Much like a sniper’s bullet, I expect my copy of Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 traveled a long distance to reach me. Unlike a sniper’s bullet it traveled suspiciously slowly, and therefore late, hence why this review is up after the release date.
But what of the game itself? Well it’s pretty awful. As the name suggests you play as a sniper in the Ghost Warrior unit. Gameplay consists of taking out targets using your scoped rifle of death. The USP here is that unlike on Call of Duty or other FPS games you actually have to take account of real world physics. Simply pointing your crosshair at the target and squeezing the trigger won’t do. For example, if the target a long way away and up above you (say, in a distant church bell tower) you’ll need to aim your crosshair above them to account for the bullet drag. Wind is also a factor, with a handy gauge letting you know how far left or right of the target you need to aim to compensate for it.
If this all sounds a bit daunting then fear not. On easier difficulty settings you get a bullet impact indicator showing you where your shot will actually end up. This doesn’t take all the skill out of things either: you still need to hold your breath and pick your shots well. So why is it so bad? Let’s start with the campaign mode. Before your first mission even starts you’re ‘treated’ to a briefing given in a visual info-dump style (lots of terrain maps and pictures of bad men in shades) over which your superiors start yacking. It’s here that the first alarm bells start ringing.
The voice acting is slightly embarrassing (faux-macho dreck) but really, it’s the scripting that screams “amateur!” in 50 foot high letters. It’s like Platoon re-written by a 14 year old kid on a sugar rush. Every war cliché you could imagine tossed into the mix and presented before you like a half baked, this’ll do, piece of garbage. I’m not overreacting by the way. I’m emphatically not overreacting. If your whole selling point is the immersion into a characters POV, nothing yanks you out of it like bad dialogue. It’s not even so bad it’s good, it’s just embarrassing. But hey, maybe I’m placing too much importance on it. Let’s see what the first mission is like.
It starts promisingly enough. Graphically things are altogether more impressive thanks to the CryEngine3. The jungle is lush and verdant and looks like it could be teeming with life (it isn’t though, but that’s beside the point). You move up with your fellow sniper/spotter and follow his commands. And then the first clunky thing happens. Just after telling you to take a shot, your spotter calls it off, by which time it’s already too late and an extra patrol of bad guys shoots you both to ribbons. Then right back to the start of the mission as the game has a poor checkpoint system. Okay that’s forgivable. Annoying, but forgivable.
Later on you make your way to the top of a church and give cover to a squad as they advance on the enemy. This is genuinely entertaining, your every shot counting and a sense of tension arising from making sure the vulnerable team on the ground get through okay. You get to shoot a fuel tank to create a diversion. Things seem to be picking up. Then the game repeats this scenario, with different scenery. Again. And again. It does not change. Its startling lack of invention led me to believe it’s some kind of avant garde experiment in minimalist game design, before I realised that nah; it’s just rubbish.
Normally I’d go into more depth on the campaign (poor stealth, stupid health system, always a linear path) but since the game seems to have been made with a lack of respect for those playing it bordering on contempt, I don’t see why I should afford it any more detail.
Still multiplayer will be better won’t it? Nope, there’s only one mode which is Team Deathmatch. That’s it. Nothing else. Fine. How many maps? Two. Yes you did read that correctly. Two maps. I don’t really know what I’m supposed to say, other than that it make me sad. Amazingly, there are even more problems. A game will not start until the host has readied up. There is no timer on this, so unless you host a game yourself you could be waiting an indefinite amount of time for a game to start. Could be five minutes, could be forty.
At the time of playing, the servers didn’t seem to be up to much either, with several games losing connection either mid-game or before they started. This is not a problem I had with any of the other games in my collection that day. Once you finally get enough players for a game (unsurprisingly, not many people on) and a host that actually readies up what you get is an uninspired target gallery. Two teams situated on either side of an expanse of land trying to pick each other off. With little incentive to communicate (no team based objectives) this is where gameplay goes to die.
To sum up
I don’t really have much energy left to sum up, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 has taken my last ounce of spirit. All I can say is don’t buy this game. Even if you’re a sniping fan and think it might be fun, do not buy this game! I wish a sniper’s bullet did reach me instead of this game. Version reviewed: Xbox 360