Another Guest Spot from our resident Rainbow 6 gamer-girl.
Nina has taken a break from clearing rooms in CQB. Dipping into some long distance combat with this review of the new Sniper Ghost Warrior.
When I was presented with Sniper Ghost Warrior: Contracts 2 to play, I admit I was apathetic at best. It was a series I’d never played, from a studio I’d never heard of, tackling a genre I’d never been really interested in. After sinking 15-20 hours of playtime into this game, I am more than happy to say that (we will just call it “Sniper” going forward) has totally exceeded my expectations.
Surprisingly, the production value of this game blew me away. Graphically it looks as good as any triple-A FPS release while also keeping a very steady 60 fps. Granted, the story’s only real purpose is to give you an excuse to go around assassinating terrorists. Although I was surprised by the quality of the writing and voice acting for the game’s two main voiced characters. Raven, the guy you play as, and Control, the voice in your head giving you your objectives.
In a lot of these sniper-sim games, the sniper is reduced to a blank slate. With any handler type characters are just cookie-cutter exposition machines. And while Raven and Control are no Naughty-Dog masterclasses, they have a lot of genuine chemistry. The banter they share while Raven is on the ground really helps build your immersion and your attachment to your player character. It’s a small detail, but it adds so much to the experience.
Don’t judge a Wolf by its Sheep’s clothing.
But while good graphics and writing are nice, they’re just icing on the cake. The aspect that really makes or breaks a game like this, is gameplay. I’m very happy to report that Sniper excels in most regards. For starters, the gameplay is surprisingly diverse. In a single mission, you can find yourself engaging in close-medium range gunfights one minute, then taking two thousand meter shots the next. Considering I was expecting a game that would lock me into purely sniping-based engagements, this was a pleasant surprise. The diversity kept each contract exciting and fresh, and rather than detracting from the sniping, it made them feel all the more special and earned.
The semi-open world map also allows you to approach objectives in non-linear ways. With a wide range of gadgets, secondary weapons and skill-upgrades to assist. Getting into the nitty-gritty, the actual FPS gunplay feels great and the sniping mechanics are polished and smooth. But Sniper’s biggest draw for me was how well it balances being challenging without being frustrating. As eluded to earlier, I never had a lot of interest in sniper-sims purely because I found them too difficult. But Sniper caters for everyone from newbies to seasoned veterans.
The accessibility and learning curve.
I started on the second-lowest difficulty (I know, leave me alone). While I still had to consider things like bullet drop and windspeed when taking my shots, the ADS screen offered useful, unintrusive markers to help guide me. Once I no longer needed the HUD aids, I simply bumped the difficulty up and the game happily left me alone to line up my shots myself.
While overall, Sniper walks the line between challenge and fun very well, there are a few instances where it tips too far in the direction of challenge. In one contract, an area forces you into a chokepoint. Swarming with enough enemies that stealth is nigh impossible, and you’re forced to shoot your way out. And while Sniper’s close-range gunplay is good by all means, it’s no Call of Duty. By that I mean enemies have good aim, bullets hit like a freight-train and you don’t have infinite ammo to burn through.
Pushing the reality envelope.
The game also enjoys throwing excessive numbers of frustrating enemies at you like automated machine turrets and heavily armoured enemies. If you have the specific gadgets or upgrades necessary to deal with them, then it’s no big deal. But if you don’t, it can seriously dampen the fun. But, again, I found that these moments were relatively few and far between. They certainly weren’t enough to ruin my experience.
Whether you are a hardened sniper-sim veteran or someone just looking for a fun yet intelligent FPS game, Sniper Ghost Warrior: Contracts 2 has you covered. Its encounter-to-encounter gunplay is snappy and smooth. The sniping mechanics are detailed and well refined. On top of that, its beautifully designed environments and solid writing really immersed you into your long-range assassin role. It’s a game that those who are outside of the series’ faithful, are likely to miss.
So take it from me, if you are even remotely interested in Sniper Ghost Warrior: Contracts 2 then go get it. You won’t be sorry.