It’s true – if there’s the option to snipe in a shooter, that’s usually my first choice when it comes to combat roles. In both Battlefield 3 and Bad Company 2, the sniper class was the first that I fully unlocked. In Source mod, Day of Defeat, you can fear for your life if I’m behind the scope of one of the limited sniper slots – even in World of Tanks, my favourite tank type to play is tank destroyer, which is effectively the sniper of the armoured warfare world.
You would think, then, that Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 would be my veritable kryptonite. It’s a game purely dedicated to the art of camping and pwning noobs, after all, and features an array of deadly long-arms, and situations purpose-built to make the most of them.
If you did think that, though, you’d be dead wrong. Ghost Warrior 2 is in fact the ghost of a good sniping experience.
I have the shot
The biggest problem – and there’s more than one – with Ghost Warrior 2 is that you very rarely get to enjoy the game and the opportunities it presents. Rather, as the eponymous death-dealing sniper, you’re more often than not lead by the nose through level after level, told what order to shoot targets in, and then pushed through another linear collection of caves/streets/grottos to your next roost.
Sure, the game endeavours to make sniping challenging, by modelling in bullet-drop and wind-speed, but on all but the hardest settings you’ll end up with an ideal aim-point presented to you anyway, and even on hard the wind-speed indicator in your scope (riiiight) is so accurate that you can use it as a stand-in reticule.
Frankly, sniping in Battlefield 3 is both more challenging and engaging. The combination of everything being called for you, canned death animations, and an AI – both friendly and enemy – that is barely worthy of the name make a bad situation even worse.
When moving between locations, you get a hint of more interesting shooting challenges, as you must avoid patrols or take out checkpoints, but the supposed highlights of each mission are when you ‘set up’ on a position to cover another unit of infiltrating spec-ops types. This is a great idea in
theory, as it presents one of the most dramatic conceits, that of the overwatching angel of death looking out for his comrades from a remote vantage point.
The effect is ruined, though, by the fact that once you set up, you’re effectively locked into the sights of your rifle, and thoroughly immobile. And, again, your targets are called for you.
There is a limited plot for all of this shooting and sneaking about, but it’s pretty much as typical of ‘big name shooters’ as you could expect. The dialogue is similarly wretched, as the game’s writers and voice actors struggle for verisimilitude, only to settle for gruff, single-note caricatures.
The one high-point in Ghost Warrior 2 is the graphics – it’s a very pretty game to look at, superficially, at least. Closer inspection reveals a drastic underuse of the CryEngine 3, with a lot of low-res textures and poorly built polygonal terrain models. Even worse, the assault rifle belonging to one of your early spotter partners is missing textures from around the barrel – if there’s one thing a shooter needs to get right, it’s the guns.
Thankfully, the four hour play time of the game means you’re not going to be putting up with the mediocrity for long, and the shallow multiplayer is by all means easy to forget.
The saddest thing, though, is that – like the last title – this rather cheap game will likely be a commercial success. Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is apparently what the masses want – it’s not the sniping game we need, but the sniping game we deserve.