It takes quite a lot to develop a first person shooter game based on the story of a sniper, and only a sniper…it takes a lot more to follow that game up with a sequel. Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 does just that. We dug out the camo face paint one more time and got stuck into our review to find out if it pulls it off…
So we have already established how cool snipers are in our Sniper Elite V2 review, but let’s face facts, once the blood from your first 500 metre takedown dries, a sniper’s job can get pretty monotonous. The biggest question on my mind going into SGW2 was; Can the developers keep me intrigued and captivated throughout? My thinking is a solid story would need to be on the cards to pull that off. Before we get into that though, let’s get into how it’s presented and how it plays.
Much to my surprise, SGW2 is built on Crytecs, CryEngine 3, the same engine that brought us Crysis 2 and 3. So naturally the game not only looks spectacular, but plays like a dream as well. The environments are rich with detail and stunning to look at – albeit not too varied. Although SGW2 is a linear game, the levels are constructed flawlessly, as a player I was never left wondering where to go, or what to do next. The inclusion of a spotter on some missions was a great way to fully immerse me as player into the game, as he provides you with instructions on how to navigate past high-traffic areas unnoticed, as well as sounds out your targets for you in a succinct manner that will ensure your presence stays unnoticed.
The variation of commands, instructions and emotions from your spotter is done well too, adding to the realism of the game once you are on the ground surrounded by an overwhelming enemy force. He also comes in handy when you have multiple enemies to take out, it is just a pity you are not able to issue target instructions to him for seamless takedowns, but rather have to rely on scripted scenes for this to take place.
Overall though, the game looks very solid. My GTX670 tore it to pieces on Ultra-settings – with vsync enabled my FPS did not drop below 60 once. That said, I toned down the settings to high in order to get a feel of what the difference would be like from V-high to just high, and was surprised at how little difference it made, so the good news is that if you are playing SGW2 on an aging card, you will not be disappointed with it visually.
The gameplay itself is altogether a fun experience. Although there is an element of realism brought forth through the visuals and level design, players will be constantly reminded that this is a game by way of some overly intelligent AI that breaches on telepathy. For instance, should you decide to drop a bad guy who is in line of sight of his bad guy mates, they will not only be alerted to your presence, but immediately know exactly where you are and come storming at you like a bunch of hungry lions – and I don’t care how good your aim is, your bolt action sniper rifle is a redundant piece of weaponry against a few angry bad guys with machine guns. Let’s not forget that the one bullet, one kill mentality applies to you as well, so you will probably find yourself loading checkpoints every so often. This brings me to another bugbear – as has become accustom in a number of games released of late, you do not have the ability to save your progress at freewill in SGW2, but rather have to rely on reaching a checkpoint for your progress to be penned in – unfortunately the checkpoints are simply too far apart from one another in SGW2, resulting in some tedious repetition in gameplay should you get gunned down.
The next awesome feature is the bullet cam, Which, unlike most of the gameplay NEVER gets old. The only thing better than a 800 metre headshot, is the ability to follow the bullet in slow motion as it finds its way to its destination. Boom. Surprisingly though, you have the ability to turn the bullet cam off – I don’t know why anyone would want to do this?
Awesomeness and fun aside, the gameplay gets massively repetitive after about 100 kills. Sniping is cool, and taking down masses of enemies in with calculated precision is fun…but there is only so much one can take before you want to shoot yourself in the head. The game also becomes quite easy as you progress and become a better shot. It would have been great though, and may have added to the difficulty of the game a bit more, if players got the ability to choose what rifle they wanted to play with before each mission. The ability to purchase new rifles, upgrades to existing rifles and the ability purchase and choose different types of ammunition would have all been great additions to the game, something that may have justified the means to playing only with a sniper rifle throughout an entire game. Some puzzles and challenges, like hitting a moving target, or taking down an enemy through a penhole size gap would have been great additions to vary the gameplay a bit. Pity.
Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 takes place in a modern day setting, the story tellers could have literally gone anywhere, done anything, I’m not a story teller – but off the top of my head I was asking myself if they were going to put me in the shoes of a bloodthirsty mercenary, paid to track down, intercept and assassinate a high profile executive while travelling on a train from Italy to Switzerland for no good reason I wish to care about but for money and the thrill of hitting a moving target, after which setting off a sequence of events that would leave me stranded in the middle of hostile territory with my rifle, my cunning to survive and my ability to wreck open world mayhem…but instead, they took the same old clichéd linear approach: Somewhere in the middle of Siberia there is a terrorist looking to sell a lethal bio-weapon to another terrorist who is on the FBI, CIA, NSA and all other 3 letter acronym anti-terrorist organizations watch-lists, and it is your job (as the lame good guy) to stop them. I’m not even joking, that is the story.
It is so loosely strung together, that I think it is a continuation of the story from the first game but because there was so little pretext provided, I am still left pondering. I never played the first game and after following the story of this one I’ve no inkling to whatsoever.
The good news is that the story is so weak that the storytellers couldn’t even drag it out endlessly, the game is short, so short in fact that a good sniper will finish it on easy within a measly 4 hours. You need to ask yourself at this point if it is worth paying money for?
Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 is just another linear game, with the same clichéd plot we have been through a thousand times, made even more repetitive by the fact that your only weapon is a single sniper rifle. It is worth 20 minutes of fun with it’s gorgeous visuals, smooth gameplay and of course the infamous bullet cam, but not worth the price tag.