This is my rifle, this is my gun; this game is boring, this game is dumb
Imagine taking a common element in first-person shooters—sniping—and building not just a whole level around this mechanic, but an entire game. Viola—Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2. Unfortunately, unlike sniping sequences in most shooters, which tend to be graciously short-lived experiences, Ghost Warrior 2 is roughly five hours of nonstop sniping scenarios (punctuated by occasional stabbings).
Somewhere out there, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2’s niche exists. I know it does. I am beyond confident that a smattering of first-person shooter fans want the focused, single-minded experience Ghost Warrior 2 offers.
Most of us, however, do not.
Most will find the repetitive nature a joyless grind, which is not to say that the second Sniper: Ghost Warrior is a terrible game. It’s just not a very fun one. It’s a novel concept married to poor execution, resulting in an uninspired, unremarkable title that asks a lot from players but gives them almost nothing in return.
In particular, the game asks for patience—the kind reserved for the most unforgiving stealth games. Anything less, and Sniper introduces you, repeatedly, to the Game Over screen and its emphatic declaration that “You are Dead!”
And, really, this is how Sniper ought to be. Any title in which the exclusive gameplay mechanic is sniping ought to be, in large part, a stealth title. In real life, sniping is a matter of patience and precision. Snipers lie in wait unseen, tagging targets from afar. But the waiting in Sniper is boring. There’s no tension, no sense of peril. The enemies are shooting gallery ducks in camouflage.
So, to enjoy Sniper, you must be both a patient gamer and an equally patient person. The latter is necessary to wait in the bushes while your ducks line up in a row. The former is necessary because City Interactive’s sniping simulator doesn’t offer much in the way of variety; its 10 or so missions spread across three acts all unfold pretty much identically.
Start by weaving your way through a woefully linear level lacking in alternate routes or attack options (and, by “lacking,” I mean none whatsoever). As you wind your way toward the objective, dispatch occasional groups of enemies by staying low and sniping. Once you reach the objective—usually, notably, a high ledge upon which to perch and pull the trigger of your .50-caliber rifle—you snipe some more. This goes on for roughly five hours, with intermittent, wholly forgettable stealth sequences thrown in to break up the monotony.
On rare occasions, the sniping feels rewarding, but after a few of those moments, the charm quickly loses its luster. It’s hard to take any pride and joy from picking off a bald-headed target who might as well be branded with a bulls-eye on the back of their skull. It’s all quite easy, so long as you exercise the necessary amount of patience to let them wander off from safety in numbers. Unfortunately, such inept AI drains the game entirely of any tension that ought to come from having to manage wind direction, heart rate, and steadying your breath while making precision shots from 500 yards.
All of this might be made tolerable if nested in an engaging narrative. But it’s not. The characters in Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 are completely stock—bought from the standard military-archetype store. Storytelling seems to be an afterthought, something slapped together in haste to provide just enough narrative cohesion to move the player from Point A to Point B while offering some fleeting sense of agency, of purpose. Well, you might say that no one plays Sniper for the narrative. And you’d be right to say that, but it’s just one more thing I don’t like about Ghost Warrior 2. It’s just one more disappointment.
When you start looking elsewhere for something—anything—that might be a redeeming quality, only to find none, it’s impossible not to see Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 as the sum of its half-baked parts.
|Developer: City Interactive • Publisher: City Interactive • ESRB: M – Mature • Release Date: 03.15.2013|
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is an interesting concept that proves less interesting in execution—and ultimately suffers from repetition that’s beyond boring.
|The Good||Playing a support role that hangs back from the main action provides a unique perspective.|
|The Bad||A lack of challenging, engaging enemy encounters makes being left behind feel like playing outfield in Little League.|
|The Ugly||After the first 30, maybe 40 minutes of this game, you get it—better like it, though, ’cause you’ve got four more hours ahead of you.|
|Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is available on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360.|