The original Sniper: Ghost Warrior had plenty of promise but was let down by horrible AI and odd difficulty curves. The sequel, while slightly improved, is still lacking in these areas.
The premise is the sort of gung-ho nonsense you'd expect from a bad action movie, with the player taking control of Captain Cole "Sandman" Anderson as he snipes the faces off of a variety of enemies all over the world, from Burma to Tibet. There's a plot jammed in there somewhere, but it's so filled with clichés and bad acting that we're depressing ourselves by even thinking about it.
This is partly thanks to the dialogue, which is at times over-dramatic (there's plenty of clichéd in-fighting between Anderson and his superiors), confusing (military buzzwords are thrown around like confetti), sweary, and downright unrealistic silly (when you blow up an Al Qaeda camp near the start of the game, their foreign yells are translated somewhat unconvincingly as "Jesus Christ!"). Basically, it's every war B-movie you've ever seen crammed into one disc.
Gameplay is a mixed bag, and is generally split into a number of different types. The most entertaining are the sections where you're sniping to support the rest of your team, taking out various enemies who are in the way of their planned route. You're backed up by a 'spotter', who indicates over radio which enemies to take out, at which point a target icon appears above them and you then line up and fire your shot.
It's little more than a very slow lightgun shooter but it's still entertaining - not only because the actual act of sniping enemies is satisfying, but because being told who to take out eliminates the need to deal with the game's ropey AI.
This happens during the sections where Anderson is split up from the rest of the team and has to go it alone. When each situation is less scripted and each enemy isn't presented to you in order, it's up to you to decide which enemies to take out in order to avoid the rest noticing. However, because the AI is so erratic and as unpredictable as a vote for the next Pope, a lot of this becomes a case of trial and error.
Some enemies will completely ignore their partners slumping to the ground mere feet away from them, as long as their back is turned. And yet, oddly, a single missed shot hitting the roof of a wooden shack will not only cause every single enemy in the area to notice it immediately, but also be able to instantly spot you in your camouflaged sniper position miles away, and attack you en masse leading to a likely death.
Whether missed shots actually happen with regularity is based entirely on the difficulty level you choose. This is a tricky decision because Medium difficulty makes sniping far too easy (a red dot is shown which flags exactly where the bullet will hit after taking distance and wind into account) and Hard difficulty makes it far too hard (the red dot is removed, but your first shot still has to count so you avoid detection). This is not a game Goldilocks would enjoy.
The stealth sections also feel like pure guesswork at times, as crawling around in the grass will sometimes allow you to lie right next to unaware enemies (while at the same time having a loud argument with your chief over your radio, amazingly), whereas other times you'll be spotted from a distance doing more or less the same thing.
Despite our complaints, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 shouldn't be completely ignored. Sniping enemies from a distance is satisfying, and the sections in which that's all you're tasked with can be very entertaining... while they last. Just like the first game, it's never long before the silly stealth sections and moronic AI return. Here's hoping it's improved for Ghost Warrior 3, eh?
Entertaining sniping action let down by frustrating AI and rubbish stealth sections.
- Picking off enemies is fun
- CryENGINE 3 environments look decent
- Enemy AI is as clued-up as a blank crossword
- Stealth sections are dull and temperamental
- Either too easy or too hard, depending on difficulty level