The first piece of DLC to be released for Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 is set in Siberia and its description will tell you that it offers “a more open world experience for solving missions”, well this is partially true. The DLC does let go of your hand and although there are markers showing you where you need to head, the choice is entirely yours as to how you get there. Open world? Not so much an open world but the DLC is made up of large ‘playground’ areas that are far less restrictive than those of the main game, although there is the temptation to tackle them head on making Siberian Strike feel just as on-rails.
The story centres around a missing lab technician who is working undercover reporting on Russian arms R&D. When his reports cease you are sent in. Playing as Cole “Sandman” Anderson you must find out what’s happened and recover any intel. You navigate the environment of Birsovik by using the map to pinpoint enemy locations, although at times the mini map did confuse me as to how many enemies I was facing up against and on what level of a building they were standing on. You can choose to take out each area’s enemies one by one, or to attempt to sneak past undetected, although there aren’t many obvious opportunities to sneak past and there is limited undergrowth in Siberia so you’ll need to make good use of objects in the environment to move undetected. It seems dodgy AI returns and enemies will randomly spot you even when you are perfectly hidden. Some of the large area combat scenarios are plagued by this, bodies you leave behind are spotted making for some rinse and repeat, trial and error gameplay as you work out how to pass an area undetected. The snowy camo also makes soldiers pretty darn hard to pick out which means you will need to rely heavily on your thermal goggles.
The levels in Siberian Strike are vast, although the density of enemies makes them feel rather empty instead of a thriving enemy base. What’s more is the action never feels like it fills them, with firefights and sniping opportunities taking place in small isolated areas of the map. That said, there are several stand out moments in the game that are particular high points in the standard “shooting fish in a barrel” gameplay mechanics.
Siberian Strike doesn’t fix any gameplay issues that plagued the main game but it does go some way into giving you far more freedom to tackle the obstacles it throws at you, although just because there isn’t someone telling you who to shoot and when to do it doesn’t make Siberian Strike ‘open world’. Objectives are straight forward and the paths through the levels are linear, it’s certainly a smoke and mirrors trick attempting to make you think that you have complete freedom, really it’s just as on-rails as the main game.
Like the main game, Siberian Strike is extremely playable and it will take you around 3 hours to complete. It may lack grandeur sniping set pieces but it is a great piece of DLC and coming in at a hefty 1.29 GB it offers plenty of bang for your 800 MS points and is well worth picking up.