Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 is a very solid entry that takes the strengths of the original game and improves upon them. There’s still a few issues here and there that take the shine off just a bit, but for anyone who likes the strategy and stealth of playing a sniper, there is a lot to enjoy here.
For those familiar with the Sniper Ghost Warrior games, the earliest iterations were pretty fun breaks from the normal run-and-gun style shooters that were popular at the time. However, by the time Ghost Warrior 3 came out, it was clear that the formula had gotten a bit stale. Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts did a commendable job of narrowing in on a new formula and this sequel does a nice job of doubling down on things that were so good about that title.
There is so much that goes into that perfect kill shot. There’s inevitably going to be comparisons to Rebellion’s Sniper Elite series. The gory kill-camera shots are as gratuitous and yet rewarding as ever. The majority of the game’s focus comes down to not just finding your target, but trying to set up for that perfect kill shot from a ridiculous distance. Trying to find that sweet spot where you don’t get noticed, while watching your target for the perfect window – ideally where they stand still for a moment so they aren’t literally moving targets, but before that window closes – is really tense. Adjusting for the wind, trying not to get distracted by other things happening at the time… all of these elements are perfectly baked into the experience to create these really exciting moments that are incredibly satisfying when you nail that shot.
Of course, there is more to it than simply finding a secluded spot where things just turn out due to lucky happenstance. The earlier stages take it relatively easy on you, but the later stages try to get you to dig a bit deeper into your bag of tricks. One of the primary gameplay loops of Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 are the contracts themselves. Just killing your target is often fairly easy, but you can get some unique challenges sprinkled in there such as staying completely stealthy the entire time or to knock off your target with some tactic other than just a bullet through the head. These extra funds then get used to purchase equipment that can make your tasks easier going forward, like a drone that helps you to scout beyond just your line-of-sight. I never felt like these or the purchasable skill upgrades were going to make or break my missions, but some of them certainly made life easier for me than not having them would have. These gadgets play in nicely to the setting, which is somewhat futuristic, if not overly so.
The story itself is nothing special. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it. But the whole premise of operating along the border of a foreign country to stealthily take out bad guys is pretty common stuff for games of this nature. The voice acting gets the job done and the characters’ motivations all make sense, I was just never all that heavily invested in that part of the game for whatever reason. It was not bad, it was just kind of forgettable – which is fine as the actual sniping gameplay is the real star and focus here.
The pacing of Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 suits me really well. As most people who read my reviews on the shooter genre know, I tend to gravitate towards sniping. There is just something about it that resonates with me. I am seldom in the top half of the board when it comes to kills in run-and-gun games like Call of Duty or Battlefield, but I tend not to die much and focus heavily on objectives, which is much more satisfying to me. That patience of mine tends to translate pretty well to this title, which wants you to spend time doing reconnaissance before jumping into things. Skirt the perimeter, use your binoculars to tag enemies and learn their movement patterns. Learn who the immediate threats are – like other AI snipers looking around for troublemakers such as yourself, and make sure to take them out first.
If you are looking forward to a run-and-gun experience? I recommend you look elsewhere. While Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 handles the ranged game quite well, your character just does not hold up as well when things get a bit more personal. You have some different weapons and traps you can apply, but they tend to feel more clumsily executed. There are a few rough edges in the presentation as well that can show up here. The AI is not overly smart, but when things get really hectic, the enemy soldiers can be annoyingly hive-mind as one person sees you and suddenly the rest in the vicinity just immediately know exactly where you are at. There should be a little more pause for confusion one would think.
If you do sneak away, they finally just call down airstrikes on what they think was your general location and then go back to business as though nothing happened. The environments generally look pretty nice, but there are some odd issues where things sometimes just don’t work like you’d expect as you fail to climb a rock or flail about weirdly in a somewhat shallow bit of water. When you’re in stealth mode, working the perimeter, these annoyances are pretty forgivable, but they are a bit more irritating when you are trying to get away and the environment is working against you nearly as much as the soldiers.
In terms of the amount of content, Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 should keep you busy for about a dozen hours. There’s not all that many stages, but the replay value comes from the various contract conditions. You will not execute on all of them in one go. You are meant to make some money, learn some things about the stage, and then come back and try things with a slightly retooled gameplan and perhaps one of those previously discussed upgrades. Even if you somehow happen to come up with what seems like the perfect plan, the contract conditions themselves might conflict with one another if one wants you to kill your target two completely different ways.
Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 is not a AAA title, and it lacks a bit of the polish that comes with that, especially where the environmental interactions and some of the visuals are concerned. That being said, Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 gets it right where it matters most – the sniping gameplay. Scouting out for that perfect shot when you connect with it is incredibly satisfying. That gameplay loop of making money, improving your gear and skills and trying things from a different angle was a lot of fun, even with some of its rough edges.Score: 7.25 / 10