I feel that first and foremost I need to point out that I love playing the stealth angle in games. Also, despite my poor aim, I love sneaking in slow and sniping foes off from a distance while I stay safely in the shadows. Keeping that in mind it would seem surprising that I didn’t really enjoy my time with Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 very much, but it’s true. Quite obviously I have the patience for a slow and steady assault but SGW2 was just too slow to be considered enjoyable.
In the arduous campaign you play as the sniper Cole. Your job is to assist assault teams in various missions as they try to take down all manner of baddies and terrorists. It’s not much of a plot honestly and over the course of the game you never really come to care about what loose storyline there is. Truthfully, you’re lucky if you can even follow it very well. If it wasn’t for the fact that your environments change from places like the tropics of the Philippines to the snow covered terrain of Nepal you would pretty much feel like you’re playing the same boring mission over and over. Through nearly all of the gameplay you are led along as a backup player. You have a spotter that tells you when to run, when to duck and he basically leads you along from target to target. It all feels very linear and low and behold, IT IS! You never really have a chance to stray from the path laid out in front of you and in this day and age it’s hard to have a successful title that restricts you so severely. I don’t like having my hand held too much and I felt that was all SGW2 offered. Honestly, it’s a missed opportunity by City Interactive that could have made the game just a bit more interesting to play through.
Sticking with the ‘hand holding’ theme you don’t even have to acquire your own targets most of the time as your handy spotter will find them and an icon will appear over their heads. There are a few solo sniping areas but again the lead up and execution still makes you feel like you’re being corralled down a narrow path. The only real challenge in the game is to pull off your shots and remain patient. Well that and painful lengths in between checkpoints. In fact, patience is a necessity as the waiting game is painful to deal with. One interesting gameplay mechanic is that you have to adjust for real-world complications such as wind, your breathing, distance etc. Only on the “Hard” difficulty does this really become an issue though as anything lower provides you with a little reticule that shows you where to aim. Finish all this up with shoddy and inconsistent AI and you’ve got yourself a grueling title to force your way through.
There is a tacked on multiplayer option but you can imagine how exciting what basically amounts to a sniping only multiplayer game can be. A pretty clear cut example of putting in a multiplayer just to say that it’s there. If you are considering picking this title up I can all but guarantee this is one portion of the game you’ll pass over.
When I fired up SGW2 for the first time I was pleasantly surprised to hear the “Achieved with CryEngine 3” female voice, but I quickly found out that even CryEngine 3 can be a letdown at times. This is no Crysis. Glitching and clipping is everywhere while textures are muddy or near non-existent. Animation is awkward as well. I watched my spotter glide over terrain as if his feet weren’t even touching the ground and my only thought was “why?” You have one of the best equipped engines available to work with and this is what’s considered an acceptable end result? Even netting your all-important headshot was completely lackluster as you get a horribly rendered splotch of red and then nothing. The graphical slip-ups are beyond obvious so how this got past quality assurance is beyond my understanding. Another missed opportunity by City Interactive as we are well aware of the capabilities of the CryEngine 3.
The sounds of firing off rounds, explosions, and movement through your various terrain are done well enough. They sound realistic and I found directionality was covered fairly well too. The chatter of your foes, in whatever language they may be speaking, is passable as well. Listening to some of your compatriots however can be a bit of a chore. You know when someone who isn’t used to public speaking has to stand up in front of a crowd and talk? They rush through too quickly with little emotion or proper emphasis. That’s what it felt like when I was listening to my spotter and various others in the game. Some of the voice work is ok, it’s not all bad, but as a whole I found myself either straining to follow them or straining to not just tune out and ignore it all.
Perhaps an extremely patient and diehard sniping fan might get some enjoyment out of this game but it’s doubtful. The sniping itself is done alright, but without a little more action or other elements to gameplay the average gamer will find themselves bored quite quickly. Sure you occasionally get to knife someone from behind but I hardly call that action. Taking into account that this is a niche market, as Sniper Elite is the only other title of this nature that comes to mind, I still find it hard to recommend this game to fans of the genre. Everywhere you turn you’re met with rushed design elements and visuals and are left feeling ripped off. I realize this is what’s considered a budget title at $39.99, but regardless of this fact I felt like one would not get much for their hard earned, and spent, dollars here. Give this one a pass unless you are the most addicted of scope junkies or if you enjoyed the first game.