The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Sniping is one of the most empowering and satisfying acts you can perform in a video game when it’s done well. Dialing in a tricky shot from hundreds of yards away and watching your enemy ragdoll rarely gets old. Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 attempts to stretch those memorable moments into a full game, but its mission results in failure.
Ghost Warrior 2 is derivative of every sniping mission you’ve ever played. Specifically, the excellent Chernobyl mission in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. You sneak past huge patrols of soldiers in a conflicted European country, take aim on an enemy VIP from a bombed-out apartment complex, and even shoot down a chopper. Those moments, along with an uninspired trek through China, are part of a bloated campaign that lacks originality. City Interactive further insults its source material with mindless military jargon-filled dialogue and one of the worst Russian accents I’ve ever heard.
Military shooters have been criticized for their linear design in the past, but Ghost Warrior 2 takes it to a new level. Players are constantly told where to walk, who to kill, and when to hide. With so much hand-holding, I was surprised one of my follow-the-leader NPC buddies didn’t just take my rifle and do the shooting for me. Nearly every target is indicated for you, designating the order of your kills in a boring shoot-by-numbers design. Don’t look here for anything resembling an intense sniper duel. Most of your targets – even “skilled” enemy marksmen – stand around like mannequins.
Killing these lifeless dummies isn’t as simple as lining up your crosshairs. Ghost Warrior 2 tries to be hardcore by accounting for variables like elevation and wind, which means you spend several beats waiting for a secondary reticle to appear in your sights. This true reticle allows you to pull off dramatic, slow-motion bullet-cam kills. Pulling the trigger and watching your perfectly lined-up shot travel from your barrel to an enemy’s head (or groin) is consistently satisfying. But having played Rebellion’s Sniper Elite V2, it’s hard not to miss the lack of brutal x-ray kill cams.
If the monotonous campaign bums you out, don’t turn to multiplayer for redemption. The online offering is embarrassingly sparse. The only mode available is team deathmatch on a whopping two maps. These maps are functionally identical – two multi-leveled bases separated by a huge chasm with a single narrow bridge connecting them. Lining up shots on player-controlled characters is tricky due to their jittery animations, and the unresponsive controls exacerbate the issue. I was robbed of several lined-up shots because pulling the trigger simply didn’t do anything. Switching to your pistol is also painfully slow, leading to frustrating close-quarters deaths.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 feels like a bad parody of military shooters, but with poorly textured environments and sub-par mechanics. I like being the lone-wolf sniper as much as the next shooter fan, but City Interactive fumbles the power-trip from start to finish.