When Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts launched in late 2019, I was pleasantly surprised. CI Games’ offering provided a solid experience that combined stealth and FPS action, somewhat reminiscent of the Metal Gear Solid, Hitman, and Sniper Elite franchises. All Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 had to do was follow its predecessor’s formula and add some improvements where necessary.
Unfortunately, the recently released sequel does regress ever so slightly. It mixes sandbox-style exploration with instances that make you feel that it’s an “arcadey” shooter. Certain functions also feel a bit restrictive. Still, Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 manages to retain the thrills and ridiculous kill shots that fans have come to enjoy.
The deserts of Kuamar
In Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2, you play as an operative named Raven. You’re stuck somewhere in the deserts of Kuamar, a fictional country in the Middle East. The new leader, Bibi Rashida, has recruited a cabal of followers and cohorts to remain in power. Worse, there’s information about the torturing of prisoners and nuclear weapon stockpiles.
The plot isn’t the game’s strongest point, that’s for sure. The narrative itself is fairly simple, with the typical themes of covert ops and interventionism. There’s even a particular level where your ideals for Kuamar’s future don’t go according to plan, and Raven has to swoop in once more.
Taking out your targets in Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2
Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2, like its predecessor, allows you to explore a semi-open-world environment. The campaign has five levels set in towering mountains, narrow passageways, fortresses, caverns, woods, and military bases all rendered in striking visual detail.
Eventually, you’ll find your assassination targets and other mission objectives. Upon completing all the main objectives, you’ll clear the level and unlock the next one. Naturally, you can still do other optional tasks and challenges, such as killing two enemies with a single shot or using objects in the environment such as explosives to get the job done. There are even bounties that present new opponents hiding at specific parts of the map. Bounty targets are flanked by other soldiers and a “rival” sniper watching the area.
To help you with all of these tasks, Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 gives you a plethora of options from multiple sniper rifles and secondary weapons (including a bow) to gadgets such as drones, gas mines, and automated turrets. If you’ve played the previous game, then you’ll likely be familiar with the tools of the trade as these items function in a similar manner.
The sequel treads on familiar ground, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You’ll still mark hostiles on the map, zap electronic panels with your drone, place down traps or turrets, and throw grenades or C-4 if you feel like it. As for sniping, you’ll take note of the target’s elevation, distance, and the direction of the wind. A little red dot even denotes if your shot is on the mark. Fire away and bullet cam might trigger, showcasing a gory spectacle in clear view.
Sandbox exploration versus long shot sniping
One of the facets I loved about 2019’s Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts was the sandbox nature of completing your missions. In the previous game, all levels in the campaign allowed you to roam around to find multiple ways to assassinate your enemies. There are moments when you can freely snipe foes who are hundreds of meters away, or you can get up close and personal. However, in Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2, only a couple of missions follow this concept. For instance, the massive map in the Mount Kuamar mission easily reminded me of Altai Mountains in the previous game. Both levels have wide-open areas, forests, multiple passageways, and even a large facility. You can easily feel lost and overwhelmed (in a good way).
As for the rest of the missions in this offering’s campaign, they are considered “long shot contracts.” It means that exploration is relegated to crossing a small outpost or pathway until you reach a sniper’s nest. From there, you’ll scan facilities and soldiers from a distance (usually 1,000 meters away), making sure to find your targets. You still have a few decisions to make, at least when it comes to how you’ll finish off your foe (i.e., using the environment to distract them or eliminating them as they’re escaping as part of certain challenges). Sadly, because of overreliance on this somewhat arcade-style sniping bonanza, the sandbox nature feels almost tacked on.
Just a little off the mark
The problems are slightly exacerbated by a poorly conceived autosave system when combined with multiple challenges. Don’t get me wrong, having more challenges nowadays means easily acquiring extra cash/tokens to purchase weapons and gadgets. Still, there are several challenges that do require you to line up your shots perfectly, all while patiently waiting for enemy movement.
With a restrictive autosave system, one mistake can cause you to retry the entire endeavor. In fact, the only time I remember the system working in my favor was during the final mission. A jamming device kept removing the “tag” on my main assassination target. Each time I tagged the enemy, I’d get a new autosave (which was neat).
To be fair, the qualms I have with Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 are fairly minor. I surmise that it’s up to CI Games to decide on which design principle it’d follow: long-range snipe-fests or fully explorable levels. At the very least, long shot missions do offer a change of pace, making campaign progression feel varied.
Overall, the action in Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 remains thrilling and exciting. Stealthily completing objectives and making it back to the extraction point feels very rewarding. Likewise, there’s a rush of adrenaline followed by an “Oh, that’s gross!” moment whenever bullet cam is triggered. In any case, if you plan on picking up the game, you can check out our guides and features hub.