I went into playing this piece a bit insecure, as I had no experience with this series yet. Somehow, I somehow assumed that it is a more modest B-title, which tries to find its target group specifically among players who like to "camp and sniff" in action games. In addition, I have had experience with Necromunda this month, which reminded me how tedious it can sometimes be to review average games. Fortunately, I had a pleasant surprise, because Contracts 2 offered me much more than I expected. This is a successful variation on the Hitman template, in which you have great freedom of access (you don't have to fight only quietly or only from a distance) in a great sandbox, framed by a sleek and perfectly functional game interface. The atmosphere of the individual missions is excellent.
Platform: XSX (peer-reviewed version), PS4, PS5, X1, PC
Date of issue: 4. 6. 2021
Manufacturer: City Interactive (Poland)
Czech localization: yes (subtitles)
Download data: 20 GB
Game time: 10+ hours
Sales version: boxed and digital
Price: 999 CZK ( Xzone )
Alone in enemy territory
Although the game handles a fictional conflict, it is set in a relatively compelling environment between the Lebanese and Syrian borders, making many scenes look like war shots that we are unfortunately used to see in the Middle East. In any case, this gives the atmosphere a believable and realistic rawness of the whole experience, which you can further support by setting a higher difficulty, which, among other things, hides various parts of the HUD and auxiliary indicators. As a mercenary with the nickname Raven, you are hired for secret intervention: your task is to destabilize a tyrannical government that terrorizes the area and threatens geopolitical stability by acquiring nuclear weapons and closing oil fields.
I was honestly surprised at how modest - but well-presented - the story framework presents and supports the whole game. A big part of this is the voice of your operator, who will occasionally contact you to give you the intellect you need. Conversations between him and Raven reminded me of favorite scenes and characters from Sicario-type movies. Anyway, it's really great to have a helicopter drop you off in the middle of a huge open map, and once it flies off, the world around you will shut up and you realize that from now on it's all up to you. You decide which side of the map and which task to go on, whether you will take the main road or sneak through the bushes. In addition to the main sniper passages, the game also contains many random encounters with patrols or advanced enemy bases, where finding a suitable position for reconnaissance or liquidation is entirely up to you. The tension as you approach an abandoned village and explore
You don't have to fight quietly or only from a distance.
Combined with a successful storyline and unexpectedly impressive graphics, I really felt like an elite soldier on a dangerous and demanding operation, who had to study the environment and the location of enemies very carefully before deciding on a certain tactic and engaging in combat. This slow and exciting pace really reminded me of the legendary mission to Chernobyl from the first Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, in which, in addition to the above, successful dynamic music, for example, also contributes. It was also a big surprise for me that you can put down your rifle and fight with a knife, pistol, submachine gun, or for example, mines and grenades. Also, thanks to the presence of an AI automatic firing turret or drone, the gameplay is much more varied than I expected.
The transformation from shadow to predator
I recommend that you do not form an opinion on the gameplay from the first minutes or the first mission. You start intentionally armed only with basic equipment and skills so that it is not too much for you and you can learn things gradually. The side effect is that you are much weaker and more vulnerable than in similar games. It forces you to slow down and play as a "shadow" that avoids open combat. But as you complete missions, you'll gain access to better armaments and unlock your character's new abilities, such as the "sixth sense" or the ability to hold your breath longer. Gradually, you will become a destructive predator, which (depending on the difficulty) will not be afraid of an open fight with the involvement of explosives or special ammunition. Towards the end of the game, I was able to defeat entire groups of armored enemies or vehicles with absolutely murderous certainty - in this respect, the game contains satisfaction from your development, which could envy any RPG. The only thing I found a little convulsive is shooting at a distance of more than a kilometer - where you really have to aim very, very high above the target.
I played on the Xbox Series X, where unfortunately the "next-gen" patch was not available in the first days, so the game had quite serious problems with fluency (unfortunately this is my second such experience in a short time). But as soon as the patch arrived, the game started to tread perfectly. Its five large maps with different environments and times of day look surprisingly good, which applies not only to the vast open nature, but also to the places of surprisingly complex interiors of factories or fortresses. The Czech subtitles handled the military prank well and did not disturb the serious atmosphere of the game in any way. After completing an individual destination on the map, you have the option to stay there or return to the main menu to rearm. Individual missions can be played repeatedly in other ways to meet a diverse collection of specific challenges. But one passage of campaigns will not take you more than ten hours.