Sniper Ghost Warrior franchise isn’t exactly a favorite of the critics. The first two games in the series weren’t received well, but they still managed to get a core base of fans who love everything about it. That enabled CI Games to produce another sequel, which is set to release on April 25, 2017, on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.
It Looks Great…for Now
CI Games is a little known Polish development team that might seem familiar if you’ve played Lords of the Fallen franchise or previous installments of Sniper Ghost Warrior. Aside from that, they created about a dozen of titles for different platforms, but SGW 3 is actually their first take on AAA production. The game’s creative director is a military veteran with vast experience in game development and the lead designer is a guy who worked on Far Cry and League of Legends, which proves how serious CI Games approached this game. SGW 3 uses CryEngine, the same one that Ubisoft upgraded for their Far Cry franchise.
We must admit that what developers promise for their new game seems encouraging and, if they really pull it off, this game might be at least close to some of the best titles in the genre of first-person (semi) tactical shooters (who said Call of Duty?).
You will be playing as Jonathan North, who we will call Jon because everybody else is calling him that. Jon is an American Marine Captain that gets a task to head to Georgia and stop a new cold war from occurring. You might be aware of this, so excuse me for undermining your knowledge of geography, but Georgia borders both Russia and Turkey, making it an interesting location to choose for Sniper Ghost Warrior 3.
There is not much detail when it comes to the actual plot, except that the story is personally related to the main protagonist. The new trailer called “Brothers” that appeared in March revealed this. The trailer suggests that Jon is on a mission to find his brother and make the people who took him pay. The two brothers have a completely different set of thinking and that is what often caused disagreements despite their deep love for one another. According to the rumors, there might be a chance that his younger brother is on the wrong side of the story. The question remains whether he will be the main villain and if Jon can succeed in reverting him back to his side.
Taste the Open World of Georgia
The most important change compared to the previous games in the series is that Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 brings us an open world environment. You have the chance of moving through vast maps with multiple locations which are a background for a big number of missions. You can freely wander around the map on foot, but you will be much faster if you use your 4×4 vehicle. Naturally, using the open roads is much more dangerous, but you can also use the harsh off-road terrains.
Potential enemies are lurking everywhere. Enemy patrols might show up at any moment, while the roads are also full of vehicles with people that can’t wait to shoot at you. Unfortunately, after a while, you will realize that this open world is nothing else than something that will get you from point A to point B. Players who wander around will occasionally find a safe house, a camp of soldiers or even a hungry wolf, but there doesn’t seem to be enough variety when it comes to things you can encounter while exploring the map.
Drones are your Friends in Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3
The game features both main missions and side missions, which are also called “war crimes.” The developers try to make things tricky by not spoon feeding you the objectives. Instead, you will need to hunt for intel yourself. Fortunately, you will have an invaluable assistant – your very own Recon Drone. The high technology device is the tool you will use for scouting the environment, which might mean the difference between life and death.
The drone will help you notice the enemy patrols in the countryside before they surprise you. Furthermore, you can use it to inspect the enemy outposts, making it a perfect assistant for crafting your attack tactics. It’s not easy to control your drone as it can get pretty shaky from time to time and you need to make sure that you don’t fly too close or the enemies will notice it. While you are droning your way around, you will be able to enjoy the scenery. There are elements in the game that resemble the real Republic of Georgia and the developers also carefully worked on the soundtrack, which features some Georgian-influenced songs.
Getting to Work
Once you finish inspecting the surroundings with your expensive gadget and you mark the location of your enemies, you can start infiltrating the enemy outpost. The greatest selling point of Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is that the selection of the style you use is completely up to you. You can choose to run in all guns blazing, but that will require to equip yourself with an automatic rifle and enough ammo. On the other hand, you can use your stealth skills and melee weapons to be as silent as possible. Additionally, if you are a sniper at heart, find a position up high and take down your enemies from a safe distance. Sure, some missions might be best fitted for one approach, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be successful with either one of these three styles.
I particularly like how sniping is handled in Sniper Ghost Warrior 3. A lot of things influence your shot, just like in reality. Calibration of your rifle’s scope, distance, weather, time of the day (the game features a day/night cycle), the speed of the wind, as well as your breathing rate are things you need to take into account to make the perfect shot. The wind might be your worst adversary as it can significantly affect your bullet drop depending on your position. Long-distance shooting is definitely the most interesting part of the game. It will take a while until you adjust your aim, but once you make your first headshot from 100 yards away, you will be more than pleased. SGW 3 will occasionally award you with showing your kill in a slow-motion, which additionally affects the pleasure you feel.
Safe House Is the Way to Go
Depending on the style you applied, each mission will award you with experience points. For example, taking down your enemies from afar will increase your Sniper XP, while marching your way in with an automatic rifle will increase you Warrior XP.
Once you finish the mission, you can retreat to one of the safe houses you discovered on the map. In fact, you should make sure to retreat after every mission in order to collect supplies and stock up. If you think that the nearest safe house is far away, your vehicle can serve as a secondary retreat. While you are in the safe house, you can upgrade your weapons and purchase new gadgets and camouflages. The weapons you use include Turret M96 semi-automatic rifle, Herstal silencer, and Dragoon SVD and BMT 03 long-range sniper rifles.
I personally liked the fact that you can upgrade your drone to make it able to hack enemy’s computers and security cameras from distance. Other than that, the upgrades are not exactly impressive and they range from seeing the target’s outline through a building to auto looting the enemies. Safe houses are also a great way to kill some time. For example, if you plan an attack during the night, you can simply sleep until the designated hour.
Once you complete the main quest and the side missions, you can try yourself in the Challenge mode. CI Games proudly presents it as the hardest difficulty mode in SGW 3. In it, the enemies will wear heavy armor, the drone inspection won’t tag where enemies are but you will have to rely on your memory and so on.
Overall, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 looks extremely promising. The fact that you can choose your approach to the game makes it a combination of a tactical and a classic first-person shooter. The choice on what kind of a soldier you will be is completely up to you. The open world is also a big step forward for the franchise, although it does come with a flaw that map exploration could be far more interesting. The developers actually delayed the release of the game for April 25, 2017, to make some final modifications in accordance with the beta feedback, so the final version of the game might be even better.
The price, however, looks like something that will be the biggest problem of the game. You can pre-order Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 on Steam for $49.99, which seems a tad too much for a title that still needs to find its way to the big leagues.