With ultra-long range sniping at the heart of its appeal, Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 is not a game burdened with needing to reinvent the narrative wheel. Dropping you into the fictional middle eastern country of Kuamar – just one phonetic away from The West Wing’s equally fictional Qumar – where a cruel and brutal regime is gearing up for war with one of its neighbours, your task is to dismantle the regime from bottom up, defusing the potential disruption to the region and ensuring that the price of oil doesn’t go up. That’s obviously the more important things here, right?
The scope (heh) of the game is as big as ever, following on from 2019’s Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts with an emphasis on extreme distance sniping. To facilitate that there’s a mixture of different map types, all with an open world element. That could be an actual large scale open world level, or a smaller sandbox area filled with enemy guards and patrols and some key sniping points that give you an ideal vantage point overlooking an enemy base that’s well over a kilometre away.
It’s from those vantage points that the game’s cornerstone sniping moments can really shine. The first element is whipping out a pair of binoculars to spot and mark all of the targets possible, getting the ranges before then switching to your chosen sniper rifle. The sniping mechanics themselves are fantastic, thanks to the refined and fluid HUD you see through the sniper rifle scope. The crosshair has a regular white line dropping out from the centre, indicating the effect that wind will have on the shot, with the different ranges on the scope similarly marked. At extreme ranges, you’ll be zoomed in a huge amount and the effects of wind and bullet drop will be massive, so being able to simply shift the range finder is a huge boon to make these long shots manageable.
When you can’t really put a bullet wrong, especially for completing some of the game’s challenges, that’s hugely important. From extreme range, it’s not the noise of the sniper rifle that will get you discovered, but missed shots and targets being taken out and discovered. Even from the first mission, working through a dockside industrial zone will mean watching patrol patterns, taking out isolated snipers, pairs of soldiers in a single shot, maybe going for some environmental kills. Maybe I’m getting squeamish in my old age (well, not so old that I can get a vaccine yet), but I’ll admit there was something to the bullet cams and the accentuated nature of what the sniper rifles can do that took me aback for a second. Sniper Elite’s X-ray cams come off as silly excess, but Ghost Warrior’s feel more realistic in the kinds of visceral harm your bullets cause.
You’ll be able to select between a whole host of sniper rifles and other equipment for each mission, once you’ve unlocked things. Each of the eight rifles has different characteristics and varying ability to use armour piercing and explosive rounds, EMP and DARPA bullets, and tagging and luring shots. Each will have a different use. Need to take out a convoy of vehicles? Well, the explosive rounds might do the trick, but you could also shut down the vehicles using an EMP shot and get your target to step outside. The tagging bullet can be particularly useful to mark targets when they’re behind cover or in buildings, helping to cover some blind spots that you haven’t been able to cover with your binoculars.
That’s just the start of the gadgetry available to you. A drone is hardly futuristic anymore, but you probably won’t get a drone for £25 off everyone’s favourite online retailer that can put out an EMP pulse or shoot tranq darts at targets. You certainly won’t find an automated sentry turret sniper rifle that you can place to cover your back when in a sniper nest or to tag team as you take out enemies.
You need to complete challenges as you play, tiered in bronze, silver and gold difficulty to, for example, take out a target that’s trying to escape, do so with an explosion, complete a mission without raising an alarm, and so on. With challenge points in hand, you can spend them on developing your gear further, enhancing your drone with a longer battery, your turret sniper to highlight its target with a laser, improve your camouflage, and so on.
Compared to the long-ranged sniping fare, you have a few options with sneaking through an enemy base. You can try going all guns blazing (though you won’t last very long in a heated gunfight), you can try to get the drop with your sniper rifle and then relocate as enemies close in on your position and start using their mortars, try and sneak through with silenced pistol, or combine these differing tactics. Once you go loud, the enemy are quick to hone in on your position and try to reach you, and given that you can’t take too much damage, you might want to be a bit sneakier. Not only that, but you can interrogate enemies and officers for intel, which could tie in with some map challenges.
Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 might not feel cutting edge with its setting and the story’s premise, but it’s sure to offer the kind of stealthy first-person sniping action that fans of the series have come to expect.