I’m going to state this first and foremost before truly delving into this relatively short review, but Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is a far cry from the other sniper-focused game of the past year or so, Sniper Elite V2. While you will probably notice that my particular personal score for the two games only differs by a relatively small margin of 1.5 points, the two games couldn’t be farther apart in context- aside from sharing the same orientation, they are two completely different titles indeed. sure, they share some similar mechanics, as do all shooters and action-sniping titles, but that’s generally as far as things go I’d say. I was pleasantly surprised that Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 did at least manage to assuage some of the meticulous details and failures of the first game, but not at all surprised that it still did not fully live up to the hype it was getting, as I had feared it would. Sniper:Ghost Warrior 2 is a sniper game though, and a solid one at that, Game Informer review aside. I do believe it laid some shaky foundations with this sequel, and provides at least a small bit of success and enjoyment as well, as minimal as it may seem.
Becoming a sniper is a complicated, intelligent, and empowering experience in real-life, and therefore reserved only for the elite, and most skilled military tacticians of our day and age. Becoming a successful and excellent sniper is even more challenging. Luckily for us plain folk though, we have the opportunity to take the grisly and harrowing adrenaline ride of our lives in several different video games, and have had several opportunities in excellent shooters ranging from Call of Duty to Halo to Far Cry and back. It seems as if sniping missions have become a staple of fulfilling the FPS quota nowadays, and as innovative as some games are with them, they rarely deviate from their main objective and guided plot path. Bearing this in mind, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 plays out like one big sniper mission, involving the globetrotting of common FPS games such as Call of Duty and Battlefield, and injecting satisfying killshots, close-quarters sneak attacks, and some solid action setpieces in as well- basically for the heck of it. While a sniper oriented game in itself, Ghost Warrior 2 does not limit itself to staying in the shadows 100% of the time, although players are welcome to play the classic stealth approach for about 95% if they so choose, and if they have the patience and skill required in order to successfully do so.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2’s main fallacy and flaw is that it is too generically based upon modern shooters of this day and age, and too similar to the sniping missions of several highly successful games- namely Modern Warfare and Sniper Elite V2 in key moments and gimmicks. Obviously, yes, the game is mainly based upon it’s predecessor, Ghost Warrior, but several new upgrades make it much easier to get into than that particular game, and a lot closer to a Call of Duty approach to action as well. As to be expected with the majority of sniper games also, GW2 falls victim to the monotony of repetitive gameplay and similar mission structure as well, essentially boiling down to: “Get in”, “Get out”, “Snipe the bad guy”, and “Escape!” every time. A little innovation and creativity would have been welcome at least. Combine this with a pretty unoriginal rest of a single player campaign, some pretty muddy textures reminiscent of Colonial Marines’ awesome looks and in-reality poorly developed textures, and you’ve got a mediocre game at best anyway. Not much more can be said about it’s lack of originality and creativity than that.
Linear design is one thing, and I am alright with not always being offered the freedom of choice or a sandbox territory from time to time in my games, especially when I just want to enjoy a relatively mindless action-heavy romp through enemy territory on easy difficulties, but even GW2 should have injected some branching paths, or seemingly-so ones at the very least. Not only does our old buddy, old pal ‘Follow’ make many appearances, but your annoying buddies will be sure to let you know when to take the shot, when to find cover, when to go, when to leave, when to- the list goes on. If they want to tell you everything to do, and give you literally no choice in matters, why didn’t City Interactive simply churn out a CG movie instead? It would have been probably more successfully pulled off and enjoyable to watch than to play through the game with your hand held the entire way. Combine this with the equally annoying and laughable enemy AI, and you’ve got an experience completely devoid of difficulty and challenge- even on the so-called “more difficult” difficulties, where they simply do more damage rather than have more common sense. Gone is the intense stealth warfare of Sniper Elite, and in its place is something devoid of life, character, and mostly fun.
On the bright side, minimal as it may be, and with a few cracks of light shining through, the game does have two main factors going for it: the sniping mechanics themselves and surprisingly more inventive and creative setpiece moments spread throughout the campaign. As with most sniping games, as long as you can pull off the feeling of satisfaction that comes with turning some poor chap’s head into a fine pink mist, you’ll have a decently solid title going, since that is your main go-to mechanic. While the sniping itself may be cumbersome and “realistic” at times, what with its gauging wind and elevation, depth, etc.- the sight of a slow-mo headshot or nutshot never gets old, especially with the bumbling and idiotic enemies you will inevitably outwit and laugh at. Compared to Rebellion’s sniper title, the headshots may not be as satisfying, but they are still pretty competitive in that particular aspect in comparison. The setpieces also bring a little life and imagination to the table, and manage to make the otherwise stale campaign bearable, if also lengthening it a tad bit as well, to a rough estimate of 5 or 6 hours or so. From a genuinely intense chopper moment to a Sarejevan ambush, you’ll witness some interesting frag moments and more.
There is also a multiplayer component to the game, but it is nothing truly special, so most players will probably not spend too much time with it, and not with the game itself due to its many frustrations and flaws. The only really available game mode is deathmatch/team deathmatch, and boils down to who has mastered the unresponsive controls the quickest, and who is the luckiest when it comes to spawning and finding a relatively safe hiding spot. As multiplayer goes, the matches were some of the most boring and slowly paced ones I had ever experienced, and a far cry from intense shootouts in online powerhouses such as Call of Duty and Halo. Combined with the minimal map selection (two), a whole motherlode of glitches that exist solely in multiplayer and also their friends come over to play from the campaign, and painful weapon-switching and killshot issues- the multiplayer is quite a waste of time, and basically only worth honing your skills for the solo missions, if you are really that desperate and actually manage to connect to the servers and 17 players online.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is certainly a step up from its predecessor, but that hardly makes it a genuinely enjoyable or good shooting game at all. It was an interesting field trip to say the least, but I think I will be returning to Sniper Elite V2 shortly, at least to continue enjoying its stand alone Nazi Zombie content. If you think you can handle the frustration sure to result, make the purchase- but do yourself a favor and wait for a half priced deal, as this game is the equivalent of the movies that are shipped straight to DVD and don’t even graze the dollar theater mezzanines. The force is weak with this one.
Concept: Fail to craft a truly endearing and memorable sniper game that plays out as one big, long, continuous sniping missions with all of the right setpiece moments and few actual fun segments.
Graphics: The graphics looked decently gorgeous in all of the still photos of the game and in the majority of the trailers and cutscenes shown as well, but as soon as things get moving in the final format, the framerate drops off a chasm and most of the textures are uninspired and slightly behind the curve as well.
Sound: I hope you’re ready for some B-movie dialogue and lingo, because it’s coming regardless.
Playability: Despite frustrations with controls and mechanics, as well as many unoriginal and annoying moments throughout the vast majority of the campaign and multiplayer, sniping is relatively sound with a few drawbacks, and the setpiece moments are decent as well overall, if a little bit strained.
Entertainment: Sadly, Ghost Warrior 2 follows in the footsteps of Medal of Honor: Warfighter and flounders behind bigger names such as Sniper Elite, Call of Duty, and far cry, instead of making a good name for itself.
Replay Value: Moderately Low
Overall Score: 6.5