When City Interactive announced Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2, I couldn’t help but remember that the original game received mediocre reviews at best. When I learned that the sequel would feature the CryEngine 3, I became interested in what City could do with the Sniper concept. The lush visuals that Crytek has shown us in their own games seem like a perfect match for the sniper genre, so we took a look at Ghost Warrior 2 when it came out earlier this week.
We focussed on the single player campaign, which (of course) centers around terrorist threats and exotic locales. Making great use of the possiblities of the game engine, you find yourself exploring war-torn Yugoslavia, the jungles of Burma and the mountain regions of Tibet. It’s these changes of venue that keep the experience diverse as you power through a fairly basic storyline which livens up a gameplay experience focussed almost exclusively on sniping and sneaking.
The main gripe that a lot of gamers had with the original game revolved around its insane level of difficulty and a poor implementation of AI. Playing through Ghost Warrior 2’s (somewhat short) campaign, it looks like the developers took this criticism to heart. On its lower difficulty settings, the game is extremely accessible, though perhaps a little unbalanced. With any sniper game, one of the key elements is suspense, and the resulting payoff when you successfully execute your kills. Ghost Warrior 2’s way of achieving this is somewhat of a hit-and-miss scenario (no pun intended).
You’ll find that certain situations in the game will give you an enormous sense of accomplishement, further strengthened by a plot and some voice acting that would fit extremely well in your typical straight-to-video action movie. The very next scene, however, might leave you feeling like your objectives were all too easy to accomplish. I would imagine that it’s a tremendous design challenge to get the sniper feeling just right, and it’s a shame that City Interactive’s game can’t manage a consistently high level here.
This translates to the game’s higher difficulty levels, where the training wheels are taken off and you get a more authentic sniper experience. Your targets are no longer visually marked and you have to judge wind and drop factors without help, which definitely adds to the suspense. This also causes harder scenes in the campaign to become punishingly difficult, which (I assume) is a more accurate depiction of the challenge a real-life sniper faces as well. However, the illusion is sometimes ruined by odd AI choices. After a miss, opponents might seek shelter or rush towards you, but every so often they might just ignore your loud gunshot to give you a chance to try again. They may also go about their normal routines if you give them enough time, whereas I would expect normal human behavior to include them running for the hills and never being seen again until they catch up with you (or you with them).
All these issues aside, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is a competent sniper game. The environments look good, though lack the level of detail that a game like Crysis 3 offers. It features excellent sniping moments as well, and managed to improve over its predecessor in almost every regard. The campaign is on the short side, but the game has a budget pricing point to match. In the end, this is the videogame equivalent of an entertaining action movie that went straight to video. Its shortcomings are clear, but if you’re interested in the genre then there are much worse games out there.
CPU: Intel 3770K
Video: Asus GTX 660 Ti
Installed on: Kingston HyperX SSD drive
RAM: 8 GB DDR 3, Kingston HyperX Beast series