For many years, the Sniper Ghost Warrior series has been trying to establish itself as the go to title for all the hardcore sniping enthusiasts out there. It hasn’t been an easy road for the developers as the recent Sniper Elite 4 has raised the bar for sniping focused games by introducing some very interesting gameplay mechanics. Developers CI Games is aiming to shoot the Sniper Elite series off its perch with their latest entry Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, but does it manage to hit its mark?
For Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 the developers decided to create an open world for the player to explore – a first for the series. From the very beginning of the game you get the feeling that CI Games took a good few pages out of Ubisoft’s book on how to create an open world game because everything down to the mini map looks and feels a lot like a FarCry title. That’s a good thing because Ubisoft certainly know how to create a sprawling open world filled with plenty of interesting things to do. The only problem is that CI Games are new to creating open world games and this is evident in that the world of Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 feels completely dead.
Life through the cross-hairs
The game is based in Georgia and political unrest has left the region unstable with well-funded military factions causing chaos in the area. You play the role of sharpshooter Captain Jonathan North. After spending your childhood shooting cans with your brother Robert it would make sense that the sibling sniper duo would join the military together. Your very first mission sees you and your brother sent to Russia to destroy a stockpile of weapons which is where your brother is captured. From Russia, you travel to Georgia where you try to take down the head of the terrorist organisation while keeping an eye out for your brother who is apparently still alive and also just so happens to be in Georgia.
The story feels stock standard and it would almost be bearable if it were not for some of the worst voice acting and writing I have heard in a modern game. The writing feels like something out of a bad B movie from the 80s and completely ruins any emotional attachment the developers were trying to have you form with Jonathan and his crew.
Do you come to this cave often?
Where the game lacks in story telling, it makes up for with its visuals thanks to the Unreal 4 Engine hard at work. Seeing the Unreal 4 engine running in an open world game makes for some beautiful moments with gorgeous sunsets and highly detailed views. There are a lot of high resolution textures being loaded into each area and this does tend to lead to some very long load times which averaged around 3 minutes. That’s about where the bad news stops, the gameplay has actually evolved nicely since the previous game.
Seeing the Unreal 4 engine running in an open world game makes for some beautiful moments with gorgeous sunsets and highly detailed views.
The open world allows you to do several side missions to help you build up a stash of goods required to unlock new weapons and keep them loaded with the various ammunition types. Around half way through the game you unlock the Knight 110 semi-automatic Sniper Rifle, a very high powered rifle that when used with a silencer pretty much makes you invisible to the enemy from a distance – sadly also making the game too easy. Missions do tend to play out almost the same as you go, reach an enemy occupied area, use your drone to tag enemies, load up your Knight 110 and several headshots later head back to your hide out for a cold victory beer.
This does mean that Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 runs out of steam very quickly and sadly it doesn’t have overly violent x-ray kills that might keep you coming back for some quick headshot satisfaction. This coupled with a very weak story leaves Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 on the back foot in the fight to be the best sniper title on the market. Having said all that Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 certainly is not a bad game, it just lacks a little refinement that I feel was just out of reach for the developers for this entry but will most likely be in the next Sniper Ghost Warrior game. Little things like the menu music – which is also the only song in the game, feels completely out of place. For a game about a hardened sniper the music would have you think you were enjoying a meal with friends at a trendy Russian market while uploading pictures of your food to Instagram. Sure, it is a little thing but when you start to notice several dozen small problems like that they add up very quickly.
I still think fans of the series will enjoy Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 because like I said it is the best in the series to date. I just don’t know how many new players the game will win over. I do feel that the series is going in the right direction and if there is ever a Sniper Ghost Warrior 4 it could be a worthy opponent for its long-time rival Sniper Elite.