physics (eg. how far away you are from the target/ how far above or below) to easily dispose of enemies with pinpoint accuracy.
If you’re looking for a real challenge, give the game a go on Expert difficulty – factoring in the various ballistics affecting each shot is a skill in itself, and adds another, much more intense dimension to the game.
The enemy AI is surprisingly one of the strong points of the game – make so much of a peep and your foes will come at you, guns blazing – but they’ll do so cleverly behind cover, forcing you to poke out and make yourself vulnerable, whilst also making a conceited effort to flank you.
On lower difficulty levels, you might face a slight a challenge if your enemies catch wind of your position, yet it’s nothing a bit of patience and your trusty pistol won’t fix. On Expert, though, it adds to the intensity and you’ll want to make sure you’re taking out your adversaries as quietly as possible – or you’re going to have a bad time (yes, that was a South Park reference).
The game’s contrasting environments are also worth a mention – whether you’re hunting through the rich jungles of the Philippines or the mountainous terrain of Tibet, developer City Interactive has done a commendable job of giving the player diverse new areas to explore – it’s a shame that the level design and gameplay doesn’t heed said diversity.
Features such as heart rate and bullet time, while gimmicky, do add slightly to the gameplay experience. If you’re sprinting for a prolonged period of time and attempt to stop and aim, watch your heart rate spike along with the scope which will fluctuate madly due to your rapid heartbeat.
This makes battles with fellow enemy snipers all the more enthralling (again, especially on Expert difficulty) as you’ll find yourself fearing for your life. Bullet time is essentially a glorified slow motion mechanic (usually occurring at the end of a wave of foes), and it’s always entertaining to watch a .50 cal bullet tear through the limbs of your opponents.
While the generic and repetitive nature of the game may be its greatest downfall, its checkpoint system is also inherently flawed. Many times throughout the campaign you’ll progress far through a level and be killed, only to respawn at a point where you were ten minutes prior. The checkpoints within the levels are far too spread out and ultimately it just becomes frustrating having to replay entire sections feels like it’s been made that way to pad out the game’s length.
Multiplayer, as you’d expect, feels extremely tacked-on and one can only wonder why City Interactive even bothered with such a mind-numbing online mode. The only game mode available to the player is Team Deathmatch, which can be played on either of a whopping two whole maps. The maps – “Sarajevo Downtown” and “Resort” – do capture a desolate, intense vibe quite well, however, the experience shortly becomes painful when you’ve spent the last five minutes running around aimlessly trying to find an enemy. Developers, honestly, if you’re going to have a crack at a multiplayer component, do right or don’t do it at all.
From a technical standpoint, the game is extremely good-looking and makes solid use of CryEngine 3’s power. However, I did notice occasional freezing and glitching during the course of the campaign – although that could be a problem caused by my dodgy old Xbox.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is a prime example of a developer attempting to cash in on the generic, gun-loving “Call of Duty” market, and if that’s what you’re into or you’re simply looking for a game to kill some time with, you’ll probably find some degree of enjoyment here. However, I can’t advise nor justify spending $60+ on it. I’ve played through countless indie titles on the XBLA and Steam that have lasted me far longer and cost me far less. It does have a few cool gimmicks, but come this time next year Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is a name you’ll struggle to recall.