|RELEASE DATE||April 25, 2017|
|PLATFORMS||Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC/Steam|
A word of thanks to CI Games and Evolve PR for providing me with a copy of the game to review! Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 isn’t the usual kind of game I play, and I wanted to try and branch out into something I don’t usually mess with.
Where do I start here? I appreciate CI Games’ attempts at creating a triple-A narrative here.
Considering this was the first time they tried to with the Sniper Ghost Warrior series, it’s not a terrible attempt.
That being said – the story itself is nothing to write home about. Bogged down with clichés and contrivances that are used to death within action games/films.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:
Jon North, a Marine sniper on a mission to destabilize a region of northern Georgia and help the resistance there uproot the current regime. However, his real mission is to try and find his brother, Robert North, who was captured during a mission they were on together that went sideways in the end.
There’s nothing inherently bad about the plot itself – it’s just not super original. You’ve seen this song and dance many times before.
The real problem here, is that nothing happens to set it apart from anything else – it locks on to the cliché and doesn’t let go for the entire ride – even when you think it might, it just switches to another cliché.
The plot falls flat in the places where it tries to make you care about what’s happening – none of the characters here get nearly enough development. Moments of emotion feel sudden and out of place, not to mention lacking any real impact.
On top of that, the twists that happen here can be seen coming from space.
Now, the plot does serve its purpose for the most part – but just barely. 9 times out of 10 it feels like the mission you’re on was constructed gameplay first and then had a story forced into it.
If you’re not one that cares much for story, this plot won’t be horrible – it’s just a bit boring. If you were expecting a tale “of brotherhood, patriotism, and betrayal” – you’re going to be a bit disappointed here.
It’s a Cryengine game – so even if it looked horrible, it would still look better than a lot of other games. That said, the visuals are nothing special. I’m sure the game has a better visual fidelity on PC – but for me, it’s more the art style and overall character designs that drag the visuals down.
One of the main things a game like Crysis has going for it, is that the overall designs look stylish and sleek – a lot of neon, and a lot of nature-reclaiming-the-world style.
Sniper has none of that – it instead goes for a semi-realistic look, grounded in reality. Even when things take a slightly more science-fiction turn, the artstyle opts to keep things grounded.
You won’t be seeing any carbon fiber, neon-trimmed nanosuits here.
On the other, less-positive side of the coin is the technical side of the game.
The framerate is mostly fine, all though it can dip quite a bit at times. Enough to affect gameplay.
The biggest problem, though, is that the game is plagued with ridiculously long load times when switching regions.
No exaggeration – when switching between maps, load times can hit upwards of 5 minutes.
I get it – you have to load in the entire new map, but games like Dragon Age: Inquisition and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain also have multiple, large maps that you switch between, and neither game loads anywhere near as slowly as this does.
On top of the bad loads, the game is riddled with bugs. Most of them are fairly minor, but some are game crippling.
For instance, there were times when driving my vehicle around the map, the vehicle would suddenly vanish while I was still inside resulting in me being unable to exit the vehicle. The only way I could was by fast travelling. However, while that got me out of the car and allowed me to move – the vehicle itself had now vanished, despite still having an icon on the map.
Completely reloading the game was the only thing that fixed it.
And that’s not counting the 10+ times the game just straight up either crashed completely, booting me back to the XMB on PS4, or softlocked, forcing me to close and restart the game.
It certainly doesn’t do anything to help the game’s already kind of bland look when it runs so poorly.
And to top it all off? There are weird UI bugs where most of the UI will adhere to the PS4’s settings, but other things don’t and so they get cutoff if your TV has anykind of overscan on it.
Thankfully, the things that get cutoff aren’t super important.
Given all the technical issues with the game, it’d be easy to think the game might not even be fun.
Thankfully, that’s not entirely the case – but don’t misunderstand my tone here, while the game is fun to play when it works, the gameplay is not without its own share of problems.
Sniping does feel really good to pull off. Landing a long distance headshot after accounting for elevation, distance and wind is a satisfying thing.
Certain shots can even trigger a bullet camera, showing a highly detailed bullet travelling to its target. There won’t be any x-rays and it only happens for headshots, though.
Sniper Elite this is not.
Sniping isn’t the only way to play, though – the game is called “Sniper Ghost Warrior” for a reason. Jon is also a proficient infiltrator and fighter.
Playing as a Ghost is the stealthy approach – infiltrating into an outpost ala Solid Snake, sneaking behind enemies and taking them down with quiet melee attacks, or silenced sidearms. Finding patrol routes and other intel to quickly and quietly move through the area staying undetected.
The last method is Warrior – which is pretty much your guns-blazing style. Melee attacks out in the open, kills with a secondary weapon, the base on alert as you try and mow down enemies as they come to you.
You do have a lot of variety in the way you can approach a mission usually.
However, this is where the gameplay’s greatest flaw emerges. Sniping is way, way too powerful. There is hardly ever a time in which playing as a Ghost or Warrior is worth it – you can pretty much clear an outpost with just your sniper rifle at any given time.
You have a lot of tools at your disposal, but most will go unused. The thing you’ll likely find yourself using the most would be the Drone.
The drone is by far the most useful gadget in Jon’s arsenal, and it will likely be one of the only tools you ever use outside of your main rifle.
You have access to other things – like night vision and thermal vision, which can be useful, but not nearly enough. Grenades have almost no use at all – I think I used 3 in my entire 20+ hours of play, just to see what they did and how they felt to use
The other flaw the game has, is that there is a skilltree for each style of play – but none of the skills are really all that useful. A few are – like increasing how long Jon can hold his breath while sniping, and seeing enemy snipers’ lines of sight – but most of them serve next to no purpose.
One thing I’ll give it is that you earn points towards each class all the time. Different actions earn points towards different classes – general actions like tagging enemies will net points for all three classes, kills with the secondary weapon earn points towards Warrior, stealth and sidearm kills go toward Ghost, and kills with the sniper rifle go into Sniper.
There is one problem I have with this – you continue earning experience towards different classes even if you’ve maxed out that class. By the end of my playthrough, I had every Sniper perk, and nearly 30 excess points in that class.
It would be nice if those excess points could be used in the other classes since they’re useless once you’ve maxed out the class they’re for.
There is at least one feature that actually feels super useful and integrated into the gameplay, though.
By holding down L1, you can enter Scout mode which highlights various important things around you – allies, enemies, hidden footprints, items, etc.
Next to the drone, Scout mode is the most useful thing Jon has. It allows him to spot enemies easily – and even lets you know what level of alert they’re on – white is unaware, orange is cautious, red is high alert.
It makes finding items and interactables much easier as well.
Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is pretty weak in the replay area. Once you’ve finished the main story, there isn’t really much left to do. You can go and infiltrate other outposts in the maps, but there isn’t really a reason to.
There are a multitude of “Points of Interest” scattered around each of the maps – these lead to minor things like Fast Travel Points and slightly more substantial collectibles like captured civilians, antique rifles and other things like pieces of Georgian art.
Thing is, these collectibles seem to serve no purpose other than being collectible – you can’t use the antique rifles from what I’ve found, and the paintings/other relics are simply displayed around your various safehouses.
You can’t even replay previous missions to redo missed objectives!
There is also a “Most Wanted” list – a lot like the Deck of 52 in Mercenaries – this is a list of unique targets for you to kill around the different regions.
However, this list of targets is currently (As of this writing) broken and can’t be completed – one of the targets just doesn’t appear on the map like he should.
It’s not a huge deal unless you’re trying to go for the game’s platinum/100% – as killing every target is required for a trophy.
Speaking of the trophies – nothing here is super difficult. Nearly everything, barring collectibles and the glitched Most Wanted target, can be obtained through natural progression.
As of right now, there is no multiplayer element, but according to CI games, that may be coming at a later date.
Overall, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is an alright game that gets brought down by awful technical issues and gameplay that manages to cater too much to one style of play while trying to offer variety.
It’s worth checking out, sure – the game is actually fun to play when it’s working properly, but I can’t in good conscience ask players to shell out full price for it. Wait for a sale, or rent it if you absolutely must play it now.
I wanted to like Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, it was something mostly new to me and I didn’t really know what to expect as I’d never played any of the other games.
I enjoy shooters from time to time – I loved the original Halo, I love the FarCry games, I even enjoy playing the recent Battlefront – but Sniper leaves a lot to be desired. There’s potential here for something great, but the technical issues and lack of originality in the narrative bog down what could be a fun sniping experience.
The fact that sniping is so powerful also lets the game down as it ends up overshadowing the other gameplay styles immensely, which is disappointing.
And that is the main flaw with Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 – it’s not a bad game, it’s disappointing.