Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 PS3 review – Stealth failure shoots itself in the foot

As this generation nears its end (sob), devs are pushing good ol’ PS3 to the limit. Tomb Raider, God Of War: Ascension and Crysis 3 are all happily responsible for the eyeball-gasming ‘couldn’t it have always looked like that?’ moments we’ve had in recent months. Then we come to the CryEngine 3-powered Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2. I’ve seen Lego games less blocky and Jeremy Kyle guests more attractive than this juddering pile of special ops action.

Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 PS3 review

Before you’ve even touched the trigger or gazed down your scope, it’s evident this handling of the engine that brought us Crysis 2 and 3 is the equivalent of a work-experience mechanic getting his oily paws on your Lamborghini. As you appear behind the eyes of main skull-piercer Captain Cole Anderson, on the hunt for a biological weapons dealer, you can’t help but be distracted by the way your spotter is moving. Is he having a fit?

Fellow characters are a blurry mess of failed physics who you can’t really look at too closely without feeling a bit sick thanks to the lagging framerate. Add in the papery environments that seem to be trying their very best to be as PS2-like and non-interactive as possible, and Ghost Warrior 2 is a hideously underwhelming visual experience, whether you’re exploring Burmese jungles or the ruined Bosnian city of Sarajevo.

By its very essence, sniping is fun. Lying hidden in the shadows, hovering a reticule over an unsuspecting faraway victim, waiting for the perfect moment and then squeezing the trigger button is a simple head-popping joy that perhaps we shouldn’t admit to enjoying quite so much. The sniping here is solid, and the quest for realism means wind and ballistics are taken into account for each shot.

Thankfully, if you’d rather not spend your time thinking about the weather, a red circle on easy and normal difficulties indicates your bullet’s trajectory. Yet where last year’s Sniper Elite V2 delivered a deliciously explosive amoral bullet cam, the occasional killcam here is a briefly rewarding affair marred by an HD bullet becoming a pixelated mess as it hits its target.

The sniping equivalent of Simon Says, Anderson is constantly following the orders of his superiors and fellow soldiers. Apart from feeling horribly forced between bouts of cheesy machismo (“This is a sh*t sandwich, gentlemen, and you are taking the first bite”), it means that few levels give you much choice of how to tackle each enemy-packed location.

You won’t want to experiment and find out what happens if you do go in all gun(s) blazing, though, as the shuddering save icon is a rare occurrence and a mistake can often set you back 15 minutes of stealthy gameplay. Taking on unpredictable AI becomes a horribly frustrating experience as a quick blast of machine-gun fire is all that lies between you and a game over screen, and – provided you haven’t switched your PS3 off in rage – you find yourself grudgingly following the instructions just to get to the next stage.

If you’re looking for a satisfying sneaky experience, then last year’s Sniper Elite delivers far more than Ghost Warrior 2, which is already destined to be filler for the pre-owned shelves at your local retailer. The odd joyful kill can’t make up for its appalling visuals, and this frustratingly hollow experience misses its target entirely.

Our Score

Score: 4