E3 2011: Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2

QUICKTAKE: Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is still in a very early state, but I had a chance to swing by developer City Interactive's E3 2011 booth for a closed-door tech demo to get a better idea what improvements and additions are in store. Sniper 2 puts players in the stealthy boots of an ex-Delta Force sniper turned private security consultant named Captain Cody "Sandman" Anderson. Throughout the course of the campaign, players will guide "Sandman" through levels set in four different environments, and help him ventilate the craniums of numerous distant enemies.

Driveable vehicles are just some of the new additions included in Sniper 2.

THE DEMO: Before the presentation began, I was told that the live demo (and associated mission) I was being shown was not representative of final in-game content, but was instead put together to show off the new engine and some of Sniper 2's new features. The demo itself consisted of two levels (one daytime, and one at night) set in the Himalayas around an old Buddhist temple. "Sandman" and his AI-controlled spotter dispatched several targets along the way, including an in-flight chopper pilot. Some close-range stealth kills and a couple of vehicle-based sections (both new to the series) were also shown, as well as some new infrared goggles that make night-sniping a bit more manageable. DETAILS: The most instantly noticeable improvement over the first game is that Sniper 2 is being built using CryEngine 3. Even in it's early state of development, Sniper 2 already looks significantly better than its predecessor. Though both levels I saw were set in the Himalayas, I was told that players would also be sniping in levels set in South American jungles, the Arctic, and even in the urban environment of Sarajevo. As in the first game, things like location, wind speed, breathing rate, and distance all important factors that must be considered when trying to make the perfect shot. Though what I saw was still in an early state, the "bullet-cam" that provides a close-up, cinematic view of particularly good shots is also returning.

Sniper 2's use of CryEngine 3 dramatically upgrades the game's visuals.

In one of the demo's more impressive encounters, the player was discovered by an enemy helicopter that immediately began raining down heavy fire. After a well-timed run across the courtyard to cover as the chopper made another pass, the player was able to plant a shot squarely in the pilot's chest, thereby downing the heavily-armed foe. One can only hope that the final game will include many such moments of intensity. Another pleasant surprise was that the demo didn't degenerate into standard infantry-style shooter gameplay--an occurrence that marred the original game's motif. Details on multiplayer for Sniper 2 are being kept to a minimum; however, I was told that it will be sniper-focused and likely objective-based in order to keep players moving. In a game where the core mechanics basically encourage players to camp, forcing players to move around a bit in multiplayer is probably a good thing. Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is currently planned for a first-quarter release in 2012 on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. The game already looks much prettier than its predecessor thanks to CryEngine 3, and if the enemy AI sees equal improvement, Sniper 2 could end up delivering a markedly improved sniping experience. Watch the Shacknews E3 2011 page to follow all our coverage of this year's show. You can also subscribe to it with your favorite RSS reader.