Call of Duty Modern Warfare completely redefined the wartime fps. Gamers seeking an orgy of death, mud, blood and bullets were usually catapulted backwards in time to fight as the allies in the second world war because developers were too afraid to put anything in front of your cross hairs other than an Alien, a Demon or a Nazi.
So when Infinity Ward set their bombastic war franchise Call of Duty in the modern day whilst dressing up Hollywood effects as gritty realism, it was like the rules for the fps genre had been completely re-written.
One of the most revered levels of Modern Warfare was All Ghillied Up, this was to be the obligatory stealth level. Just like every single platformer seems to be required to squeeze in an underwater level. With FPS titles developers seem insistent on behaving like angry librarians and ‘shushing’ us for an entire level. Forcing us to undertake laborious tasks as opposed to blowing things up and causing carnage, which we all know are the best bits of games.
‘All Ghillied Up’ was different though, Infinity Ward took away the thinking by giving us a commanding officer to follow. We basically just had to do what the angry soldier told us to and feel like real spec ops officers crawling under lorries, and knifing enemies whose only crime was to have a cheeky cigarette.
Without being forced to look at a radar to check we weren’t encroaching the enemy’s field of vision, or grip the crouch key slowly moving up stairs at a pace that would make a Stenna stair lift look like Concord, players were taken over by a level of tension seldom seen in games. Although Infinity Ward walks players through the level holding them by the hand, it’s a pretty impressive level that drips tension like an M60 spits bullets.
It is abundantly clear that All Ghillied Up had a huge effect on CI games because the Sniper: Ghost Warrior franchise seems to be built entirely around the concept of creating a tense, realistic thrill ride snipe ‘em up.
It is funny how things have changed, I remember when Sniping and Camping were the bane of the online community and how teenage virgins would curse the Sniping Camper for their misfortunes before threatening to locate the Sniper’s home via IP address and do horrible things to their mother.
CI games have cemented what they learnt from their first foray into the sniping action genre when they created the amusing but average game Sniper: Ghost Warrior, and made the just as amusing, yet equally forgettable Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2.
The story is the same sort of nonsense you’d get from one of those action films with a gurning pensioner on the poster. Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Sylvester Stallone have been duped by their best friend who they shared an illustrious career with and now (enter inferiority complex creating Adonis of your choice here,) wants revenge.
While I type this I can’t help but feel like I am being a tad condescending towards SGW2. Action films are perfect escapism, and some are worth watching for the special effects alone. As Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 uses the CryENGINE 3, the same graphical powerhouse used for Nomad’s adventures in Crysis 3, Ghost Warrior 2 looks absolutely stunning.
CI games have also done a pretty good job in pacing the action of SGW2 and play never feels formulaic, despite most levels following the same, sneak in, get the perfect spot, shoot a bunch of guys when the shit hits the fan pattern. There are certainly some brilliant moments and watching the bullet cam after setting up the perfect shot and seeing the bullet fly a mile in a matter of moments before embedding itself in a shower of ‘realistic gore,’ is disturbingly satisfying.
However, Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 is over incredibly quickly, our Steam account measured a little over 4 hours of play before reaching the end of the game. And that was with a fair amount of tea making. This was probably the major factor in SGW2 not feeling repetitive.
The story whilst not being very original, had managed to take a leaf out of CoD’s book and set itself over a period of time and places, as a result each section of the game had its own distinct, if not slightly clichéd feel. This helped give the game a greater feeling of variation.
What CI games seem to promise from their sales bumph on the steam page is that Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 is a sniping simulation that has taken the best elements from Battlefield and Call of Duty and created a thoughtful shooter heavily based in realism.
What they have actually done is made a shallow thrill ride of a title that looks better than most military shooters, but is ultimately forgettable due to the shallow gameplay, and short play time. If you are a PC FPS fan looking for the next ARMA 3 or just have a masochistic love of simulators, then Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 is not for you. Still, if you have fond memories of Crawling around with Captain Price in the undergrowth then I would recommend adding this to your Steam wish list, if it comes up in a sale for £3.99 its worth all 300 and 99 of those pennies.
System: PC (AMD 8320 CPU, AMD ATI 7970 GPU, 8GB RAM)
Bought From: Steam £3.99