Considering that I believe the stealth missions of the Call of Duty Modern Warfare franchise are some of the best the games have to offer, I came to Sniper 2 with some high expectations that on the whole didn’t disappoint. However there are a few holes in both the story and the gameplay that brought it down a notch. Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 follows Captain Cole Anderson on three missions, varying from urban combat in Sarajevo, the tropical jungles in Burma and the mountains of Tibet. Applying realistic bullet physics, players need to factor in distance, wind and bullet drop when sniping targets, which is assisted by a red dot that calculates all these variables for you. If you want a proper challenge, put the game on maximum difficulty and you have to judge for yourself.
Beginning with the story, I don’t know whether or not this is a result of being handicapped by not playing the first instalment, but I found it difficult to find myself connected with any of the characters, which in relation to the story festers as a hindrance on the games potential. When certain people die you don’t feel anything for them when it’s supposed to be an emotional climax of the mission. Similarly, it’s simple and can be rather predictive, featuring moments that look designed to shock you, when in fact you’ve seen it coming long before it actually happens. In a nutshell and without giving away any spoilers, the campaign feels like a merge between Call of Duty and Battlefield and fans of both franchises will see traits and sequences that seem to transfer into Sniper 2.
There is a fair bit of variety in terms of the mission gameplay. You are fundamentally a sniper throughout the entire game and are pretty much stuck with the same weapon load out, with different models being equipped by each Act. But to be fair I couldn’t see them doing it any other way. The whole concept of Sniper 2 is that you attain a consistency in your ability to remain undetected throughout the mission, examining patrol patterns, biding your time, waiting for one guard to turn his back so you can take out the second with a silenced rifle. If the mechanics of the game allowed you to pick up assault rifles or shotguns, the game would lose its iconic trait. Having said that, a little more variety in the weaponry, even it was just models and attachments (of which there are none) would have been nice. You’re not even able to use a, clearly visible, bipod when you’re in prone or near a wall to steady your shot, something that I thought would have been definitely included after its use in Battlefield 3.
It terms of the actual gameplay, it switches between two versions. The first is the hold-your-hand style of missions, which essentially has you paired up with a spotter who will pick out and identify which targets you need to take out. For the introductory mission, I could see where the benefit was, leading the player through a brief tutorial before they are let free to experiment with their own devices, but there are, in my opinion, too many to make you feel that you have accomplished something; rather you’ve been told what to do and you’ve done it. On the flip side, your spotter tends to be one of the few main characters in the loose narrative that threads everything together. They don’t add any more layers to the story, but it’s nice to have a buddy once in a while rather than playing through an entire sequence with as little dialogue as possible.
The second is a do-it-yourself style that, basically, is a lot more fun. Rather than being told who to kill, you are given the objective of ‘clearing an area’ and are left to your own devices to do so. 9/10 times you’ll end up just bunkering down at a high position, picking them off one by one and occasionally achieving a double kill with a single shot, but there is still the option of sneaking in closer and either using your knife or a silenced pistol or in some circumstances, if you leave them, eventually they will move passed and you can proceed to your next objective. The other variation to the gameplay is when you reach a point where you bunker down and pull out your 50.cal sniper and provide cover for an assault team who attempt to sneak through a specific area. These missions crop up a few times so enjoy them while you can and whereas this is another hold-your-hand type of mission; the power of the 50.cal is too brilliant to be disappointed with.
On a final note about the gameplay, there is a mechanic which should be used in all games of the genre. At random points in the game, the shot that you fire will seamlessly switch to bullet-cam, which essentially follows your bullet, in slow motion, until it hits its target. It’s a neat little additional to the gameplay that is great to watch no matter how many times you get it. I don’t know whether there is a trick to achieving these slow-mo kills, but you’ll find yourself going for headshots in the hope of getting it, despite the fact that enemies will usually fall over head wherever you hit them.
Finally onto the presentation of the game, the CryENGINE 3 engine (which I haven’t experienced in Crysis 3 so I have little for comparison) creates a stunning, beautiful world in which you venture through. Specifically the jungle scenarios, from the trees, the bushes to the water effects, the CryENGINE 3 provides something that is at the top of its game, on a generation of console that is slowly dying. Though the visuals and graphics are not particularly spectacular throughout, these small blips are overshadowed by what the engine does right.
The first-person angle moves smoothly and, almost, seamlessly from action to action, from petty actions like reloading your ammo clip or falling through a rusted aeroplane cockpit into the murky water below. I like it when first-person shooters put effort into making every action from that perspective, an example being Call of Duty. Though there are cutscenes in which Anderson is shown in the flesh, rather than through his eyes, minor actions such as lowering yourself from a ledge or disabling a fuse box are all achieved through a first-person perspective, something that is generally skipped in other FPS. I’m thinking of Battlefield Bad Company. However saying that, if you lower your gaze you’ll find that you don’t have any feet, or a shadow for that matter, which are features that I always look for to see which rare titles will bother to include it. I’m looking at you Halo.
Overall, Sniper 2 Ghost Warrior is an average game that will probably last a couple of playthroughs. The game is pretty straight forward will little choice in how you want to play and the multiplayer doesn’t offer much else to keep your attention. Operating on a 6v6 player system, essentially all combatants are snipers, bunkered down in various positions between the two, dense buildings on either side of a plaza. The aim: find, locate and kill any player you come across. When you get a kill streak its quite impressive, but the 20 minute playtime feels dragged out and too long and you’ll find yourself wanting to get shot by the end, just to find out where the hell your opponent is. I wouldn’t advise buying the game. If you do, or already have, it’ll probably become one of those titles that you play and leave for a couple of months, and come back to it later on when it’s not fresh in your mind.
Gameplay Ratings: Rating:
It’s hard to deny that the game is not what it says it is. Sniper 2 is a great stealth, first-person shooters, that offers a little variety in gameplay features but lacks a gripping storyline
Graphics Rating: Rating:
The CryENGINE 3 does itself proud, delivering an outstanding set of environments on a dying generation of consoles. It’s not what the promotional screenshots make it out to be, but it delivers some of the best visuals seen this year
Sound Rating: Rating:
Not a lot to say about the actual sound. The game doesn’t have a signifying score but it terms of the sound of the rifles, everything sounds genuine and realistic
Replay Value Rating: Rating:
Without a gripping story and a more or less straight and narrow approach to the gameplay, this’ll probably be one of those games that ends up on the shelf for a month or two, to come back to when it’s not fresh in your mind.
Looks impressive, gameplay is impressive but the story is not. What more can I say?
Overall Rating: Rating:
You’ll enjoy the first playthrough of Sniper 2 if you’re a fan of stealth games that don’t involve going in guns blazing and killing waves of idiotic AI, but ultimately it’s a one-time experience, offering little in terms of consistent playing.
Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 is out now.
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This article was first posted on March 26, 2013