Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 is Bangkok Dangerous. It's Wanted, or Walking Tall. It's not got Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie, or Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, but it's that familiar kind of enjoyable, if forgettable, action movie in video game form.
In an industry full of deep, relatable characters, it stars a mask-wearing soldier with no discernible personality, motive, or even a real name. And yet, in my fifteen or so hours playing through its campaign, I chuckled all the way through.
One Shot Plot
If you're looking for any real plot, you're unlikely to find one here. Your character, Raven, is in the Middle East to destabilise a regime by taking out key members of its political structure.
It's a great excuse to hop from location to location, and while it never really escalates any further than generic, sandy terrain and shadowy, metallic installations, there's plenty of detail to be found in each.
What's different here though, in comparison to the previous title, is that you're now sniping targets from over a kilometre away in some instances. There are three of these 'long shot' locations, and they task Raven with clearing out an area to set up his sniper equipment before the game essentially turns into a puzzle box akin to the Sniper Assassin missions in prior Hitman games.
I Can See My House From Here!
These long shot missions force players to account for more severe bullet drop and wind conditions, making them a challenge for even franchise veterans – sure, you could snipe someone from a few hundred metres away before, but can you pop a headshot from another postcode away?
It's not all about laying down fire on enemy troops willy-nilly, either. You'll be shooting control panels to lock down exits, snipe enemies off of buildings so their bodies aren't spotted, and make use of precariously hanging items to complete challenges.
It's tough, too, and unless you've got ice in your veins your plans are likely to go somewhat awry - and developer CI Games is banking on it. The game's save system is designed to make it easy to go back to the start of your long-range lead-throwing liaison, but it's no crutch - so don't expect to whiff a shot and reload a few minutes.
After some practice you can crank out the challenges, sure, but when starting out, you'll need to be adaptable.
Once you do complete those challenges, you'll be rewarded with plenty of unlock options, although many of them feel like they lack utility. Outside of customising an assault rifle with a silencer, I felt like I made my way through with relative ease.
Lacking In Brain Cells BEFORE The Bullet
Aside from the new long shot regions, there are two sandbox areas that'll be familiar in function to anyone that played the underrated Contracts 1.
Here you're free to play stealthily, aggressively, or any combination of the two, and while objectives remain similar to the previous game (kill the target, upload the virus) and more, each location feels massive and ripe for replayability.
Unfortunately, it does also highlight how lacking some of the AI can be. While sneaking through an installation, knifing enemies and silently taking them out with silenced weapons is fun, it's less exciting when you are spotted and enemies start lining up to be shot - along with half a dozen of their colleagues.
Conversely, enemies in long shot missions will attempt to mortar you, but they also have the kind of crack shot aim that makes us wonder why they aren't the stars of the game - especially when they can hit you with relative ease from over a thousand metres away with their assault rifles.
Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 feels like it dovetails with its predecessor nicely like an action movie double-bill. It's got new locations to explore, and long shot locations that add a degree of brainteasing to the otherwise standard-fare shooting, but overall it does what it sets out to do – it's a shooter for those that want to put holes in heads from miles away.
And hey, maybe I'm one of those.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
Reviewed on PC.