Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2

"Stealth. The entire point of a recon sniper.  To be deadly without being seen.  Shoot and blend into your environment.  The modern day ninja as it were.  The ultimate game of hide and seek." 

"Raise the difficulty only slightly and despite remaining perfectly off the grid and out of sight, you’ll still find your every slightest movement amplified to the world. In fact, I will go ahead and warn any perfectionists reading this that if you feel the need to achieve the perfect stealth kill each time with your rifle, you're going to become very good friends with the save/load game button. You can line up a perfect shot, hold your breath, fire your silenced rifle, and the moment the guard’s body hits the ground the ENTIRE  BLOODY PLANET IS AWARE OF YOUR EXACT LOCATION AND WILL FIRE 10,000 ROUNDS OF RIFLE FIRE AT YOU AT ONCE."

        Why yes, those should sound familiar, especially to you ardent fans who've read all my reviews (all 6 of you).  My review of the first Sniper: Ghost Warrior really tore into the lack of balance in stealth elements and obscene difficulty. With Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2, it's as if City Interactive read the above lines and decided to take THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE APPROACH. I have a lot of experience in playing scout recon/sniper with FPS games, especially in the few sniper "simulators" that are out there. But that shouldn't mean that I can play the entirety of Ghost Warrior 2 on the highest difficulty with 90% or more accuracy in every single level...on the first play through. I'm not kidding! I didn't even expect this to happen! I only started at such a difficulty to give myself a bit of a laugh. I mean hey, if the difficulty in the first game was ridiculous, I can only imagine what an improved and battle-tested AI would be in the sequel! So let's start the first level, get absolutely trampled, have a laugh, then restart and actually play. Only I finished the 100% completion (including the always stupid "collect the somehowsignificant tokens we've hidden to add game time)...with 92% accuracy...and taking no damage. At first, I sat back and thought, "Man, have I really improved that much? It has been quite a long time since the first game was released. Well, let's load the first game back up and play a little of it on the same difficulties, make a fair compariAND THERE GOES MY LEG YAY!". 

I'm going to thuper kill him. Theriously Diaz.

        I couldn't believe it. The game has really been dumbed down! And the real kicker is that nothing else has changed! NOT A BLASTED THING. The levels are just as linear as before, the environments are the same, even the rifles are a bloody joke. All throughout the game, you have the option to pick-up a Dragunov from a fallen soldier. Maybe it's an improvement from your starting rifle? Nope! The sights aren't near as accurate to use and most of the time you'll need to keep the silencer in order to maintain your stealth. So maybe the damage is better, as a trade-off for the lack of noise suppression? Wrong! Damage is the same throughout, especially for the killshots you're aiming for. The scope magnification? The amount of ammunition in a clip? The colored stickers on the stock? I can say variations of no in only so many ways. So yeah, you'll pretty much always stick with the starting rifle, unless you feel the strange need to sneak behind a man and pop him with your pistol. Granted this is a legitimate tactic as it not only conserves your rifle ammunition but it also allows you to get up-close observations of your surroundings, especially in those moments when night-vision is needed and the coloring now matches the surrounding foliage, giving your enemy even more camouflage. But heck, that's what the pistol is for! Why would you ever want to use your scoped rifle from a perfectly dark and well hidden vantage point when you could instead just hike across the creaking wooden bridge and bust a cap in thug Joe?  REAL SNIPERS ONLY POLISH THEIR EQUIPMENT.

There you are! Now if I shimmy down this ledge, crawl across the road, work my way around the building...
        So by now you may have noticed my lack of details in aspects such as controls or the physics with the actual sniping. To be honest, there's really nothing to say about them as they're pretty much duplicates from the first game. It's a little sluggish, but still overall fairly simple. At the highest difficulty you won't have the little red circle helper dancing around your scope, indicating the compensations for wind and bullet drop. Otherwise, he's there to help whether you like it or not.
        Now here is something I have to commend Sniper Elite: V2. Not a perfect game by any means, but it did have a unique feature that allowed you to set the difficulty of the AI separately from the level of realism you wish to have with your sniping experience. You could have the helper dot available as you fight through mutant Nazoviets, or you could give your focus on the physics of the scope with absolutely no help against an enemy that needs his squad leader to demonstrate proper procedure for blinking. With Ghost Warrior 2, it's just a tad more basic in customization. I guess you could say that difficulty lies in knowing which scope you're actually using, since the level of magnification and power of rifle affects the tic interval on your scope. Now, it's not like I would particularly want an in-depth explanation of my rifle scope each time I started a level, but a little journal entry or blip of info in the mission briefing would've been nice. Certainly would've saved me from having to draw crude scopes and write in that each large tic was 100m for rifle A, 75m for rifle B, etc. No, that's obsessive! Either you have little numbers indicated on your scope so you can figure out your shot while in the moment, or you at least given an indication to what you'll be dealing with.  The best part is, even on the missions when I realized that my rifle was at some wonky interval and not the basic 100m distance I had been using, my accuracy never drops below 90%. I deliberately missed several shots in order to figure out where to friggin' aim, and it was still ok! Expert level for only the really experienced players. Ha! Imagine coming to an amusement park horror house and reading a disclaimer that anyone with heart conditions or certain phobias shouldn't consider entering because of the extreme use of scare tactics. You're excited, your heart is racing, you can't wait to see what nightmares or ideas they have! This could be one of those places where the actor is dressed up in some professional quality outfit and prop weapon whom will chase you after you walk in on him sawing through the leg of a screaming victim. The wait is over, it's your turn to walk! You round the corner and...BLEGH! Count Chocula is standing in a room, playing with a yo-yo. Elaborate set-up for a lame comparison joke, right? The same can be asked of Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2.

Stahp. Moveng.

OH! THE CONCLUSION! Ok, so story wise this plays out like any action movie of the 80's and 90's. Guy is in jungle, guy finds super evil men. Guy flashbacks to his previous missions in Russia. Guy gets revenge. Guy's buddy asks him if anybody is waiting for him back home. Guy says "my rifle is my best friend, it is my life" because I guess that was the deep meaning behind this or something. I don't know, no one cares, helicopter into sunset, the end.

The Colonel's Conclusion:

            Overall, it's just a giant disappointment. Once again, there's so few games available that are geared for a tactical scout sniper experience, you'll probably end up picking this up during a Steam sale. And you'll play it. And you'll see exactly what I mean. The only redeeming factor in this sequel are the missions where you're in a nest position and there's a .50cal waiting for you. It's really unfortunate you only got to use that scoped cannon a few times in the game because those were pretty rad (yes, I'm bringing rad back. Fight me.)
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