Being a sniper is one of those jobs that requires a hearty regimen of discipline, since success is dependent on precision. There’s also the whole thing about holding the lives of random people in one’s hands--it makes sniping so empowering. With the aid of CryENGINE 3, City Interactive sought to give gamers an easy excursion into the world of a well-trained sniper with Sniper 2: Ghost Warrior. CryENGINE 3 is designed to throw around more polygons--more effectively--than all other engines on current consoles. If that really is true, then I blame this generic shooter on a lack of precision and ambition.
The story of Private Security Consultant Captain Cole Anderson is one found in typical military stories: the main character dislikes his orders, vocalizes his dislike throughout, and defies the orders when he or she deems appropriate as the threat of nuclear attack looms over a late '90s world. A lot of this game is to be expected, since generic shooters really don’t veer too far off the beaten path. Textures generally look good, but that’s not always the case. Some scenes load in when looking down the scope and the textures tend to not be fully loaded by the time most shots are taken, which reflects a similar issue that occurs with the much older Unreal Engine 3. Terrain looks fairly good, with detailed trees and vast landscapes as the maps, but some details are forgotten in the big picture. Grass looks pixelated when crawling through it, and many bushes appear flat in the same circumstance. Again, this is CryENGINE 3, but Unreal Engine 3 can do better.
However, Sniper 2 is great where it should be great: sniping. Blindly aiming down the sights will yield little success, as gravity and wind direction can influence the trajectory of a bullet. Aiming isn’t a complete guessing game, however. The scope displays the distance to the target, and shows how fast the wind is blowing and from what direction. This makes shooting realistic, where the target is not lined up with the reticle, allowing reason and experience take over. Even better is having the ability to watch fired bullets travel, offering visual cues that help determine where shots can be taken. It will take a while to acclimate to compensating for the elements, but this part of Sniper 2 is what makes the $40 investment worth coughing up.
However, Sniper 2 breaks the realism of sniping in one huge way. I’ve never really noticed this in many shooters, but so many developers black out the rim of scopes while aiming. Using the scope to zoom brings the world closer rather than actually zooming in on it. This means that the game itself compensates to see what’s going on across the map rather than refracting a far-off image to make it bigger; in Sniper 2, you can witness the act of zooming happening OUTSIDE the scope. Considering that most of the game is spent looking down a scope of some kind, it's astonishing that City Interactive didn’t have the vision to at least cover it up. The overall experience is cheapened as a result.
Thankfully, the game's audio quality is competent; the only sound bites that really stand out are guns firing. Foot falls, moving grass, and explosions aren’t really that bombastic or impacting, though they get the job done well enough. The guns, however, relish in satisfying booms, and weapon recoil is oh-so-sweet when it’s followed by a thick firing blast and a clean headshot.
Only trophies and collectibles will compel you to play through Sniper 2's single-player campaign more than once. What’s fortunate for those playing this game for both of those reasons is that the hard difficulty, which is available from the start, isn’t really that hard at all; if collectibles are on the agenda, you'll be bagging hula skirt figures in no time. Don't ask--they've got nothing to do with the overall plot.
The one part of gameplay that stands out is the importance of stealth. Once discovered, Captain Cole Anderson becomes the bullet bag for every soldier on the immediate map, mostly because his handgun and grenades are not formidable weapons against many quick engaging enemies. Enemy AI is generally decent, though it lapses every once in a while when trying to take cover in complex battlefields. However, areas are bound between very, very widespread checkpoints, and enemies in one zone won’t follow into another. This may be another typical exercise in game programming, but moving forward usually requires all enemies to be eliminated. Again, this is an example of incomplete development, which calls into question how CryENGINE 3 really benefited this title at all.
In most shooters, multiplayer carried an expected palette of options and game modes, such as Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, King of the Hill, etc. However, City Interactive must have felt limited by the narrow style of gameplay in a sniping title, because the multiplayer aspect of this game only features Team Deathmatch.
That’s right. There's only one online game mode.
What makes the multiplayer worse is that it only has two maps, though both maps are designed fairly well for both aggressive gameplay and short matches. The servers, on the other hand, are a mess. In most matches that I played, I would either be disconnected from a match right away or disconnected right after a match ended. Even when it worked, the short matches that I mentioned earlier felt far too short to be thoroughly enjoyed. Many players in my games had around 10 kills, but I was only able to score about 3, so efficiency and knowledge of common roosts is part of the game. That sort of appeal is very dependent on player preference, and certainly won't capture everyone's attention.
Amidst all of the flaws in Sniper 2: Ghost Warrior, it’s hard not to enjoy the heavy amount of sniping, but what I’d consider filler between bouts of sniping is what bogs down the eight-hour experience grossly. Vast, detailed landscapes falter in significance at the game’s overall lack of ambition. Moving from sniping roost to sniping roost, Sniper 2 picks off its own good qualities as it moves along. That said, average games exhibit a 50/50 mix of pros and cons, and this is exactly where Sniper 2 resides. A good sniping experience is really the only reason that anyone should pick up this game--not because of online multiplayer, and not because of the narrative. It’s a shame to see CryENGINE 3 utilized in such a cumbersome, lackluster way.
|Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 Review by Timothy Nunes|
-The Final Word-
The entertainment of sniping in Sniper 2 is plagued by bouts of mediocrity between each shooting scenario, resulting in a rush to get to the next sniping roost. The multiplayer isn't even equivalent to a cut-and-paste of other shooters, and the narrative is something found in any military movie. $40 may be cheaper than most games, but so is the experience in Sniper 2.