Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is the sequel to the original tactical-shooter, also developed by City Interactive. In this iteration, the developers have changed engines from Chrome Engine 4 – created by Techland – to Crytek‘s CryEngine 3. The game utilises realistic bullet physics and aspects such as heart-rate and wind direction that affect your sniping accuracy. Along with the single-player campaign, there’s also team deathmatch to take part in. The question here is, does a game asking you to effectively play the support role while A.I. teammates get close and dirty make for a fun time?…
The game’s story is broken up into three acts. Act 1 starts the player off as private security consultant Captain Cole Anderson in the Phillipines with CIA Special Agent Diaz. The two are part of a team working to intervene in a reported deal-in-progress over a bio-agent weapon of mass destruction (WMD) between a group of Russian mercenaries. While at a Russian radio post, the duo overhear radio chatter talking about the apparent capture of a PSC spy by said mercenaries. After rescuing the captive, the team begins to monitor the deal when Anderson recognises one dealer to be an old acquaintance named Merinov.
This is when the story picks up steam as the team is ambushed. Without giving away details/spoilers, it suffices to say that it’s a devastating attack. A flashback soon reminds Anderson of events in Sarajevo before the player is brought to Tibet to finally recover the WMD. The story has a very slow start, compounded by the plodding nature of the gameplay. But as I alluded to, the campaign does get better, although it is not very wide in scope and doesn’t last too long all tings considered (the gameplay makes it seem longer than it truly is). It’s standard fare war-situation story-telling; you’re not going to see or hear anything new for the genre.
There is more to Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 than the titular mechanics, although not too much more. Health kits can be picked up throughout certain locales and used with the quick press of ‘LB’ (left bumper). Paramount to your success, however, is stealth. Being stealthy should ensure you rarely have to use a health kit as you slink in the shadows and pick off your targets without much opposition. Pressing ‘B’ enables you to crouch, while holding it puts you in a prone position. Sometimes, however, I found that even though the line of sight should be broken by foliage and such (as instructed numerous time to hide within), enemies still see you.
To indicate your visibility to enemies in the vicinity, a red radial bar will fill around your compass/mini-map on the bottom left of the HUD. If you fail to stay concealed, they will open fire, at which point you can swap to a silenced pistol by pressing ‘Y’. Melee kills are also possible with the click of the right analog stick. When sneaking up on an unsuspecting enemy, you can execute a melee finisher in the same fashion. A brutal and silent kill animation plays, but oddly enough automatically brings the soon-to-be-victim to a standing position if they are seated or otherwise before the animation is initiated; a disappointing lack of effort in including sit-down execution animations.
Eventually, the player will gain access to throwing knives, adding another weapon to your arsenal without diversifying it; I could achieve the same result with my pistol. Your binoculars are assigned to the right button the d-pad, while your thermo and night-vision goggles (depending on the situation) are assigned to the left. There are certain situations where C4 and explosives come into play (especially in later levels). These are utilised in set-pieces as the game wears on, and is often included in the Spot-Shooting sections where you set up shop and cover your comrades from a vantage point. And the crux of the gameplay is in the sniping.
Wind direction is indicated at the top of the screen, as is your heart-rate at the bottom right. Wind needs to be factored into the projected end-point of the bullet, as does distance. The further away the target, the more the bullet will dip. A high heart-rate unsteadies your aim. Allow yourself the time to calm down and you’ll have better accuracy.Holding your breath by clicking in and holding the left analog stick will result in momentary focus, and less movement but will see your heart-rate rise exponentially. On Easy and Medium difficulty, a marker will appear on your cross-hair that calculates your bullet’s destination for you, in case you’re not very good at estimating that yourself considering the above-mentioned factors.
The multiplayer is as deep as Team Deathmatch on any of 6 maps and that’s it. I didn’t delve too much into it because there isn’t much to delve into. The majority of the game is spent tediously tiptoeing through a map and then methodically picking off bad guys from a stand-still. That’s essentially what sniping entails. And it’s unfortunately quite boring and unengaging. Highlights are…the highlights; the slow-mo Bullet Cam on particular shots (final kills, head-shots) and the double shots – where two enemies can be lined up to be killed like “two birds with one stone”, so to speak. I also appreciated the realism. But overall, the game is too monotonous, dull and basic.
Visuals & Audio
Although the game runs on the CryEngine 3, the visuals are not consistently detailed. From the Philippines to Tibet, the environments – as well as the character models – have a good graphical quality and that great lighting that we expect from the engine, but when you look closer at many textures you will see them to be of a lower-resolution. Every now and then a momentary graphical bug also rears its ugly head, more frequently at checkpoint loading points.
Music is very minimal in the game. Enemy chatter is frequent, as is the sound of your own heartbeat, which heightens and becomes more pronounced as you run or hold your breath. Speaking of which, every time the left analog stick is clicked in and held to hold your breath for a shot, this “focus-mode” audio loop plays that drowns out all outside noise. This loop keeps on playing even when you don’t hold the stick in, which can become annoying. Also, some of the voice acting is over-dramatic to say the least.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 was not made for me; I’m not patient enough to sit and wait for minutes on end and sneak around for 60% of a game. But then again, maybe no one should be made to do so. I understand that a sniper’s role may not be the most exhilarating, and it offers an alternative gameplay experience to those common front line shooters. However, if that translates to a lack of fun, then what’s the point? With that being said, the game has its moments – particularly the “double shot” opportunities and satisfaction of a long-distance kill enhanced by a slow-mo camera.But it’s not enough to offset the boredom and monotony experienced in-between.
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