This title music sounds bad. It sounds like PS1 game music: tracker modules with bland instruments. I suppose its apt enough, considering this is a sequel to a PS1 game.
I don't think The Sniper was ever released in English, but lucky for us, the game starts with a recap of the story of The Sniper so far, presented in appropriately crap graphics.
"His name, Harry C. Spencer. A firefighter. During the rescue of a girl named Melissa, he stumbled across a counterfeiting ring. As a result he lost his job and his girlfriend, Claire Anderson, was killed by the Mafia. Burning with anger, Harry swore revenge upon her killers. Leaving the city, he trained under a ex-military vet to become a killer. Time passed. Harry, now a top ranked sniper, returned to the corrupt city in order to exact his revenge."
Take a breath, please!
"There, he received a phone call from a girl who called herself only CA She offered to provide him with information on the Mafia's activities. Even through his lingering doubts, Harry strangely found that he bring himself to trust CA So, with her help and advice, Harry began a concerted attack on the Mafia. It was only after killing the Mafia boss and completing his revenge that CA appeared before him."
That sounds fair enough...
"She was Melissa, the girl whom Harry previously saved. What is more, she possessed the memories of Harry's murdered girlfriend, Claire. And so, amid this confusion, their journey began. A journey in search of something lost."
You've seen 3D pre-rendered graphics before, right? Close your eyes and imagine what a really good animation looks like. Imagine how all the parts of a well-made game simply come together as a coherent whole.
Now submerge your senses in the world of The Sniper 2 on YouTube.
Suddenly, awful MIDI jazz starts playing at full volume! Chairs and tables sliding through the air! We're under attack from the Mafia!
The owner of the greasy spoon we stopped at throws Harry a weapon. Looks like Harry's not going to be able to outrun his past just yet!
Okay. I can walk very slowly around this platform of the fire escape I'm on. There's a Mafioso somewhere down there, and I've got... three bullets? Is that all you could spare, Abby?!
No music, but that's probably a good thing.
Kaboom! That Mafia guy is down! Now for the next one. Or not, I can't move the controls.
Hurrah! What? Only a B? C'mon! That was a textbook shot! I suppose I did spend a couple of seconds messing around with the controls, but the shot itself was great, right? Also, if you're going to do this every time I kill someone, we're going to be here a long time.
Wait... that one guy was STAGE 01?
It's asking if I want to save! There were three guys after CA! Why is the level over? Did I shoot the wrong one and now she's dead? I know I like to spam quicksaves constantly when they're there, but this was just one man! Alright, next.
STAGE 02 is exactly the same level as the last. This time I have to shoot the two remaining guys. So the first level was a tutorial or something and this time I get to finish the job and save the girl!
The men are running towards me and I have 38 seconds to shoot them both without wasting a bullet.
And it asks me if I want to save again. STAGE 03 is the last of the three men. Same level AGAIN, this time with music! And then it asks me if I want to save AGAIN. And then it shows me the credits.
No foolin', it's the end-of-game credits. The entirety of The Sniper 2 was those three men: Stages 01, 02 and 03. I don't know what's going on here at all. The background is showing clips from cutscenes that didn't happen, so I'm assuming... I don't even know what to think.
I think I lost. CA was carried off by a mysterious stranger that 'smells' like Harry. (Don't ask.) Hmm, this game really doesn't mess around with its time limits. I'll start again and hopefully 'do it right' to get something a little more interesting to show you.
"Next stage: 'A Man Looking For Trouble'. What can you see beyond the darkness?"
Huh, the game carries on. STAGE 04. Opening titles... again?
Harry's being ordered by the CIA to assassinate some arms dealers. They're chasing Gabriel, so we're going to kill them and then interrogate them to find out Gabriel's location. And having saved CA, we'll mumble mumble antidote. And for some reason we've brought Stanley along!
There's no big flashing arrow telling you which guy I'm supposed to kill... I really should have paid attention to the photograph. I've got a 180 degree arc of city to scan and the chances are he's going to be hiding behind one of these buildings for a lot of the level timer.
Grading A. Smashing. Like it.
And here's the credits again... What's the deal with this?
Ahh... it's supposed to be like episodes from an anime or something! Like [PlayStation fighting game] Evil Zone's story modes! Except Evil Zone's story mode sequences had fantastic, continuous silly radio-drama sequences, with a separate style of show for each character. The Sniper 2 has the exact same closing and opening credits between each level.
Of course, I had to test that immediately. With hilarious consequences.
There can't be many games that put both the ending and opening credits in between each level. There's just no reason to do that! Is the game that short? At least they're skippable, and they've got real music rather than these synthesized instruments. It wouldn't be so bad if these sequences weren't skippable, to be honest. Very few people worked on this game. Can you tell?
Let's see. Average height. Wearing clothes. Has hair. Could be either one of these two. In the briefing, Stanley helpfully informs us that he's a violent, ex-military man who uses a knife. So... if I mess up the sniping, I can expect him to... climb all the way up the walls of the building I'm on and stab me? At least then I'll be able to tell which one is him.
So I shoot the skylight. At least thirty people come running out of the building. I'm looking for a person, am I? Let's go.
Sounds logical enough. Unless this game wasn't thought through very well.
It took me almost an hour to find the right man.
This screenshot is as action-packed as a TS2 cutscene gets, by the way.
Not a sane idea to run out into the street and start stealing the Mafia's stuff, especially if you're unarmed. But then again, we're going to die in a couple of days so who cares.
Sure enough, we've found something!
I wonder what Gabriel's up to?
Who did they get to do these voices anyway? Ha, oh wow, real professionals! Well then, good for them!
I wonder if the crazy, shoddy visuals are making the voice acting worse by association? I guess that the actors did a good job insofar as they did exactly what the directors told them to do, but they didn't have anything more to go on other than a list of dialogue with no context. Or maybe making games is really hard and I should shut up.
Poor Stanley. In his dying breaths, he confesses to Harry that he was CIA. And all he gets in return is a monotone 'Yeah. I know. I figured it out.'. Show some emotion, Harry!
He's decided to release CA and give us the Tacklmacain antidote, which was made from CA's blood. CA has Tacklmacain resistance due to genetic manipulation done on her by the CIA. That's also why she has Claire's memories.
It's time for action!
Wait, Harry! That's a cliff! Oh well.
I don't have any margin for error! A single mistake, and I'll... have to repeat the level until I hit him. Just like every other level.
But he just stands there. He doesn't slowly walk towards the car. He barely moves at all. Still, I'm pleasantly surprised that I've not once in three playthroughs accidentally exploded CA like a pumpkin.
In the alternate ending, you have to shoot this guy as he escapes on foot without a hostage. It's a lot harder because he takes a random zig-zag path.
This guy hasn't been mentioned at all up to this point! He's just appeared out of NOWHERE!
The helicopter stays more-or-less still. I should have missed my shot as I aimed way over his head... but then the helicopter bobbed into position and made his head catch the bullet perfectly. Hooray, everybody's safe.
"Is this all just a bad dream? If so, then what awaits at the end of the nightmare?"
That's it. you've seen the whole game. Eight levels (counting the first three as separate levels is a stretch). One shot each. You can win most of them in under a minute. I haven't missed out any menu, map or story sequences. If you took the cutscenes out, you'd spend less time playing The Sniper 2 than you would plugging in the console.
I don't dislike the game at all. The controls work; I can shoot people. From the instant I saw that intro, I knew the game was going to be a laugh. I dislike that I paid money for it. And I dislike that I was mislead into buying it. I thought I was buying something serious.
In The Sniper 2, Bestmedia set the bar low and nailed it there. They've gone to extreme lengths to make it look and sound like they've spent as little effort as they can. I suppose they might've wanted a consistent look with the PS1 version (for whatever demented reason), or maybe they just really like TV movies in Japan.
Here's how I believe The Sniper 2 came about. Once upon a time, there was a series of budget games for the PlayStation in Japan called the Simple series (Wikipedia link). Many of the Simple games were straightforward implementations of basic game concepts, named The 'concept'. For example: The Mahjong, The Chess, The Gun Shooting, The Dungeon RPG and, of course, The Sniper. If any of these games had noticeable plot or graphical flair, it was whatever they could be bothered to chuck together at the last minute.
Through administrative error or just plain whacked-out judgement, they decided to select The Sniper as one of the games to be continued as the series was advanced to the PS2. It's just a shame that The Sniper 2 happens to be a cool sounding name for a game. At least now I know better.