Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 Hands-On
There’s something about sniping in video games that is almost… cathartic. To just sit back, far from the action, and pick off Charlies through a scope is, to the gamer, what squashing ants is to the five-year-old.
While my hands-on time with Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 at E3 2012 was my first foray into the franchise, the experience felt comfortingly familiar. I loaded into the game, finding myself in the wilderness with a spotter ahead of me — an ally that would accompany me throughout my mission.
Maddox, my spotter, beckoned to me, then called out the position of an enemy in the distance.
I cleared the tall grasses, went prone, and brought up my scope. Zooming in, I spotted the Charlie, idling by a tank.
Maddox gave me the go-ahead to take my shot.
S:GW has been lauded for its realism, and the brunt of my sniper training came from years of Unreal Tournament — which, as you might imagine, isn’t heavy on realism — so it took me a few missed shots to realize I needed to account for bullet drop-off due to gravity. But thereafter, I was landing my fair share of headshots, delightfully rendered in cinematic, bullet-time fatalities.
Don’t worry — the fatality effect doesn’t happen every time you kill an enemy. Rather than over-expose you to the effect, the game rewards you with the sequence only when you land a perfect shot.
I progressed through the demo with Maddox leading the way, moving from cover to cover, calling out enemy patrols, and telling me who and when to shoot. “Heads up. Two… three tangos. One in the window, two outside. Engage on my call.”
When the coast was clear, Maddox would offer some banter in his gruff, world-weary soldier voice. The dialogue, while seldom breaking from standard bunker talk, felt genuine and fleshed out his character.
The demo culminated in an intense shootout while perched in a water tower. Several tangos required neutralizing, and I missed a shot, alerting the lot of them to my presence in my roost. Still, I managed to pick them off, one by one, while dodging the incoming gunfire. It was close — I nearly died — but it brought the demo to a satisfying close.
With Maddox essentially spelling out exactly where to go and what to do, gameplay felt linear; but not necessarily in a bad way. This wasn’t some disembodied voice barking orders at me — this was a partner in the trenches with me. There was some mindless fun in following his lead, and I always felt that if I didn’t listen to him, I’d die.
I suspect the amount of direction Maddox was giving me may have rendered the game dull a few hours in, but the demo only lasted about ten minutes and served as an introductory segment — whether the game becomes less linear deeper in remains to be seen. Still, anyone looking for a solid sniper experience should keep on eye on this title.