The lights are on
I'm going to go ahead and get this out of the way, if you don't thoroughly enjoy sniping in games, your probably not going to love this title. Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 touts some serious improvements over the first game. The AI are no longer all seeing eagle eye master marksmen like certain frustrating segments in SGW1. They behave much more consistently, while still giving plenty of challenge. The level design is all around more enjoyable. Stealthing around is fun, and nicely paced between sniping segments. The set pieces themselves are larger in scale, have more baddies to bag, and require careful coordination with your spotter to kill enemies in the proper order to remain undetected. Your AI partner/spotter doesn't always hold your hand however, as he is not always present, and when he is he sometimes leaves it up to you to map out the correct kill order for certain scenarios.
The act of long distance precision shooting feels like the most realistic simulation in a game to date. You have to account for distance (bullet drop due to gravity), as well as wind. Any real life sharpshooter will tell you that wind is the most difficult factor to account for with long distance shooting, and in the game just like in real life, the wind can change at a moments notice. Your scope however has a built in range finder, as well as a wind gauge so you always have these two variables accounted for. On casual and Medium modes the point of impact of the round is estimated for you by giving you a little red dot on your crosshair to indicate where your round will land. On expert mode you have to do the math yourself which leads to a much more fulfilling sniping experience. On normal you might have been going for head shots, but it is much more advantageous to go for body shots when playing on expert which are just as lethal. Achievement whoring can give even more challenge to the hardcore (i.e. completing an entire act without using med kits.)
Multiplayer is fun, albeit a bit shallow. There are only 2 maps and no leveling up or customizing load outs, the only grind your gonna find are in MP achievements. MP is meant to be a true snipers vs snipers experience. This means find a good spot to hide (and there are tons) and wait out the perfect shot. Its not for everyone, but for a sniping enthusiast like myself its actually a lot of fun. There's a certain rush of lying in wait patiently, fervently scanning the opposing side of the map for a sign of the enemy, you might notice a fraction of his body exposed...do you wait for him to move more into the open? Or do you move to a spot with a better view risking exposing yourself? If you get bored of roasting marshmallows over your cosy campfire with no action, you can always risk running to the other side via a short bridge to get some knife or pistol kills. There is NO AIM ASSIST like in COD, so pistol dueling can get pretty heated, but if you make it to the other side undetected, you can potentially rack up a slew of quick kills turning the tide for your team.
Lastly the drawbacks of the game. The frame rate can dip at times, resulting in some very noticeable hiccups. This doesn't really happen during the sniping set pieces however, mostly from moving place to place. The writing and story are god awful and cliche to say the least. The premise is uninspired (prevent terrorists from using a stolen bio weapon blabla) and the dialogue is bad enough to make you wince more than once. The single player experience is pretty short lived, after playing through the game on medium as well as expert I clocked in at a little over 11 hours. The multiplayer is enjoyable, but frequent connection issues became frustrating, and the lack of maps and any type of character customization means it probably wont hold your attention for very long. Bottom line, if your a fan of sniping, or in the mood for a pretty good stealth based experience, SGW2 is a solid rental. The full retail price is already fairly cheap, so in a few months a used copy could definitely warrant a purchase for fans of the genre.
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