CI Games’ long awaited sniper stealth action game released last week and here’s the lowdown on the game in its current form. Take a look at the video or text Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 review for more details.
Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 Review:
CI Games returns to the table with their Sniper Ghost Warrior series which now comes as a much needed third installment for sniper fans. Taking on board complaints from the previous outings, the latest offering has players assume the role of an American Sniper and general cool guy Jon North as he investigates the disappearance of his sibling Robert (also an expert soldier) in the Georgia region of the Russian border. There’s also an undertone of instability in the of which the Americans are covertly there to influence.
Story specifics aside, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 ditches its focused approach of the previous game and hands players the reigns to explore an open world and discover side activities themselves, in a similar fashion to games such as Far Cry. You can drive around via vehicles or cross the terrain on foot making discoveries along the way – such as clearing outposts, rescuing captives, tracking footprints for treasure and securing resources or collectibles just because you can. There is a story focus here as well which plays out across 4 acts and can be activated by visiting one of your hideouts. The hideouts act as a hub where players can buy new weapons and gear, upgrade and craft items or hit the sack to change the time of day. There is one hideout location per zone of which there are several zones throughout the campaign. Sadly, there’s no option to use the bed with one of the female companions you work with throughout the story unfortunately, as this is serious business.
There’s perhaps a criticism or flaw of the hideout purpose aside from being forced to return there to instigate the start of the next mission. The idea of collecting resources from various crates and the fallen is sound, however, the items you craft such as bullets can also be purchased with money gained from various activities. The acquisition of money and resource gathering don’t work in tandem very well making the resources rather redundant when you can easily (and quite cheaply) buy bullets for example rather than craft them. Not once is it a requirement to spend the time crafting unless you’re the worst sniper in the world – and this is on the game’s Hard difficulty. Perhaps earning less cash could have alleviated this aspect making crafting a much more viable option.
Aside from a few niggles with the game’s design though, the gameplay is pretty sweet with some excellent sniping mechanics to put you into Jon’s role here. Players have to line up their shots correctly, adjust the zoom and distance tracking to account for wind affecting the trajectory of the bullet before squeezing the trigger. The enemy AI will also respond accordingly once they start seeing their comrades drop like flies around them forcing you to move location as you would expect. There are several gameplay styles players can adopt here (marked as Sniper, Ghost and Warrior) as it’s not always about sniping from afar, although some sections it is a forced requirement due to the story direction. Players pretty much can decide how they want to tackle the missions and what equipment/skills to use and level up. For example, there’s a handy drone which can be used to scout an area marking targets for you. This is an optional feature as it’s quite easy using your scope to also mark targets from afar. Players can then decide to tactically drop targets one by one without their dead bodies being detected – there are tools which enable you to lure enemies away from their patrol paths or zones making it possible to clear entire areas without being detected. Alternatively, players can sneak to objectives or targets without killing anyone and just focus on the mission requirement (which is challenge in itself) thanks to some great use of verticality where you can scale various buildings and surfaces. You’re rewarded XP no matter what approach you adopt including going loud with a variety of assault weaponry if that’s your calling or you mess up the stealth. It has to be said, the mission structure and map designs are excellent for the most part offering multiple approaches although sadly (again due to poor design choices) players can’t replay missions at will to try new approaches. Hopefully this is something CI will add in the future as it seems like a massive oversight considering how wonderful the mission maps are designed. Another poor choice is the use of just one save slot which again it’s hoped this can be increased especially for those who want to change the difficulty.
On a technical level, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 looks pretty sweet in 4K on PC with all the details cranked up but this doesn’t hide some low resolution textures in many places and performance issues which will test even the mightiest of graphics cards. There are also a number of glitches which need to be fixed which can hamper the game somewhat even if some might be on the comical side. On one occasion a group of special forces thugs sat in a vehicle unable to move simply because the player character hadn’t crossed an invisible trigger point. It was possible to simply shoot all four of them one by one without any resistance. Another occasion had a non threatening surrendering scientist blocking a mission critical doorway with no way to pass unless shot and killed. Silly things like this suggest a game that needed more bug testing. That said, for the most part and during many hours of playing the game does what it sets out to do and looks good in the process.
Audio comes in as a mixed bag with around 30 minutes of cutscenes and plentiful banter during missions. The cutscenes look low quality compared to the rest of the game which is a shame and the acting could have been better performed, although John does a fine job throughout. Probably one of the worst aspects of the audio is the music which can be toggled off when driving, but having it boom out during some longer than usual loading screens begins to grate.
Completing the campaign story which comprises of some 26 missions will take some time, and then there’s side missions and all the other map activities to complete including taking out special targets. You can expect to invest quite a number of hours here which means you’ll certainly get your monies worth considering the game’s slightly lower price point for the included season pass version. There’s extra content and multiplayer planned for the future which should extend the game further but it’s good to see CI Game’s commitment here.
Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is a massive improvement over the last game that’s plain to see here so hats off to CI Games for expanding the series into something fans wanted. There’s some great gameplay features on offer with the free-form approach to missions and excellent level designs. However, no matter how great the core elements are, they are brought down a peg or two due to some less than favorable design choices, poor execution and lack of overall polish. Whilst the game might not have commanded the biggest of budgets it’s simply a product not suited for everyone and even some fans who might be picky over things like bugs making some elements not working properly. That said, if you’re willing to wait until some updates and patches are released then once the kinks are ironed out there is a neat enjoyable game here for stealth/sniper gamers that’s well worth the time and money.
Score – 8/10