Sniping has to be one of the most challenging genres for gaming. Get it wrong, and you’re stuck with a boring simulator of marksmanship that seldom has moments of excitement. Get it right, and you’ve got a game that balances explosive headshots with moments of pure tension as you switch between hunter and hunted behind enemy lines.
At one point, developer CI Games went for broke with Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, a game that was met with a resounding meh and resulted in the studio going back to the drawing board. A few years later, and CI bounced back with Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts, a game that doubled down on the knife-edge thrill of being a sniper and narrowed its focus through the scope of its eagle-eyed killer for hire.
Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 doesn’t stray too far away from that formula, zooming in further on the various elements that makes sniping so exhilarating and checking for wind direction before squeezing the trigger. It’s a game that has undeniably also pinched some inspiration from the current kings of the genre, Rebellion’s Sniper Elite and IO Interactive’s Hitman, taking a dash of those games and sprinkling over its own product.
And it works beautifully while still retaining its own signature identity, as the latest Contracts game in the Sniper Ghost Warrior series mixes near-future warfare gadgets within massive sandboxes and a straight shot to the target. If you can find them that is. SGWC2 single-player campaign takes place in a fictional Middle-Eastern country, run by bastards for bastards who have long been overdue for some lead-based retribution.
That’s where you come into the picture, but the beauty of SGWC2 is that the game is about the journey, not just the destination that’s punctuated with an exclamation mark of head-exploding gore. Each level has a series of targets and objectives, freedom to tackle them in any way you see fit, and numerous chances to bugger up when the aggressive enemy AI catches your scent in the air.
SGWC2 may feel like a standard FPS at first, but it’s not long before you realise that discretion is the order of the day. Sure, you can take down a few soldiers easily enough with some assault rifle offense, but that just opens the door to everyone else in the vicinity arriving in force. Much like its subject matter, SGWC2 is a game about subtlety, surveying the land, and planning your moment to strike.
There’s a predatory element at play here, with each of the various levels having numerous challenges and bounties to unlock that rewards you with cash to buy new gear. More hardware, more options, better sniper. Moving between enemy positions, taking your time, and using a backpack of gadgets that leans towards Tom Clancy and the Ghost Recon Future Soldier tech kit is just one half of the equation.
When you’re finally in position, ready to take your shot? Sniper Elite is pure precision and lethality in every pull of the trigger. Unlike its contemporaries, SGWC2 leans far closer to the realistic side of long-distance shooting. Not only are you lining up a shot, you’re taking various other elements into account, adjusting multiple parts of your scope and zeroing in on a target, eventually culminating in a moment where a bullet makes their head look like a watermelon that has run afoul of Gallagher.
There’s more to this side of SGWC2 than just some nimble aiming though. Targets are often on the move or hidden in other buildings, and it’s up to you to figure out how to lure and set them up for that all-important killshot, resulting in the signature sniping mechanics becoming a puzzle box of bullets and opportunity. Various bullets and gadgets that you unlock can hold the key to victory, and there’s always more than one way to approach any situation.
Some frustrating checkpoint issues still remain in the game’s DNA though, and SGWC2’s map system could use some further refinement to better lay out a path that players can explore on their way to the next target. SGWC2’s narrow focus on further refining its existing mechanics also means that it has blinkers on when it comes to making its world more interesting, although points for effort by making soldiers have interesting conversations that’ll make you briefly reconsider whether or not you’ll stick a knife in their throats. Briefly. I’m terrible.
Last Updated: June 9, 2021