[REVIEW] Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 – Wait for it…

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always seemed to liked sniping in video games. While everybody was running and gunning in – let’s say – Call of Duty, I’d be the one replaying All Ghillied Up. Over and over again. I dunno, man. It’s just the sensation of patiently waiting, being methodical, scoping the place out, and not striking until you’re really sure you can get away unnoticed. This is exactly why I’ve started to appreciate CI Games for their tenacity to keep the Sniper: Ghost Warrior series alive. Because – and let’s face it – SGW hasn’t always been a one-hit-one-kill franchise. But Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 is doing a pretty good job of keeping me zoomed in on the objective.

To a certain extent, this doesn’t come as a surprise to me. I’ve had my fair share of pink mists a couple of years ago with its predecessor, Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts. Like its predecessor, Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 also puts focus on… wait for it… contracts. I know, it’s pretty obvious. You play as Raven, a savvy marksman who’s been tasked with avoiding major political conflict by taking a few pieces of the chessboard. With the dictator of Kuamar suffering from a serious case of quietus (a.k.a. death), The Middle-Eastern country now has to deal with his ruthless widow. And boy, does she have some plans. As you might guess, they ain’t pretty. Time to end these shenanigans.

As befitting for a Sniper: Ghost Warrior game, the best way to do so is by tactically placing extra breathing holes. Preferably somewhere between the eyes. That’s where your trusty weapons come into play. Most of your targets are really serious about social distancing. To make sure they’ll never get in your 1.5-meter safe space, they tend to stand – let’s say – 1.5 kilometers away from you. This makes giving people a third eye particularly challenging. Luckily, CI Games has got the mechanics of sniping fairly under control, and Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 is a good example of this mastery. Things like bullet drop and wind speeds are all accounted for, making Contracts 2 as realistic as possible. For mainstream video games standards, that is.

Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 is at its best when pushing the player to work methodically and well-planned. The scouting, planning, and long-ranged combat are undeniably the game’s strong suit. This means that for the greater part, Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 is as good as it’ll ever get when it comes to sniping. It is only when close-quarter combat enters the stage that the cracks are starting to show. Enemy A.I. – or rather their peripheral vision – is all over the place. Me being in the open clear seems to be of no importance, even when getting into spotting distance. I’ve literally had enemies walk right up to me without sounding the alarm. But once that alarm does go off, everyone within a two-kilometer range seems to have dead-eye marksmanship. Even simple grunts with a basic assault rifle suddenly have 20/20 vision and super bullets.

Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 screenshot

It is therefore key that you avoid these close-up conflicts, even if the five available massive maps sometimes compel you to get up close and personal. But the game never seems to force you to engage in lethal combat. In a game where patience is the golden word, “seeking out options” are the silver ones. Every secondary objective seems to have multiple ways of getting it crossed off the to-do list and finding a non-lethal one is usually one of them. It’ll only take more time to get the job done, especially if you neglect to invest in gadgets and upgrades. It’s either that or having an enemy camp come looking for you. And that they will. Every one-in-five captives that I interrogated told me so, right before I opened up his windpipe. Yeah, that’s also a thing… the limited vocabulary of the foot soldiers on patrol. Turns out that a lot of them never wanted to be a soldier.

But other than that, I must say that Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 has given me ten hours of solid sniping in my first run and is trying to convince me to give it another go. By presenting me with all kinds of challenges, I might even do so. Since every target has several ways of getting whacked – being conveniently summarized in the Challenges tab – no two playthroughs have to be the same. Maybe I’ll even go for a full non-alert playthrough, which will definitely extend that total playtime by several hours. Then again, I’m just too damn hooked to those gruesome bullet cams, showing me all kinds of horrid death scenes. If only CI knew that bullets deform after hitting hard tissue or steel…

The Hits
The methodical gameplay is oh so soothing
Kill cams showing you the most horrifying skull combustions
There's more than one way to get the job done
The massive scale of the five maps feels liberating
Maybe not the most beautiful FPS, but still visually impressive
Rock-solid performance and reasonably fast loading times
I kinda like Raven's attitude and voice-over
The Misses
Enemy's peripheral vision is FUBAR...
... and so is their vocabulary...
... but wait until one spots you to watch them all turn into hawk-eyed G.I.'s with super bullets
CQB is definitely ancillary to sniping