Move over, SNIPER ELITE, Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts is in for the kill… Seriously, I love SNIPER ELITE and always will, but Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts has stolen my heart when I first discovered it in 2021. It’s been a while since I had that much fun with one game over just a couple of days, but especially the second installment, Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 (2021), managed that quite easily.
Mild SPOILERS ahead!
The story and characters
After the Seeker, the protagonist of Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts (2019), you play as Raven. Another code name for another faceless operative. BUT. There is more. And I love it. Raven is a long shot specialist, which means he is a sniper first and foremost. Which is why in this game you really need to pay attention to your contracts. There are two kinds: classic contracts, which means you will get along just fine with your standard loadout (a silenced rifle, the compound bow or a SMG, a silenced pistol and whatever tools you feel you need), and long shot contracts, which require a heavy sniper rifle and will have the enemy zeroing in on you if you give up your position. Which is a challenge. And I am here for it.
Back to characters…
Raven is being briefed on his missions by a faceless voice he addresses as Control, but over the course of the game these two develop a relationship that reminded me just a little bit of Adam Jensen and Frank ‘Francis’ Prittchard of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. And I was, quite frankly, blown away by how much relationship the writers squeezed into this very simple story. Kudos to them.
Apart from that, the story is your usual one. You basically are deployed on missions in varying areas to sabotage and assassinate. Which is fine with me, that is why I enjoy HITMAN, after all.
Locations are gorgeous
As with the first installment, the locations are all gorgeous. You will mostly be traversing across deserts, but there are some mountains thrown in there for diversity. There are also military installations you will need to sabotage or infiltrate. Which is great.
Visibility is realistic. In the desert, silhouettes will shimmer and change, enemies will deploy smoke grenades to confuse your aim, the vegetation will be in your way. So, best keep on your toes! This is why I love this series, by the way, the first person perspective makes the operations that much more challenging.
Also, locations offer varying entry points to your objectives (except for Long Range Contracts), so you can play it very quiet, if you want to, which is what I strive for in my current playthrough.
While you do have the option of using fast travel points, I believe exploration is key. That way, you can unlock shortcuts that will make taking out primary targets that much more easy!
The Long Shot Contracts are a different cup of tea. Time it wrong and you will have both snipers and spotters/mortars breathing down your neck. Then there is this one mission – an overwatch mission – that is so, so intense! I loved that one very much.
No changes here. You have the regular grunts, spotters and heavies, as well as officers. And snipers, of course. Mechanical opponents are cameras and turrets (no drones, this time). The cameras can be deactivated by shooting them with a silenced rifle or pistol. And turrets have a limited field of vision. All mechanical elements can be disabled with either EMP bullets or EMP grenades. You can outfit your rifle with special bullet slots to accomodate EMP bullets and I highly recommend that. Also, equip armor piercing rounds to take out heavies, unless you have a heavy duty rifle equipped.
Then, there are your primary targets. Some are heavies, some are grunts, some are snipers. So, you will have to adapt and prepare for any eventuality. Which is also great.
Loadout And Skills
I finally found the compound bow! Pretty sure I could have purchased my favorite short-range weapon (from Sniper Ghost Warrior 3) in the first installment, too. But, of course, the bow is only useful during the Classic Contracts. You will definitely need an SMG during the Long Shot Contracts, as you will usually not have much room to go to ground.
Your loadout is pretty standard. You have a primary weapon, which is usually your rifle, a secondary weapon, SMG or bow, and side arm, which can be any type of pistol. All these can be customized, for example with a silencer, larger ammo capacity, different ammo types and so forth. You will have a number of tools at your disposal, a drone, explosives, throwing knives, med packs and adrenalie shots. While I usually equip the drone, I never use it in this game, and you really don’t have to. I remember that I thought it essential in Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, but I probably just have become better at playing tactical shooters since then.
As for Skills, you can outfit your operative with better sight, armor and speed, which is great.
Playing On Different Difficulties Is Fun!
There are four difficulties: Marksman, Sharpshooter, Veteran Sniper and Deadeye. I started the first playthrough on Sharpshooter-difficulty and am now on Veteran Sniper-difficulty for my second playthrough. With each difficulty, sniping becomes more challenging.
Contrary to SNIPER ELITE you will have the HUD aiding you a little more in determining distance, wind speed and bullet drop, even on higher difficulties (though I have yet to play on the Deadeye-difficulty). On Veteran Sniper-difficulty I first had to get used to making the most of the scope. But once I did, taking a shot became so much easier.
Also, the higher the difficulty, the more enemies there are, and they will also move around more. So, all I can recommend is to be aware of your surroundings at all times, no matter the difficulty.
The Missions Are Great
The maps are divided into Classic Contracs and Long Shot Contracts. Following the main missions after completing your tutorial map, you will unlock four missions PACKED with objectives and challenges, and two follow-up missions, one a Classic Contract, the other a Long Shot Contract.
Be aware of what is required before you dive into the mission, as you will need to adapt your Loadout, or, at least, you rifle. A Light or Medium Rifle will serve in the Classic setting, but you will need a Heavy Rifle for Long Shot Contracts.
As the Seeker before him, Raven is tasked with eliminating targets and sabotaging an oppressive and dangerous regime. There are numerous targets – usually two to three prime targets and two bounties – per map. Taking them down is quite challenging. And the higher the difficulty, the more enemies you will have to take out on your way to achieving your goals.
The Classic Contracts offer big maps that are fun to explore – including climbing and navigating mine fields – , while the Long Shot Contracts confine the sniper to a specific region that allows him to take on all targets from a distance. That might sound boring, but the specific long shots are fun to complete and there are enemies patrolling the heights that are eager to take out our hero. Mines and an SMG are your friend here. There was one Long Shot Contract (the overwatch mission) I played on Veteran Sniper-difficulty and it was really hard for me, so I ran out of bullets in the end. Luckily, the game is forgiving and all ended well.
The Classic Contracts will have you infiltrate military installations that are usually very heavily guarded. Here, stealth is key. Luckily, Raven’s suit can be modified to offer better camouflage. Best invest in that.
Mount Kuamar: In the second story mission Raven has to scout Mount Kuamar, a mountain forest, in order to uncover information and take out a foreign national who is financing Kuamar’s regime. Infiltrating his stronghold is a fun challenge and I really needed to remain patient during my second playthrough as I wanted to be as stealthy as possible. Unfortunately, while exfiltrating I slipped up and had to battle my way out… Also, sabotage is on the menu, which requires some tricky shooting.
Rashida Dalat: This is the last story mission. Set in an arid desert region, Raven has to take out the head of state in their stronghold – a tough one – among other challenges.
Temple Complex: This mission has Raven tie up some loose ends after the main story and it is my absolute favorite map. Also a desert setting, this mission will have Raven asassinate a crime lord and a rogue scientist, recover samples, steal a cell phone from an underground lab and eliminate two bounties.
Long Shot Contracts
Zindah Province: The first story mission requires Raven to take out three of the key players. You will have fun setting up your kills, and complete a number of challenges. My finest accomplishment so far was blowing up a target while he was trying to escape. Also, taking down a fellow sniper just as he took aim at me was fun, too.
Tajmid Heights: The third story mission starts with the infamous overwatch-rescue. Clearing a way for the escapee, you will also have to keep an eye on your primary target and take them our before they can get to the man you are protecting.
Maladh Wadi: This is another follow-up mission and pretty much my favorite. You have to eliminate two targets and I made the mistake of not taking out all enemies before climbing up to my sniper nest to take out the first one and had them breathe down my neck once I had accomplished the assassination. Plus some more… Remember, this is a Long Shot Contract, so no silent sniping from a distance as you make your way to the next overlook. Once you take that shot, be prepared to defend your position.
I really enjoyed Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts, but Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 upped the ante, as they say. It is fun to play, a challenge and my surprise discovery of the year, to be sure. I’d even go so far as to claim that this franchise has become a clear rival to SNIPER ELITE.
So I am looking forward to both SNIPER ELITE 5 in 2022 and Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 3 whenever it will be released.
Until then, keep on playing!