Just hear me out for a second. So, Sniper Elite and Hitman meet in a bar and have a few drinks together. It’s all getting a bit amorous as the drinks are flowing. Soldier of Fortune is sitting in the corner thinking “I’m having some of this”. They all go home together after many, many drinks. Nine months later, they give birth to a baby game. And that game is Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2. The Sniper Ghost Warrior series has had more misses than hits over the years, so it doesn’t hurt to take a little inspiration from other stealth games. Especially when you have been lingering long in the shadow of a certain other sniper-based game that I have already mentioned.
Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 – One Shot Too Many, Or Does It Hit The Mark?
Polish developers CI Games has self-published Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2. This is the second game in the Contracts series. The game was released on June 4th, 2021 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC. There was a delayed release for the PlayStation 5 due to technical issues, but that released did come with a free upgrade from the PlayStation 4 version. I will be reviewing the PlayStation 5 version which was eventually released on August 24th, 2021.
If you enjoyed this review, why not check out my previous review for Observer: System Redux? But for now, let’s talk aim, and shoot on straight into Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2.
As the player, you take on the role of Raven, a contract sniper assassin. The Syrian and Lebanese border is where Raven is stationed and his task is to eliminate Bib Rashida, the ruler of Kuamar. Also all the generals, arms dealers, military personnel, and others that are supporting her. But before all that, Raven heads to The Grey Desert for a short but well-constructed tutorial.
Here you will learn about the basics of being a sniper assassin. Ensuring you will be prepared for any eventualities, especially if all does not go to plan. As well as learning about using your scope, tagging enemies and compensation for distance, wind speed and direction, and bullet drop, you will have access to special bullets. Some types of bullets are tagging, armour piercing, EMP, and luring. All very handy in certain situations. Not all weapons allow special bullets, so plan well when choosing your old out.
You also have access to a drone which can be particularly handy for hacking CCTV boxes, luring, or even poisoning enemies. Lastly, you can set up an automatic sniper turret. Tag your enemies and you can set to fire while in a separate location. I personally liked to use it as a defense. Since Raven is a lone wolf and has no spotter, I set it up to watch my six. If I am focused on my objective, enemies who walk within 15 meters of my turret can forget about going home to their families. You don’t want Raven to be spotted at the last minute so just be aware of the enemy’s awareness indicators. If they see you, they will scream and shout, giving away your location.
Moving on from the tutorial it will show you the six locations of which you will carry out your contracts. Once you complete one location it will then unlock the next. You start off in Zindah Province where you will have three targets to eliminate and the satellite antennas to sabotage. You have a basic loadout, to begin with, so you have to work with what you got. Choose your difficulty and off you go. Now you’re in the real world, you’ll have to use all you have learned to achieve your goals.
Stealth attacking NPC’s is great, but it is more beneficial to interrogate them. Here you will learn valuable information about the locations of your enemies for the following location making it easy to track patrol movements. You will stab them in the neck anyway. Just take a moment to listen to their conversations before you do. Often you can learn a bit more about what’s going on. You will also learn a bit about their private lives. The sadist in me quite liked listening to how one troop missed his daughter’s first day of school, so I stabbed him in the neck to make sure he will miss every other day. That’s how it goes if you’re a baddie, sorry mate! The gameplay video below showcases a lot of what you can expect in the game. Here I play until we take out our first target, Antwan Zarza.
The great thing about Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 is how creative you can be with your kills. If you see two guards and want to stay silent, wait until they are parallel in your line of sight and line them up for a double headshot. If going loud is your preference, which really defeats the object in a stealth game, then go for it. Blow up the barrels next to them, but be ready. Other enemies will be aware of your presence, and maybe your location. So be ready.
When it comes to your target, you can take them out in a number of ways. Though I do feel like a little more thought could have been put into the variety of assassinations. That being said, it is still very fun however you do it. Once you have completed that objective, Control will then ask you to head to the exfil point. Here you can carry straight on to the next objective, or change your loadout and apply your upgrade points. I would recommend you do this at every opportunity to make sure you have the right gear for the job.
You are able to purchase various sniper rifles, secondary weapons, and sidearms. All of these will offer up various attachments such as scopes, muzzle brakes, extended mags, and more. All of these scopes are equipped with the Dynamic Reticle System to help with distance. Make sure to experiment as some are suited for long-range and others for short. There are various pieces of equipment to choose from as well suck as anti-personnel mines, drones, warning devices, and other consumables such as throwing knives and frag grenades.
As for the upgrades, I didn’t really find them overly useful. Health and stamina will recharge over time, though you can carry health and stamina packs at the cost of an equipment slot. The upgrades feel quite subtle and I believe I could have finished the game without applying any of them. It’s worth noting that you are permanently equipped with a mask with various helpful features such as night and thermal vision to pick out your targets in the dark. It will also highlight any areas of interest such as strategic points, custom markers, and ledges to aid in your terrain navigation.
Shooting soldiers in the face never gets boring. Though the slo-mo cam is as awesome as it is, it can become a little tiresome at times. Thankfully you can change the frequency of when this happens, though you may not want to because they can be spectacularly gruesome. It’s also super satisfying to secure a kill by blowing a soldier’s leg off at the knee. A nice little nod to the old Soldier of Fortune there.
Within each mission, there are various challenges to do which will require more than one play-through, a good way of keeping you coming back for more.
There are two types of contracts. Your extreme range will have you dealing with the occasional short-range challenge on your way to your sniping location. Here you will be pulling off shots over 1000m away from your target. Then there are the sandbox-style assignments which are more close quarters where short-range rifles will be required and a silenced sidearm.
All of the missions are quite varied which is good. It’s not just a case of shoot this guy and move on to the next. For example, you have to provide overwatch as you help someone escape from imprisonment. How you do it is up to you. Shooting people in the face works, but so does shooting fuse boxes to distract guards and using EMP bullets on turrets.
The adaptive triggers are used fairly well. There is a good level of resistance on the right trigger before you take your shot. There were a few times I was ready to strike and my target had moved so I was able to release without causing a disturbance. It is a similar situation with the aiming on the left trigger. If you depress it until you meet resistance you will be able to aim. This makes it easy to pop in and out of your scope. You don’t even have to depress the trigger all the way down before you take your shot. But bear in mind you will be holding down L3 to steady your breathing and will feel natural to pull the left trigger all the way. For some reason, the adaptive triggers didn’t work all the time though.
I did have a few other issues whilst playing the game. For a start, it crashed after an hour of installing it and would crash every time after. The only way to combat this was to delete the game and install it again, which seemed to fix the problem. Also while using the zoom function on the binoculars or the sniper scope, on a few occasions I wasn’t able to zoom back out until I reloaded a previous save. Slightly annoying if you are onto your primary target. These were really the only problems I encountered in an otherwise very enjoyable game. Sure, the AI can be a bit wonky at times. Being able to see you hidden in a bush from 1km away, or not seeing you stood in their peripheral vision, but it’s still a great game.
Graphics & Audio
There are three graphic settings you can choose from; performance, balanced, and resolution. I chose to play the game favouring performance which runs at 60 frames per second in 2K. The resolution mode is locked at 30 frames per second and will run at 4K.
Graphically it is a stunning game. The environment, although it is just set in the desert is detailed, varied, and looks fantastic. It doesn’t feel stale like some others do and once you head out of the desert and into bases, it can feel like a different game as it becomes close quarters. Seeing someone’s head explode has never looked so delightful. It isn’t the usual display of red mist. You get a detailed view when you shoot off the top of someone’s skull and relieve their central nervous system of their duties as their juicy brain slowly detaches itself and leaves its cranial prison. On the odd occasion, I did see an asset just floating in the air like my warning device. Things like this are just funny more than anything.
The guns sound great as well. Playing this through my surround sound, the bang when let when you fire tickled my feed as the bass rumbled through my ceramic tiles. Sound design is spot on, especially when it comes to hearing distance. Very handy if you are lining up and you suddenly start hearing faint voices of a couple of guys on patrol you missed. If you hear them getting louder, then you need to move and make sure they’re not going home to their families tonight.
Composer Gustavo Coutinho who worked on Payday 2 and Overkill’s The Walking Dead is at the helm for this one. For the small amount of the music there is, it is of middle-eastern influence and constructed with classical orchestration. It works really well for the tone of the game considering where you are, but there isn’t enough of it to make a big impact.
The main campaign will take you no more than 10-12 hours on normal difficulty. There is a massive replayability factor with the challenges which I will keep you going for plenty of hours. Some of these are tied on with trophies as well so completionists out there will likely want to be doing that to obtain the platinum trophy. This is just a single-player game so there is no co-op or competitive multiplayer to talk of. I think this is a good move because I found in previous games like this, multiplayer just didn’t work and would be a waste of time and resources.
Before it gets shot out through my chest, I can put my hand on my heart and say this is the best game of the Sniper series that CI Games has made. Congratulations to them. Do they hit the mark after a long line of mediocre games? Well, it isn’t a headshot, but it definitely kills. It seems they have learned from mistakes and created a pretty good game. Yes, there are a couple of bugs at the time of writing this, but nothing a patch can’t fix. I found myself going to bed late a couple of nights because I wanted to finished one more assignment. And, I will be going back to look at the challenges. I award Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 the Thumb Culture Gold Award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.