By Steve Wright
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is a conundrum of a game. You know all those tense moments in titles like Call of Duty or Battlefield, where you've got to sit high up in a sniper's nest and control yourself enough to land that one amazing shot? Well, imagine an entire game of just that. On one hand, it's an exercise in patience and trial-and-error… and on the other, it might be plain old tedium. How you approach the game is entirely up to you, provided you can look past Ghost Warrior 2's flaws.
I couldn't, for the most part.
Built on CryEngine 3, there's no denying that City Interactive have produced a wonderful looking game. As you move from Philippine jungles into Tibetan mountains, each of the game's setpieces is a sight to behold. Playing as a sniper (obviously), you'll be able to explore each map thoroughly as you progress through a level. The idea is to be patient and stealthy – after all, a sniper isn't much of a match for a group of soldiers brandishing automatic weapons. Or, if you've gotten impatient and have run full-pelt to a sniping position, you're going to have to wait before shooting, as your heartbeat is literally felt through your scope.
You're paired with a spotter who will call out enemy positions once you're all set up and raring to go. Being an awful sniper myself, I very much appreciated the game's HUD; as you aim, a reticule appears on-screen that shows a small icon where your bullet will actually hit, taking wind, distance and the like into consideration. As you get better at gauging those factors yourself, you can up the game's difficulty up to Expert and try compensating on your own.
So far, the game's sounding pretty good, right? Alas, the campaign took me about four hours to complete, and while that's not bad on its own, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2's campaign is largely repetitive. No, scratch that; absolutely repetitive. Here's your typical experience: start a level and avoid being detected. Then, shoot someone. Perhaps you'll have to stab someone using a stealth kill to boot. That's it; rinse and repeat.
Enemy AI is a mixed-bag, and can be perfect or completely crazy depending on sheer luck, and at times I was forced to reload previous checkpoints as scripted events didn't seem to trigger. The same goes for kill animations; Ghost Warrior 2 goes into a bullet time camera, slowing down to show your final kill. Sometimes, it works amazingly – sometimes, you'll see your bullet hit a helmet-wearing enemy which doesn't kill them immediately; other times, you'll see a bullet connect with perfection… and be treated with a wet-noodle enemy death animation.
The game's voice acting is downright atrocious, and I also found it difficult to care about the characters in the game. It might have been the short time I spent with them, but the characters were two-dimensional. They were full of arrogance; the 'all-guns-blazing' nature of your partner just made him someone you wanted to hate rather than someone you empathised with.
Multiplayer is an absolute joke. It's made up of only one mode – Team Deathmatch – and that's played out over an astounding two maps. While games like Tomb Raider have a multiplayer that's neither detracting or adding to the overall value of the game, I feel that Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2's multiplayer takes away from the title simply because it's so sparse.
All up, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 could be hit or miss for you. I'm not the most patient of gamers, so the repetitive, narrow-functioned nature of the title didn't appeal to me. Replay value is non-existent and the lack of a real multiplayer mode really cements that. If you're a gun nut, this has the potential to be right up your alley… provided you're into sniper rifles and not automatic weapons.