Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 is a sniper simulation that makes all the very complicated factors of hitting a target 1000m away with a long gun feel as easy as using the right gear for the job, and making good decisions when it counts. In my time playing the demo, I found that the mix of tried and true military shooter mechanics and open-ended assassination goals that test your creativity and timing, a la Hitman, made a solid first impression.
Contracts 2 picks up where the first left off, putting you in the shoes of stoic operator Raven and dropping you into exotic locations with a list of names to cross off, one shot at a time. The sequel spices up the formula a bit, emphasizing the “long” in long range by creating huge maps specifically designed for making tough shots from great lengths. In my hands-on, I got to get down and dirty in the desert region of Zindah Province, where three bad guys needed to be terminated with extreme prejudice.
My journey through Zindah had a reliable rhythm. First, I had to navigate through mountain paths and past guard patrols to get to the sniping position. This largely meant I was crouch-walking from bush to bush, looking for high cliffs and perches to get a proper lay of the land between me and my destination. Using the binoculars, you can scan points of interest like enemy soldiers, exploding barrels, or fuse boxes. Marking them not only puts their position in your HUD, but it also gives you their relative distance and enemy type, if applicable.
From there, you have two options: attempt to stealthily circumvent the road blockades or bases that spot the mountain range, or tear through them. The long way is often the safer way, but there are plenty of benefits to poking around these outposts. Potential intel about the target ahead can be just a laptop hack away. The locals might have some valuable information about their comrades in arms that you can interrogate out of them. Eliminating enemies in these checkpoints can be a good way to ensure they don’t become reinforcements that get called should something go wrong later.
Stealth is an option in these more intimate scenarios, but without being able to see things like view cones on your mini map, it can be tough to know at what range an enemy can spot you at. When they do spot you and the time to go loud arises, the standard military shooter arsenal of shotguns, automatic rifles, and grenades neither disappoints or overly impresses. Sniping is where it’s at in Contracts 2, as the name implies. The running and gunning feels competent and familiar, but bullets do feel a bit more lethal here than other shooters. Being outnumbered by enemies, who fight fiercely and intelligently to bring you down, is a harrowing experience; the AI puts up a fierce challenge.
Some of your accessories and support tech really do stand out, though. My favorite so far is the automated sniper turret that you can set up to snipe marked targets on your command, allowing you to be your own cover fire. A flying drone also helps scout areas from a bird’s eye view, making sure you never miss enemies hiding out in those hard to reach places.
The shooting perch for the first target, enemy weapons dealer Antwan Zarza, required a version of the same sort of recon, with a few more wrinkles. On top of the guards, I found plenty of other objects to shoot, like cranes suspending heavy loads and lighting placements. These can all play into the various ways you can execute the target. You can catch Zarza while he’s out in the open for a clean shot, or you can clip a nearby explosive as he passes by.
You can make your own opportunities as well if you’re particularly observant. At this same site, men are working on a building’s cooling system on the roof. Shooting the guards and the panel they were tinkering with caused the fire sprinklers to malfunction in the building below, drenching all of the materials in Zarza’s office. When he runs up to salvage whatever he can, he conveniently does so right in front of a big open window. This sort of clever scenario design extends to each of the region’s three targets.
Of Contracts 2’s five total maps, three of them will be centered around these dynamic sniping scenarios. The other two are so-called “large sandbox style” maps more reminiscent of the original Contracts, which put you on the ground far closer to these targets, allowing you to infiltrate their hideouts and eliminate them more personally.
Once you do the deed, you are encouraged to replay maps to find hidden collectibles or complete new challenges. Challenges will reward you with in game currency to upgrade your gear by killing targets in specific ways. They can be super tricky (I was stumped more than once by a few of them), but they add a great amount of replayability for completionists and score chasers alike.
Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 looks to be in a great position to push the kill-puzzle subgenre made popular recently by games like Hitman into a new direction. It launches on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation platforms on June 6th.
Jarrett Green is an expert video game marksman. Talk games with him on Twitter at @jarrettjawn.