It took me some time to adjust from Battlefield 1’s look and feel and to downshift into Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3. Let me tell ya, it is a hell of shift. While it does lower the bar quite a bit in the terms of a truly great shooter, it also hits a few high marks along the way that could make the entire thing worth your time.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3, puts you in the combat boots of Marine badass, Jon North. As North you are sent to the Georgia to realign rebel forces in the area. North primarily takes the mission as an opportunity to locate his brother Robert, who he believes to be captured and in the area.
While completing missions for the separatist forces, you hear legend of a sniper ghost named Armazi who runs a group of badasses called 23 Society. It is up to you to turn the tide of battle, find your bro and investigate the identity of Armazi and his shadow group.
I won’t go past that cause the story does have a few twists and turns along the way. Not gonna lie, most you will probably see coming but it still has some fun in its gas tank.
Jon North, is a refreshing sort of character. He really doesn’t seem to give a shit about anything or anyone. Like, he is totally out for himself and any opposition is met with bullets and 80’s inspired one-liners. I really dug the shift of genre in the story. What starts as a straight up action shoot em’ up sniper game, quickly becomes something with heavy sci-fi influenced edges. The stories shift in that sense does go a long way to keep your attention, or atlas it did for me.
This game has some major problems, but it wasn’t until a few hours in that I realized most of those problems are also the part of its simultaneous charm. It is undeniably a hardcore piece of 80’s schlock. If this had been a movie in the early 80’s it would have been released by Cannon Group and would have starred either Chuck Norris or Michael Dudikoff as Jon North. The dialogue is cheesy, the delivery is over the top, North is an uncaring and egotistical bastard it is almost perfect. It has an undeniable grindhouse feel to it. I’m not sure if that was intentional but it is one of the things I dug the most.
If you have played a recent Far Cry game then you know exactly what kind of game to expect. You use your jeep to get around the vast map areas, pulling over to collect items, complete side quests or take out enemy outposts. These side quests are more a nuisance than they are any actual fun, but they do offer you the chance to unlock weapons and the like. Instead of having one large open-world map this game breaks it into a few distinctly different environments. For example, one area will be primarily jungle, one is dessert and the other is snow-covered. This does help to break up some of the monotony that you will have if you intend to complete all the side missions but I’m not really sure why all the maps couldn’t be consolidated into one, in order to skip the painful load times.
The crowning achievement is obviously its attention to the sniping part of the game. Honestly folks, this is what makes the entire thing worth playing through. You are given the option to keep the training wheels on while sniping. This allows you the crutch of being able to seeing where the bullet will hit with wind and distance already pre-factored in. I gotta say that isn’t a fun way to play at all. So, go ahead and head to setting and turn that handicap off. Now comes the good stuff. Your scope shows you wind direction as well as equates the distance to your target. With a few adjustments to zero in distance and some tweaks for wind you are free to take your shot. This part of the game is extremely satisfying. Sound design and visuals go a long way to make you feel like you are part of the actual sniping action. This game made me feel like “sniping? Yea, I can do that.” Certain trophy/achievements are unlocked by succeeding at long distant shots with varying degrees of wind.
Another nice addition to the game is the ability to run recon on an area with a remote control, on-the-fly drone. This compact lil dude will deploy on a whim in order to help locate and mark all the baddies on your map. This helps to snipe with the confidence that you are completely eliminating an enemy from a specific area.
You are also able to gain XP by performing silent kills, interrogating enemies, taking long distance shots without holding your breath and long kill streaks. Pretty much anything you do will gain you some points but to get the most XP, you have to go for a more skilled kill. This also opens the door to play whoever you want to. Go in guns blazing, go for stealth or infiltrate and leave without killing anyone.
XP points can be used to unlock skills in three classes. Sniper, Ghost and Warrior. These skills will lead to faster reloads, longer increments of time you are able to hold your breath, hacking abilities, etc. I’m not really sure if these made all that much of a difference for the way I was already playing the game but they did lead to trophy unlocks. Which always counts for something in my OCD ridden gameplay.
I appreciate the flexibility when it comes to the before mentioned gameplay freedom but, a lot of times too much of what makes the game good is taken away when you are going for a straight gunfire approach. Waiting in one spot for enemies to round the corner one by one so you can put a bullet in their heart is painfully bad AI at work and lowers any immersion.
My biggest complaint with the game has to be the load times between maps and booting screen. These loads take up to between 5 and 7 minutes. For a game to take that long to load is pretty unacceptable. There has been a lot of word from the developers that this will issue will be patched but so far, the load time remains painfully slow.
All in all, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 lands in the middle of the road. It isn’t something you want to rush out and buy, but it might be something you sniping lovers want to pick up when it goes on sale. The heavy amount of cheesy schlock dialogue and sharp sniper mechanics do make me happy I played through, but outside of those things this game is not something I could full-heartedly recommend.