We are all used to it now, whenever playing a FPS (first person shooter) online there is always an overabundance of snipers, with far too many players skulking around the corners of the map, sitting for hours waiting for that one kill. We all hate it, yet secretly we all want to try it as there is nothing more fulfilling than a head shot from the other side of the map, well City Interactive have taken note of that, giving us yet another game based on the sneaky buggers.
The world of the sniper was perfectly explained in the classic Tom Berenger's Sniper, you sneak around, you find a spot and you sit and wait, and wait and wait for that one vital shot; that would however translate badly into a computer game so thankfully that's not what we have going on here with Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 granting us plenty of sniper moments interspersed with lots of sneaking and a few full-on fire fights.
Usually at this point I would mention about the general plot of the story however it's all just filler, justifying you killing hundreds of people as it pushes you along to the main events with moments where it's down to just you and that one bullet; starting the game with the classic follow the leader style training in the jungle, being taught the basics of infiltration and evasion before letting you go on your own way, taking you through coastal forests, mountains and war torn Sarajevo.
Spread over three acts the gameplay is split into two main areas, a sniper in a high hide, fixed position scenario and a more classic first person shooter set up. With the high hide levels you are given a fixed position with scenarios playing out on the ground below with troops on the ground requesting assistance to you offering covering fire to an escaping hostage. It's not just point and shoot like many other shooters, there is a lot of planning required before you take the killer shot like taking into consideration your breathing, wind speed and direction, distance and also the reaction of the enemy guards and the recoil from your shot. Rather than leaving it to guess work there are a few helpful tools to guide you for the perfect shot like a wind gauge and measure of distance on the top of your scope, a pressure sensitive trigger that allows for the slightest of touches to fire your rifle, reducing recoil, plus for the beginners there is a very handy red dot that will show you where your bullet will actually impact. With the harder settings these stabilisers have been taken away, leaving it down to you to gauge shots and also keep an ear out on whatever your spotter mumbles, as one false move or a premature kill can cost dearly.
The other side of the action is more akin to a classic FPS, with your character running through swamps and concrete debris trying to stay out of sight and progress throughout the level, either killing or using stealth to avoid detection. Again there are a few tricks available to help your progress like a rather handy infra-red/night vision view and a knife for those silent kills. Though most of the time you feel alone, you will actually have a spotter to assist you either on the ground or back at HQ, both offering very different information. When on the floor your spotter will be calling out what they see and instruct accordingly, with you taking out other snipers, thinning out patrolling guards and laying covering fire. HQ on the other hand are able to use satellite technology to highlight all enemy threats on your heads up display. If you have the skills you will be able to avoid most direct conflicts but when it does inevitably go FUBAR and the enemy is alerted to your presence they will all start to search the area, hunting you down, with either your swift gun skills or finding a decent hiding place your only real option as once they spot you, you very rarely survive their barrage of automatic weapons.
Of the three difficulty settings available the hardest setting is the most satisfying but even then you have to contend with some really iffy AI, sometimes reacting to a leaf falling in the forest, other times walking right over the dead body of a fellow guard. Whilst on the bad points I may as well get through them here, starting with the use of CryEngine 3, a development engine that made Crysis 3 look fantastic, but not here, with the game looking rather dated when comparing the two. Each of the three acts take you through various environments, with running and stalking through the jungles, mountains and derelict cites enjoyable but it's all far too scripted, enemies appearing around a corner, boats appearing in the swamplands, you can set your watch to it. More frustratingly is that it is also far too linear, a forced corridor of debris and branches moving you to the next set piece, only very occasionally allowing you to use a large areas to sneak around obstacles and decide on yourself the best action.
Though a little short and having lots of issues to mark it down, single player is still an enjoyable experience and if that was all you got it would be reasonable title. Sadly the inclusion of a multiplayer mode ruins any happy thoughts towards the game. I say mode as a singular as that's all you get in what is a shocking display of online functions with a Team Deathmatch that is set across a miserly two maps, Sarajevo Downtown and Resort. With the idea to grant 12 players the ability to battle it out, sniper vs. sniper the reality is that it suffers from regular disconnects, meaning games are whittled down to eight players before you even start, then you have further disconnects mid game, if you are lucky there will be four of you to finish the 20 minute rounds, it's almost like the design team just gave up on the game. When it does work it's really what you would expect in an all snipers multiplayer mode, a deadly game of Where's Wally? Waiting patiently for movement of branches before firing off a round, giving away your own position and getting shot yourself. We often complain about lack of sniper modes in online games and this pretty much sums up why there aren't any.
For those who don't mind mediocre multiplayer modes and that are mostly thrilled by nailing a 1000m headshot, this is probably just about worth your time, as long as you play on the hardest setting, as anything lower and it holds your hand far too much. Words by Ash Buchanan.
(Version Tested: Xbox 360)Pros
- Get the chance to play as a sniper.
- Multiplayer is a shambles.
- AI needs a lot of work.