Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 from CI Games is an open world, stealth-driven, first-person shooter most of us would enjoy playing at a friend’s house in short bursts, but never lay down any money to actually purchase it. Its somewhat fuzzy mechanics, awkward controls, and all-too-easy level design make this quasi sniping simulator a game lost in the depths of the doldrums. Sniper Ghost Warrior 3‘s not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination but it felt constrained by what seems like an indie-sized budget and lazy development.
You play as Jon North, a moderately cliched video game hero that will do whatever it takes to see the mission through. With his Marine Captain’s training and sniping skills, Jon is dropped into the war-torn country of Georgia to help break up a new terror – a separatist movement that is quickly turning into a bloody civil war. The atmosphere is daunting with rocky terrain, dense forests, and grey skies. Spread throughout four acts, you will move onto new lands with similar but different aesthetics as the game progresses. As Jon traverses the rocky roads by foot or vehicles, he soon realizes there’s something more behind this growing war that could lead back to his past. Most of the time the story is forgettable and bland, but it has to be there or you’d just be going from mission to mission shooting people. Through much of the journey, Jon will travel to small villages, drive along winding roads, and see the people of this country live their every day lives as they normally would. But the NPCs aren’t much to talk about. Their practically lifeless selves don’t interact much with Jon or take any interest in his presence as he stomps through villages with snipers and assault rifles in hand. I even ran one over one during the heat of the battle. The villager wasn’t happy, but there was no repercussion for doing so. They’re bland fillers in a mostly lifeless open world.
You’ll be quick to realize that Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is far from anything that looks like a high-end current gen game. With textures looking no better than an Xbox 360/PS3 game, character models are an eye sore looking cooky and incomplete — and in most cases very generic. The land and atmosphere aren’t the worst I’ve seen, but it”s not by any means an eye catcher.
All of the game’s activities are carried out from the safe house assigned within each location of the game. Each safe house has a Weapons Cache that allows you to purchase and unlock new weapons; a Work Bench that allows you to build ammo, gadgets and more; a Bed for sleeping, and a Laptop station that gives you all of your new missions and assignments.
"The developer claims that sniping in this game is more realistic than ever before, and with the adjustments that must be made to ensure accuracy — such as adjusting the scope elevation to adjust for wind and distance — I was forced to believe them."
With dozens of weapons to choose from, unlock, and earn, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 can be transformed into something other than a sniping simulator, namely an action game as well. Taking place in a open-world, there are few limits on how to tackle each new objective. Of course, sniping is the logical way to go about eliminating the enemies quickly; and with several variations of sniper rifles to choose from, there’s definitely a lot of good equipment. Each rifle looks and feels unique with beautiful accuracy in model design. Depending on how you like your rifle to feel, there are several variations in which to find a rifle that is suitable for your own playstyle. With counters on damage, fire rate, stability, recoil absorption, ammo capacity, mobility, and noise reduction, each rifle can vastly differ from any other. Then you can slightly modify each rifle to give it that extra juice it needs to carry out the particular mission you’ve been assigned.
Upon arriving at any safe house the game provides, modifications can then be made in the Weapon Cache station. Each rifle includes adding or removing a scope, magazine, silencer, bipod, camo, and vision. Not every sniper rifle is entitled to every category and each category must be unlocked and/or purchased as the game progresses. The recoil and intensity of each rifle felt slightly different than the other depending on which model I had, but I found myself enjoying the game’s opening sniper, the XM-2015 more than any others I was able to further unlock. It was an all-around great rifle to use in the open terrain and was very versatile.
The developer claims that sniping in this game is more realistic than ever before, and with the adjustments that must be made to ensure accuracy — such as adjusting the scope elevation to adjust for wind and distance — I was forced to believe them. You’ll quickly learn that taking care of your equipment, crafting bullets and gadgets, and maintaining your rifles will become common practice. If equipment and rifles aren’t maintained regularly at the safe house, you may find yourself in the middle of the field with a broken silencer or no bullets, forcing you to go in with your assault rifle or melee weapons.
"The controls for the weapons are a totally separate story. Controls are often slow to react or unrefined. For instance, if you preemptively hold R2 to raise your drone to a higher altitude, you’ll have to release the button once the drone comes out and press R2 again or it won’t react if you’re holding the trigger."
With a vast variation of rifles to choose from, the developers didn’t stop there. They added an extensive cache of assault rifles for a secondary weapon, pistols for sidearms, and a small selection of knives. Each of which (excluding the knives) are also modifiable to lesser degrees. Oh, and don’t forget the drone. It’s a little robot that does reconnaissance which allows you to tag out each enemy, ideal sniping points, mortars, and more.
The weapons cache that can be unlocked and taken into each mission is indeed impressive and well thought out. Along with all of those weapons, Jon also has an animal-like sense called Scout that allows him to analyse and track clues spread out in various locations. It’s interesting to use it in a particular “missing body” side mission, but not necessary until the game forces it on you — which isn’t often.
The controls for the weapons are a totally separate story. Controls are often slow to react or unrefined. For instance, if you preemptively hold R2 to raise your drone to a higher altitude, you’ll have to release the button once the drone comes out and press R2 again or it won’t react if you’re holding the trigger.
"Sniper Ghost Warrior 3‘s extensive side missions can be a lot of fun. Spread generously throughout the open world, side missions include several Point of Interest locations that vary between hostage situations, loot gathering, collectible hunting, drone obstacle courses, killing or interrogating men, and much more."
There is some decent variety in mission types but most come down to sneaking into a guarded location and taking down the man behind it all, or recovering important intel. Missions may garner a new piece of information that carries into the overarching story, but they’re all practically the same. Though this is an open world game and you can go about each mission from different fronts, they all tend to be relatively the same substance. As long as you stay back and hidden, it should be pretty easy to finish most, but not all, missions. Luckily, it’s impossible to quick scope in this game, so using stealth is a must if you decide to go in as a sniper and not guns blazing.
Anyway you decide to head into the mission, AI enemies are consistently dimwitted and only notice danger if it happens right in their faces. If you shoot someone next to another enemy or behind them, you’re in the clear. AI’s perception and focus of danger is stuck in a vortex of tunnel vision and unless they walk into a dead body, you’ll likely clear many missions unscathed and unnoticed.
Sniper Ghost Warrior 3‘s extensive side missions can be a lot of fun. Spread generously throughout the open world, side missions include several Point of Interest locations that vary between hostage situations, loot gathering, collectible hunting, drone obstacle courses, killing or interrogating men, and much more. You’ll often find many parts needed for weapon upgrades and bullet ingredients at these locations. Side missions are not very very long or more than a few minutes each — which is great and helps you to focus on the main story instead of getting swamped in huge side story arcs.
As in many games of this style, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 has a small skill tree that allows you to upgrade your character’s abilities. The skills tree consists of three categories: Sniper, Ghost and Warrior. Each skill allows you to upgrade Jon in those three classes from points gathered by accomplishing tasks. The Sniper category allows you to become a better sniper, Ghost for quick actions and stealth, and Warrior for added health perks and different rifle improvements. The skill tree isn’t extensive and doesn’t take much work to unlock many of the more important abilities it holds.
"Overall, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 has some decent gameplay features in terms of customizing and building up your weapons, an open world where going about the mission is up to you, and a fun drone to pilot around. However, a bland story, bugs and glitches, and lazy design choices make Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 a rather bland experience at times."
For a game centered around realism and stealth, and becoming the master of invisibility, I went in expecting the physics and the world to be somewhat interactive. Jon has the ability to climb and shimmy his way around cliffs and buildings, but only if the game has a preset set piece for him to do so. If there’s a rock in the way and it’s only chest-high but not designed to be climbed on, Jon can either try and jump over or walk around it…which doesn’t make much sense. Also, walking sounds the same everywhere, there is no distinction between walking effects in the game, be it dirt, mud, snow or bushes. There is no distinction of sound effects with anything except water — which is very, very minimal. But that won’t be a big deal if you crouch-walk — you then become completely silent in any terrain which is a bit odd.
Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 also suffers from terrible pop-in effects that garner many of the important moments through the scope’s point of view to be lackluster. Rendering is often slow and unsatisfying when you look up close through the scope.
I’ll ignore the fact that Jon can drive around in his truck going forward and reverse without taking his hands off of the steering wheel and chalk that up to lazy development. But the game is riddled with bugs and glitches which I experienced more than my fair share throughout Sniper Ghost Warrior 3. Some moments, however, aren’t even glitches or bugs but bad design choices or just plain laziness. For instance, I can sneak around in crouch mode (remember, Jon is dead silent in crouch mode no matter the terrain) and interrogate groups of enemies. As long as the others have their backs turned, I can literally have a conversation with one of my enemies and discuss his evil plans right in the middle of the fray through intimidation tactics. I’m not sure why moments such as these weren’t fixed but it just makes for a mediocre experience that feels very lazily designed.
Overall, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 has some decent gameplay features in terms of customizing and building up your weapons, an open world where going about the mission is up to you, and a fun drone to pilot around. However, a bland story, bugs and glitches, and lazy design choices make Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 a rather bland experience at times.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 4.
Selection of weapons is extensive, in-depth weapon customization, piloting the drone is a ton of dun, and a wide open world to explore.
Long load times, glitches and bugs, muddled control mechanics, bland AI and story, lazy design choices.