Building a sniper game must be a truly daunting task. The act of sniping is a calculated science in real life, but in a video game it often feels more like a side mission. Crafting an entire game around this mechanic needs a hook, and unfortunately the majority of them simply don’t have it. Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 just happens to be one of those experiences. While completely inoffensive on just about every level, including visuals powered by CryEngine 3, the overall experience never manages to elevate long-range marksmanship from a simple mechanic to compelling core concept.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is a short game. The campaign runs about four hours from start to finish, and somehow manages to feel a lot longer due to repetition. Each level has the same basic structure of sneaking from Point A to Point B, setting up shop and sniping enemies from a distance. Being spotted means instant failure, and supplies provided at the mission outset dictate arsenal. Picking up enemy weapons are out of the question, so if a firefight arises, loading the last checkpoint is usually the best course of action.
I would be OK with all of this if the actual act of sniping in the game was as intense as some previous titles I have played. The problem is that Ghost Warrior lacks the ingredient that would otherwise make it special. For example, the shooting lacks any tension thanks to drop markers on all difficulties below the hardest setting. Being able to see where bullets will land takes away the suspense of pulling the trigger, and led me to fire off shots wildly at times. The kill cam is also disappointing after playing a game like Sniper Elite. I hate to make comparisons, but after the visceral x-ray shots that game delivered, Ghost Warrior 2 simply feels like an arcade shooting gallery.
The lack of style and substance are the game’s biggest downfalls. Like I said, each level consists of the same structure, picking up enemy weapons is out and the objectives never graduate past menial tasks. There are minor distractions, such as a level that removes your weapons, forcing a stealth run through a camp, but it feels disconnected. Breath holding is also a large part of the sniping, but almost feels like cheating considering how simplified the shooting already is. The best way to play Ghost Warrior 2 is to pump up the difficulty as high as it will go; it is the only way to feel tension within an otherwise lackluster experience.
In addition to the campaign, there is also an online mode. I found this to be more like a checkbox than anything else. The map selection is insulting, with only two to choose from as of this writing. The online suffers from the same problems found in the single player, only amplified by everyone being snipers. Sure it can be tense lying in wait, watching for someone to slip up and give away their position, but it can also become incredibly boring. I would have loved to have seen some interesting takes on the mechanic, or even a competitive horde-type mode where kills are scored, but sadly the online feels more like a bullet point than anything else.
As I mentioned, the game is running on CryEngine 3, the same engine that powers the Crysis games. As one can imagine, this means it looks really slick running on my PC. Cranking the settings to max delivers lush jungle environments and some gorgeous effects that simply pop off the screen. The one thing Ghost Warrior 2 does well is bring variety to the environments. From the pitch black missions to lush mountainside views, the game delivers some breathtaking visuals. I wish the animation was on par. Watching enemies flail around in kill cam mode is disappointing. It never looks natural and further enforces the shooting gallery aspect of the overall experience.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is a disappointing experience that fails to deliver on the visceral idea of sniping. When recent games have done it so much better, it is hard not to draw comparison. Even with the cheaper price tag, I find it hard to recommend the game to anyone looking for this type of experience; there are simply better options out there. The online is a waste, the action isn’t as intense as I want it to be and the highlight of the game is its visuals. I wanted to love Ghost Warrior 2, and came away simply disappointed.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.
- Motherboard: ASUS P8Z77I Deluxe
- Liquid Cooling: Origin Frostbyte 120 Liquid Cooling
- Processor: Intel i7 3770K with Professional Origin PC Overclocking
- Memory: Corsair 8GB 1600 Mghz Vengeance
- Graphics Card: EVGA NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670