The latest issue of Xbox World is on sale now.
As our hero is crouched under a truck, an oblivious Serbian soldier is chatting to his mate. "Do you think we're doing the right thing?" is the gist of the dialogue, as he looks out over war-torn Sarajevo. "Do you think we'll get away with this?" The next section reveals the depths of the conflict's war crimes: the infamous Sniper Alley, where civilians were shot down in cold blood by snipers. And you? You're a sniper.
Namco Bandai happily admits that Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is just giving us what we want, another modern-day FPS following the Modern Warfare model. But where Infinity Ward's shooter disappeared up its own bottom as its plot diverged gleefully from the reality, this is grounded in the modern world and the challenging setting of Sarajevo (which you explore as an American sniper) is at the heart of that.
It's also challenging in another way: this sequel is a huge step up from 2010's execrable Sniper: Ghost Warrior and Namco are determined it'll succeed. The biggest indication of this is that it uses CryEngine 3 (which powers Crysis 3). The result is a fine-looking game.
WELCOME TO SARAJEVO
The range of locations indicates developer Digital Extremes' commitment to quality; we saw footage and gameplay from war-torn Bosnia, the Himalayas, the Antarctic and a thick Indonesian jungle that makes Far Cry 3 look lacklustre. The challenge of the combat comes from its mix of linear and open-world levels; one saw us sneaking through a jungle level, replete with ghillie suit and synchronised shots.
Another? That crawl through a Serb-occupied Sarajevo. This is very much a thinking man's shooter − though you can try to take on multiple enemies, with anything other than extreme range and perfect stealth you'll struggle to survive. The harder difficulties make long-distance shots brain-splattering works of art, where you have to take bullet drop and wind speed into consideration.
The game is still at a very early stage, so the plot and multiplayer is still under wraps. With a range of accurately modelled sniper rifles (the Remington MSR, the Barrett Xm500 and the Accuracy International 50 to name a few), an addictive bullet cam rewarding perfect shots, and the use of CryEngine 3, Ghost Warrior 2 has a chance to knock the next CoD off its pedestal. From a couple of miles away.