Review – Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts 2
It’s no secret that I love a good stealth game. Give me an option and I’ll choose to be a long range stealth assassin every time. The act of being able to pick off an entire map without being spotted is a thrill for me and its own type of puzzle. My friends laugh at me because I play Dishonored full stealth, no kills, and no powers. They call it a “no fun run”, but to me it’s rewarding and intense planning your strikes from the shadows. I get the same satisfaction from titles like Hitman, where smartly planned assassinations are rewarded. Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 feels like a combination of Hitman and Far Cry, and I love it.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 has a pretty simple plot, and luckily it doesn’t beat you over the head with it. You play as Raven, a contract sniper assassin who is hired to take out a series of contracts in the Middle East. The game takes place along the Lebanese and Syrian borders where you must stop a criminal syndicate by blowing their leaders brains into tiny chunks. That’s about the gist of it since it never really tries to be anything more than what it is, and I’m fine with that. Give me some well done maps, some targets, and let me do the rest.
There are two different kind of mission structures that are featured and for each one a certain loadout will benefit. Each mission has its own map and set of targets and challenges. Depending on the type of missions, the maps are structured very well to fit the gameplay. Long Shot Contracts feature a fairly linear map that will take you to various sniping perches to pick off enemies from afar. You will need to move through various enemy outposts to get to the sniping spots. This means you’ll need to be prepared for long distance and some CQC instances. Classic Contracts put you in a open map with a set of targets that you can take down in whatever order. These maps require more of a traditional stealth type gameplay with a lot of hiding in bushes and closer combat. You won’t be sniping targets from 1000+ meters away here.
The alternating of mission structures gives a nice taste of all sorts of gameplay options. The Classic Contracts of course gives more freedoms in the type of gameplay you want. Since the map is more of a sandbox in these contracts you can go in loud with shotguns, grenades, and C4. Or you can be a bushes shadow and strike quietly with CQC, a bow, or throwing knives. There are no shortage of options here. However, there will be challenges to complete that will grant you extra money and those will have you play a certain way. You won’t be able to get every challenge in a single run, so pick the ones you want go after that fit your playstyle. For example, there is a challenge to shoot grenades on enemies belts, but if you do that you’ll likely not get the challenge for no alerts.
Long Shot Contracts is where I believe Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 shines and sets itself apart from other action stealth games. These contracts feature extremely long sniping that requires specific loadouts and ammo. These maps are more linear, but you will need to fight your way through checkpoints of enemies to get to sniping spot. If you wanted to you can even sneak past the enemies. Once you’re at your sniping spot, the game changes drastically. No longer are you moving from shadow to shadow, instead you’re scanning, observing, and planning. Tagging enemies, watching their patterns, finding things that can be used as a distraction to isolate a soldier is essential. Similar to Hitman there are opportunities to take out targets using the environment. These methods look like accidents and won’t raise the alarms.
The maps are planned out so that you can take out the entire base without being alerted. Most of the time it’s by using distractions or by using specialty ammo. Armor piercing rounds are great for taking out targets that are behind thin metal or wood barriers. Luring rounds lets out a signal that will get a guard to go investigate allowing you to pick him off. EMP rounds will disable vehicles, cameras, and any electronics within an area. Agile rounds remove any wind or bullet drop modifiers and will shoot exactly where your reticle is. Tagging and Explosive rounds are pretty self explanatory.
I’ve become obsessed with doing perfect no-alert contracts because I love finding all the ways to take out enemies quietly. This isn’t a walk in the park because you have to be aware of all enemies and their site lines. On top of that general accuracy plays a massive part since you have to take into consideration bullet drop and wind. Once you tag an enemy you will get their distance so you can set your scope correctly.
Using the notches on the scope to help get accurate positioning. If the enemy is 1282 meters away you can se your scope to 1300 and use the notches to measure up. You then have to consider the wind speed and direction, again by using notches on the scope depending on the wind speed. On easier difficulties there will be a little dot that will show you where your bullet is going to land if you find this too difficult.
Completing contracts and challenges grants you perk points and money to spend on upgrades and weapons. There are four development paths to choose from: Mask and Recon, Support and Stealth, Drone and Turret, and Equipment and Gadgets. Each of these have three upgrade paths with some having branching choices to target more of your playstyle. Money will allow you to purchase new weapons, gadgets, and utility items. Unlocking a new long distance heavy sniper with a extra long scope can make a world of difference on your next Long Shot Contract. Unlocking the bow and drone can make recon and stealth much easier.
The game isn’t perfect, however. No game breaking bugs or glitches and it does run really well, but there are some issues in AI and design. Now, for the most part the level designs are well done, offering a few diverse locations. Deserts, forest, and man made bunkers. The issue with the design is that none of it is really interesting. It all feels very familiar and this can lead to some gameplay fatigue. It’s laid out well from a gameplay perspective, but it wasn’t fun to explore. This could also be because the gameplay outside of the long distance sniping feels pretty generic. It’s not at all bad, but it feels like any other action stealth game.
The AI is also kind of a spaz and doesn’t make sense when it wants to be hardcore or dumb as rocks. During Long Shot Contracts you can be 1300+ meters away from an enemy, but if you alert them they auto snap to your position and can land shots. During Classic Contracts you can drop an enemy five feet from his buddy and they won’t notice. I’m sure it’s difficult to program an AI that will still be a threat from 1300+ meters away, but there has to be something better than a soldier firing a rusty AK-47 and hitting me.
Visually Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 is fine, it won’t blow your socks off, but there is nice detail here. Weapon and character models are done well, and the gore effects are chunky and gross. When the slow motion shots happen there is a nice level of up close detail as you blow up a dudes head like an M-80 in a watermelon. My biggest let down for the visuals are environments. Not that they aren’t well detailed, they just aren’t exciting or interesting to roam about.
Sound design is fairly basic here, nothing really stands out. Soundtrack is minimally there, but during gameplay it is silent. Various sound effects are reproduced nicely, however. Sniper shots, explosions, tanks, enemy chatter, and the various footsteps depending on the floor. There just isn’t anything sound design wise that really stood out to me other than the slow motion gore effects. That gore pop when the head explodes is sadistically satisfying.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 is a game designed for my taste. It offers me a buffet of different gameplay options, tech, stealth opportunities, and sniping that I love. It mixes the action stealth gameplay and long distance sniping simulation very well, and while it may not be super exciting, it gives methodical players like myself something to obsess over. With five maps, twenty-one contracts, and a ton of challenges and bounties, there is plenty of content here.
Visuals aren’t bad, but nothing really stood out and wowed me. Weapon and character models are well done, but the locations didn’t feel exciting.
The locations may not feel exciting, but the level designs are very well done. The long distance sniping is the star here, while questionable AI brings it down.
The sound design doesn’t make an impact at all outside of the sniping gun fire and the gore effects. The slow motion shots have a satisfying sound effect.
Fun Factor: 9.0
There is no other series out right now that does long distance sniping, and Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 does it well. When the game focuses on long distance sniping it is a blast.
Final Verdict: 8.0
Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 is available now on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC.
Reviewed on Xbox Series X.
A copy of Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 was provided by the publisher.