Tactical based shooters haven’t really sparked much attention recently outside of say Sniper Elite 4, Metal Gear Solid, and a few others. It was a breath of fresh air to see that CI Games felt the urge to take advantage of this by releasing Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 for dedicated fans of the genre. Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 is an open world, first person stealth game, which focuses primarily on taking down enemies with your sniper rifle and various other weapons available. Of course, if you want to tackle foes by melee and use ninja like tactics to demobilize the enemy, all of that is available to you as well. The unfortunate side to this however is that, while Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 tries to incorporate various aspects of other genres into one package, it fails to master any of these aspects and shoots way past its intended target. We’ll go into more detail once we dive into gameplay, so look forward to that.
What to Expect
It’s so easy to draw comparison between Sniper Elite 4 and Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 because, the two of them share a similar premise in that, both main characters are equipped with a high powered rifle and need to eliminate enemies before they eliminate you. The main difference however is that, Sniper Elite 4 feels more polished and is what a sniping game should be whereas in Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 the feeling is somewhat there but it loses itself in a myriad of other options that just don’t fit the premise. We will say however that Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 is an incredibly vast and open game, which allows you to travel just about anywhere on the map whether it be on foot or by your buggie. The sniping aspect of the game may come off a little overwhelming at first, but we can see that the team was trying to incorporate a more realistic feel to how a real sniper would approach an enemy.
This eventually becomes much easier as you play along, and the skill features along with being able to modify and craft weapon parts is an enticing addition. The campaign is long enough to keep you occupied, and being able to just run around and snipe people is very endearing in itself.
Jon and Robert are brothers, who both have a fond respect for each other. As they grew older the two of them decided to join the army in order to take down enemy forces, and eliminate any threat to American soil. Sadly, Jon and Robert find themselves in a very tough spot as Robert is kidnapped by Vasilisk, a well known terrorist and tyrant and now you must embark on a journey with the help of your team to track down Robert’s whereabouts and bring him back in one piece.
Before we jump into the negatives, let us place our spotlight first on the positive aspects of Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3. As we stated earlier it’s a tactical open world stealth game that puts you in the shoes of Jon, who must trek out and dispose of any nonsense that crosses his path. It’s an emotional one, especially if you have a sibling and so as you play there’s this urge to stay focused in order to successfully clear missions to save your brother. Visually Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 looks great, the world you ride in feels liveable and the changing weather conditions often create unique challenges along the way. Changes in wind patterns will skew your bullet trajectory, being too far from the enemy forces you to find closer options to avoid missing shots, and being able to alter your scope angle just gives the game a more authentic feel. Being able to drive around in your buggie is a thrill since the levels are so big that, walking to your destination would most likely take 30-40 minutes in real time (we tried by the way).
Various missions are scattered all throughout the map, which range from saving hostages from being killed or simply just gathering unique items to put in your collection. The level of freedom you have in Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 is high and so you can ride around and do these mini missions, totally ignoring the main campaign and go at your pace. Being able to choose your path felt very endearing and so it made the experience a lot more entertaining. If we wanted to take a break from the story, we could simply just ride around and look for specific markings on the map and have a field day. Weapon selection along with being able to modify and craft specific tools is another added plus in Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 because it gives you the ability to personalize the game to your liking.
If you’re not too big on melee kills and love more of the ninja like stealth kills, your skill sets allow you to customize perks so that you earn more xp for taking down enemies in various ways. The game notifies you on how you killed the opponent, whether it be a sniping kill, close up melee frontal kill, or the good ol’ knife in the back formula. All of these really make the game really intriguing since you can go about things your way, while also unlocking new weapons to try out and see what style suits you. There are a plethora of weapons and tools to unlock from tactical knives, to the more sophisticated items such as scopes, armor piercing bullets, explosive bullets, and so forth. This was a little overwhelming at first since there was so much to choose from, but once you play through the game more, you find that it becomes much easier to hit up the workbench, create some new tools, then head back out into the fray. Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 does a decent job of explaining the game to you, which is quite good because there’s quite a lot to dive into. It goes into explaining the Scout Mode, which allows Jon to see foot tracks on the ground but also know which areas can be climbed or not. We really liked this feature because it certainly made finding proper sniping spots easier, and it added more to the whole sniping element.
However, this is where we start to fall into the cons of the game and there are a cornucopia of issues to iron out. Firstly, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3, despite how beautiful the game looks in the end, it lacks character and depth. It felt like approaching an attractive woman (or man) only to realize that they lack in so many areas, that slowly you start to get turned off. That’s the same vibe we had with Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 in that, it started off very smoothly but then reared its ugly side and so we felt the urge to get out of there before we over committed. Loading times in this game are for lack of a better term, abysmal. We literally got up to use the restroom and grabbed a small snack, only to come back to see not only the game still loading but then it goes to “game starting” which just adds more to the wait time. When you finally get into the game, texturing issues start to pop up and your character ends up frozen in time while the game tries to make sure everything is actually loaded properly. While we’re patient people, not everyone is willing to sit through almost 5-6 minutes of loading just to snipe some enemies.
Speaking of enemies or rather AI, we decided to test our tactical prowess and go with the harder difficulty. In normal mode, your life bar regenerates once you’ve hit a certain amount, but in hard mode, that doesn’t happen. We did like that little feature because it provided more challenge and forced you not to act rashly. However, the AI weren’t always very responsive and often times we felt that the game, despite being on a higher difficulty, just didn’t feel very hard at all. When you alert enemies they immediately create formations to suppress you which really put pressure on us at times, but then there are other moments when we’re standing directly in front of the enemy and they don’t react. Killing the enemies also felt very dry and bland and this is where the Sniper Elite 4 comparison kicks in. One thing that Sniper Elite 4 did exceptionally well was the killcam where, if you shot a certain point of the body it would show an x-ray of your innards getting torn apart. It felt so satisfying to actually shoot someone whereas in Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3, it tries to do that very same attempt with the bullet time killcam but it fails miserably. The blood splatters look like paint, the stealth kills are lackluster, and even after shooting someone in the head you don’t actually see the wound on their body after they fall to the ground. It’s like the bullet never actually hit them and they’re just lying there to role play being dead.
Pre-rendered cut scenes in the game were an absolute no no in our view. We understand that budgets need to be met in order to ensure the game can be completed, but it really destroyed the vibe of the game and it reminded us of watching PlayStation 3 cutscenes, which is not good in the present game environment. Dialogue between Jon and his peers were often times cringe worthy because, while Jon is supposed to be the main lead of the story, his voice is often monotononous and Lydia just swears every other word she utters. Frank always ends his sentences with “Out” and other characters just seemed to have no depth behind them. It all felt very contrived and rushed which is unfortunate because Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 has the potential to be something better. At the moment it’s going through a midlife crisis, it’s trying to be so many things at once but can’t seem to determine what its main intention is. With no ability to manually save and the autosaves often don’t save when they should, the game continued to dive further into the abyss. Random game crashes and texture clipping issues stifle the game and only make you writhe in pain trying to get through it all without losing your cool.
In a way, we sometimes wished we were on the opposite end of the sniper rifle so that we could just rid of the pain that we endured.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Overall, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 shows promise but it just didn’t deliver this time around. A lot of hype was built around the game which sometimes backfire, and it truly did. Perhaps waiting a few more months to tweak things would’ve saved the title, but now that it’s out in the wild there’s not much that can be done. Patches can certainly fix up the issues we mentioned, but why not iron those out from the get go? They only become more off putting as you continue to invest more time into the game. To be fair, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 had its brighter moments and we certainly found those moments to be rewarding. Being able to hide under a train and shoot someone in the testicles was worth a laugh, along with shooting explosive barrels and watching the body physics kick in. We only wish that the entire campaign gave us that very same reward.
Pretty decent campaign with about 6 missions in every Act.
Visually, the game looks fantastic.
The weapon modifications and variety are a plus.
Very open world with freedom to pick and choose side missions.
Playing with the drone was really cool.
Terrible loading times and lackluster soundtrack.
Abysmal voice acting.
Lacking in depth overall.
Game sometimes crashes at random moments, and auto save doesn’t always work properly.
Honey's Final Verdict:
Will we ever pick up the sniper rifle and drones again? Probably not, but remember that this is our take on the game and so we suggest still trying the game out if you had a strong interest for it. There were just too many issues to iron out and for those reasons, it turned us off from wanting to continue playing despite how visually appealing it was. Shooting people can be fun but not when it feels very unnatural and robotic at times. If you ever do decide to pick up Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and of course be sure to follow us on Twitter and Discord to know when Honey’s Gaming goes live on Twitch.
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Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!