When City Interactive first released the original Sniper: Ghost Warrior for Xbox 360 a couple of years ago (and later for the PlayStation 3), the game was met with harsh criticism. Journalists were quick to point out the muddy visuals, lacking gameplay (it was almost too tough for its own good) and somewhat iffy storyline, all of which paled in comparison to superior military shooters. But that isn't stopping the team from trying again with Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2, and even though the sequel has been delayed a number of times (it recently bumped from this month to mid-March), City Interactive is confident that they've addressed the numerous flaws that so many pointed out the first time around.
In the sequel, you take control of private security consultant Captain Cole Anderson, as you're called upon to complete various military missions that take you all over the world, from the urban jungles of Sarajevo to the tropics of Burma and the mountains of Tibet. Unlike most military-based action games, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 relies on you being unnoticed throughout each event, using stealth to your advantage and the power of your sniper rifle to silence those pose a threat to your existence. Though the full storyline wasn't explained, chances are you'll be hunting down more high-profile targets that pose a threat to the world's peace. You know how these maniacal warmongers get.
There are actions that you'll need to perform outside of using your sniper rifle. For instance, in some stages, you'll have to sneak around enemy guards, occasionally performing a silent kill without alerting any other patrols in the area. Obviously you don't want to engage in a full-on firefight, as you're better from a distance than you are with, say, a routine firearm.
Where Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 obviously stays closest to home is using your high-powered gun to pick off enemies from afar. But it's not a matter of just looking down the scope and automatically nailing your target. Like real snipe shooting itself, there are varying degrees you have to weigh down in order to get your shot off accurately.
First off, you have to acknowledge surroundings in the environment. Wind speed and direction can actually make a bit of difference, even when you're firing a high-powered bullet out of the chamber. One slight breeze could easily send it off the mark and flying into a tree. You need to compensate for this by watching a meter and seeing which way it's blowing, and how hard.
Distance also plays a huge part, because the further that your target is out, the more you'll need to adjust for trajectory. For instance, if someone is standing even just a few feet out of range of another target, you'll need to adjust for the additional time that the bullet is going. Breathing rate can also play a huge factor in how successful you are with hitting your shot. Going at a normal rate makes the scope shaky, and not one hundred percent accurate when it comes to aim. You can hold your breath to keep things still, but holding it too long can throw you off if you don't fire, costing you precious seconds in the mission.
It sounds incredibly difficult, and if you're used to whipping out an assault rifle and mowing down a room of bad guys, it is, as it's built more for patience. However, your success is rewarded through the view of a real-time shot, flying out of your gun and ripping into your target to a mystifying slow-motion effect. Even at night, the effect is fun to watch, as you have both night vision and thermo vision goggles to keep your target in range. Watching them collapse means you can move forward with the mission.
Now, if you're worried about muddy environments (like the first game), City Interactive is employing the use of new graphic technology to make it more lifelike than before – CryEngine 3, developed by Crytek. Though we haven't seen enough of the game in action yet to really describe it in detail, it should make sniping much easier than what you had to go through in the first game.
And the game will extent your play time with various rewards, including new rifles to try out and other tools of the trade, as well as competitive multiplayer, in case you feel like lining up someone in your sights or coordinating with your spotter to make sure you're clear to take the shot. Again, we haven't seen it in action, but considering that multiplayer was one of the better components of the first game, it should be even more so this time around.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is going through plenty of speculation, between the worries that it'll be like the original game and its unfortunate delays. However, if it's a realistic sniping experience you want, this might just be the game for you. We'll find out how it fares when it ships for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on March 12th.