Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is an on-rails sniper experience with a reasonable amount of depth

There are precisely two games that revolve solely around a Sniper experience: the first is Rebellion Oxford and 505 Games’ Sniper Elite V2 and the other, is City Interactive’ s latest, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2. This basically means that you’re not left with much of a choice. If you’re in the market for a sniper game, the only decision you need to make has to do with era — prefer sniping Nazis with bone-crunching precision, and you’re going to have to settle for the former, but if long range duck hunts set in modern times are your cup of tea, Ghost Warrior is the way to go. So without further ado, let’s set up our .50 cal and pick off targets from several klicks away, shall we?

Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 has been described as “the only multi-platform first-person modern shooter, exclusively designed around the sniper experience” and as far as I can tell, this is the case. There are brief sections where you’re forced to pull out your trusty sidearm (and occasionally, your combat knife) but you will find yourself using your highly mobile silenced Remington MSR through most of the campaign, and when engaging foes at a long distance during the game’s various set pieces, you get to look through the scope of one of several high caliber sniper rifles, including the Barrett X500, DSR-50, Accuracy International Arctic Warfare 50 as well as the ubiquitous Soviet-era sniper rifle, the Izhmash SVD-Dragunov (which can be scavenged from downed enemy snipers). There’s a nice collection of weapons in the game, and it does feel that the developers have put some effort into modelling each gun so they look, feel and sound like their real-life counterparts. This game is so true to its philosophy that despite the presence of other firearms (such as assault rifles, mounted machine guns and launchers, none are usable by the player — they can’t even be picked up. For the Call of Duty faithful, this can almost seem sacrilegious, but it’s clear that the developers want you to snipe most of the time (given the title and all).

If you’re making a sniping game about snipers, then there had better be some sniper-specific gameplay features. Fortunately, there are a couple of them worth noting. A heartbeat metre tells you if generically named protagonist Cole Anderson is calm or tense — often the difference between life or death. A calm Cole is deadly accurate — his weapon sways less and he’s able to pick off enemies with deadly precision. A high heart-rate can often spell doom — Cole’s aim (and yours, as a result) is all over the place, and he’s pretty much performing the act of “spraying and praying”, which is all right if you’re shooting an SMG in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, but not acceptable with a Cheyenne Tactical M-200 Intervention in Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2’s jungles. The heartbeat system is greatly complemented by a realistic ballistics engine. Sniper rounds drop over distance, and are affected by wind — an in-game assist is available, pinpointing the exact impact point of a bullet but can be disabled for an extra challenge. This means that you’ll have to spend some time in the game’s firing range to master the art of compensating for wind over longer distances and multiple zoom levels. In summary, the game’s sniper-specific features add enough depth to distinguish it from the Call of Duties of this world.

It’s obvious that Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 wasn’t made on the sort of budgets that other triple-A shooters are, and this is apparent in the lack of polish, questionable writing and some strange level design (checkpoints are very poorly placed, heavily scripted set pieces, AI, environment is not very traversable). But, on the other hand, it can look very un-budget-title-like on occasion when it takes you to its distinct locales — the jungles of the Philippines, war torn urban jungles of Sarajevo and Tibet (the game is powered by Crytek’s CryEngine 3). But if polish and price aren’t a concern, and you’re looking for an on-rails sniper experience with a reasonable amount of depth, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 might be the game for you. The game is available on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3.