General game information
Game name: Sniper Ghost Warrior 3
Release date: April 24, 2017
Price: US$ 49.99 (game+Season Pass)
Available on: Steam
Genre: Open world first person shooter
Developer: CI Games
Publisher: CI Games
I’m at a mountain hideout, surrounded by a bed, a weapons cache and a workbench. I’ve been on this far away country for a while now, so I know how this stuff works as I plug in my high tech tablet into its laptop dock and look for a new mission. A gruff male voice tells me that a man responsible for the deaths of countless civilians is meeting with a contact critical to my main mission objective, an event that will let me take out two birds with one stone if I’m good enough. The objective is clear: infiltrate the area without raising any alarms, interrogate the contact and then, if I can, take out the monster (a lieutenant in the local separatist group that has taken over this country). I exchange some friendly banter with my support team, select a powerful sniper rifle from my weapons locker, modify it with a silencer, craft ammunition in the workbench, and once I feel like I’m ready for action, I exit the cave and jump into a jeep parked nearby. A quick glance at the map tells me that I’m more than a click and a half away from the mission area, so I plot a route using the GPS and start moving towards my goal. No civilians are in sight, and my only company is a radio playing strange songs in a foreign language which I don’t understand. I’m not even sure if I like the songs, but I still keep the radio on because it adds a touch of humanity to this devastated land. Packs of wolves add their own animal flair to the world as I pass them by, howling to acknowledge my presence. Where’s everyone? Did they flee their country out of fear of the separatist forces? Are they all dead? Did the wolves eat them?
The mission area should be right above me, a helipad built upon the snow covered peak of this mount. My handler said that I couldn’t risk getting detected, so I’ll have to be slow and methodical if I want to get both targets. Luckily, I always carry a small recon drone, so I can inspect the path ahead without exposing myself to enemy fire. The device can be controlled directly with my tablet, and it can be used to tag enemy positions and discover hidden pathways. Turns out the mountain path isn’t exactly bristling with enemy activity, so I scale the rock formations and reach the top in relative tranquility, only having to stop from time to time to catch my breath. Now that I’m inside the op area, I take out the drone once again and scan the faces of the separatist soldiers stationed at the helipad, in order to determine who’s my target. The high tech gadget promptly tags two people, and my handler says that I should tail one of them and record their meeting for posterity. Along the way, a few unfortunate souls meet the sharp end of my knife and their bodies tumble down the mount as I hide all traces of my involvement in this sorry affair.
The meeting goes as planned, and once the separatist lieutenant finishes brokering a deal with my interrogation target, he heads out of the area, moving towards a helicopter that has just landed at the pad. I will only have a short window of opportunity to complete both my main objective and eliminate this murderous bastard. Sprinting would alert my target, so I carefully crouchwalk until I’m behind him, and after subduing him with a quick movement, I quickly get my hands on the vital piece of information I was looking for. With that out of the way, I knock out the informant and use my trained senses to search for an ideal sniping spot before the lieutenant can get away. The mountain peak is being ravaged by strong winds, so I’ll have to account for both that and the distance between me and my target before taking the shot. My high tech scope shows the direction of the wind, so I carefully place my sights just to the left of the separatist officer’s head, hold my breath and pull the trigger. The bullet’s impact sends his dead body reeling towards the ground, where it gets stuck in a weird pose thanks to a physics engine malfunction.
That’s one of the many ways a mission can unfold in Sniper Ghost Warrior 3. CI Games crafted an often beautiful open world first person shooter that lets us sneak our way through enemy outposts and eliminate enemy leaders with well placed shots, snipe targets from afar, or assault fortified bases with a machine gun, but its world is incredibly devoid of life, and strange bugs pop up from time to time. The mission I described above went well (with the exception of that final physics engine malfunction) but I’ve had to endure far worse issues during other play sessions, such as enemies disappearing at long ranges and only showing up if I sent my drone ahead to investigate, gadgets that outright refused to work until a broken patch was recalled, and unexplained framerate drops on a more than capable machine, just to name a few.
Aside from the empty open world and the technical issues I described above, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 also suffers from lengthy initial loading times (not as bad as the 5+ minutes load screens experienced by console users, thankfully) and some of the worst voice acting I’ve ever heard in a modern videogame. There is a distinct sense that developers CI Games tried to deliver an AAA experience on a far smaller budget, and while they mostly succeeded, I think that focusing on the things that the game does well instead of chasing after the Far Cry/Metal Gear Solid 5 crowd would have resulted on a far better product.
Ultimately, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is an entertaining open world first person shooter marred by poor voice acting and a myriad of technical issues. CI Games‘ latest release shows a lot of promise but it needs work before I can give it a glowing recommendation.
6/10 – Fair.
Note: Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 will feature an online component later down the line but it wasn’t available when I sat down with the game to write this review, so I can’t offer my thoughts on it.