If you thought the last Panda Tactical Sniper game was challenging enough, wait 'til you have four bears making mischief. In Panda Tactical Sniper 2 you help our HobNob-loving hero assemble a group of furry crooks in order to steal a priceless diamond. Not only do you snipe from the sidelines, you also radio in valuable instructions for the motley bear crew. Be an accomplice to team Panda's elaborate heist as you assist them in obtaining a getaway vehicle, getting past intricate laser grids and even distracting a guard from watching his favorite soccer team play.
The controls haven't really changed since the original Tactical Sniper. Almost everything is done using the mouse. Simply drag your mouse/sniper scope to the target and left-click to shoot. You will find rubber ducks hidden about the levels. Snipe all of them and you earn the Duck Hunter medal.
Finishing levels unlocks handy abilities. Unlike the mishmash of boosters that may be purchased in the original game, any one of these can prove valuable depending on your play style. For example, the Walkie Talkie is indispensable when giving direction during stealth missions while Fast Reload is vital when every second counts. On the other hand, if you think your skills are epic enough not to need boosters, you can at least enjoy viewing the whole screen once you obtain the Hide Scope upgrade.
Panda Tactical Sniper 2 really shines when it comes to its mission variety. Of course, being a shooter game, you will be sniping things for a majority of the missions. However, you are not just a first person shooter like you are in other shooting games involving sniper guns such as Dead Zed 2. You're view point is somewhat different in Panda Tactical Sniper 2, being the accomplice that views things from a third-person perspective, you will also be able to decide on team Panda's movements.
There are times when you open up new paths for them by extending ladders, forcing guards to move or switching alarm lasers off. There's also an interesting domino effect at times when deciding the order of items to snipe dictates the success or failure of a mission. Mission briefings inform you of your goal but almost never tell you how to connect point A to point B. You will have to take a moment to check the environment in order to come up with a feasible strategy. Bear in mind that some events have time triggers so expect a few restarts if you're playing the game walkthrough-free. But really, that's part of the fun and what makes the Panda series from Bubblebox one of the rare collections of bear games available online.
Graphics-wise, Panda Tactical Sniper 2 is consistent with the familiar look of the series. While we would have preferred to see a more polished look for Panda and his gang, at least the backgrounds have more depth in terms of lighting. Details such as small knobs to shoot and realistic paintings (an actual Mona Lisa as opposed to the "Happy Lisa") lining the museum halls are certainly nice to see. Unfortunately, the game also retains a certain series quirk. Though the cursor isn't jumpy anymore, there is still a noticeable slow down when dragging the sniper scope around using an average net book.
The audio design is commendable as well, with satisfying clips to make things like bottle breaking sound realistic. The background music also suits the spy film feel of Tactical Sniper 2, being upbeat enough to make things exciting without making the tune a distraction. Clearly, Panda watches too many spy movies as the game's theme sounds quite close to a certain Tom Cruise film.
We give Panda Tactical Sniper 2 a thumbs up. While it does retain the slowdown issue that is common to the series, it also successfully improves upon its predecessor's mission variety. Adding new characters into the mix is a great concept though it would be interesting to have some freedom when it comes to choosing the right bear for the job.
The bottom line is that if you found the original fun then you will enjoy playing Panda Tactical Sniper 2 even more. If you're new to sniping games you may wish to try a conventional browser game such as Clear Vision 3, then you may like the puzzle game twist mixed in with the snipe segments.