Often times while playing Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, I found myself having a blast working my way up to a high vantage point while scoping out the environment and planning out my course of action to complete my mission. Picking off enemies one by one carried a sense of accomplishment, as each shot needed to be calculated. It wasn’t perfect – but it was fun. Then I saw I needed to get in close – then the wheels started to come off.
Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is an open world shooter with its bread and butter being a simple, but challenging, sniping mechanic. You’ll have to judge distance, adjust your scope accordingly, and take your shot. Even though you can hold down your breath in normal mode to see the bullet trajectory, each shot feels earned and rewarding. When you can be precise and pick off each enemy one by one, the game is at its best. You’re equipped with a drone that can be used to fly around and mark targets so you can plan out your attack. But when you need to come in close to finish the job or be stealthy, the less appealing underbelly of the game is exposed.
Outside of sniping, gunplay feels loose and weightless. The assault weapons feel awkward to use, and while the game’s main appeal is sniping, having to use anything else in your arsenal when it hits the fan can make the simplest kill a challenge. And trying to be stealthy whether or not it’s required is generally messy. It exposes the game’s inconsistent AI, where one moment they’re able to sense you coming from behind, or the next where they walk right by you without questioning the foreigner with a sniper in the hallway.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3’s story feels juvenile at times and can never break out of the campy low-budget action film feel that takes itself too seriously. You play as Jon North, an elite sniper who’s looking for his missing brother while taking down separatist forces in Georgia. Most plot points and characters aren’t fleshed out enough for any of the drama to land hard or payoffs to feel worthy when they happen. Most of this stems from the main cast being forgettable or too generic to tell apart. The voice acting doesn’t help this at all, because, apart from a few actors, most oversell their dialogue or give flat delivery. The most intriguing plot points are barely given time to shine while obvious reveals and campy action hero lines over-saturate the game.
Safehouses allow you to equip new weapons, buy ammo, and craft new gear. You can also sleep to pass the time, or accept missions from your laptop. One of the best parts of Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is its mission variety. While not every mission works, the various locales and set ups are genuinely fun, and when it highlights sniping, it’s Sniper Ghost Warrior at its best. Most missions allow you to approach them with precision or with reckless abandon, though the latter, as I’ve said, doesn’t work as well. When the game’s story doesn’t get in the way, it allows the game to shine a little bit more. When it’s just you, your sniper, and a camp of enemies, it can be a lot of fun.
Skill points can be earned and used in three different categories: Sniper, Ghost, and Warrior. Skill points are earned by completing sniper related actions for sniper; stealth actions for ghost; and assault actions for warrior. When you have enough points, you can upgrade abilities like reload speed, holding your breath for long, or crafting items with less parts, among other things. The skills you can acquire don’t feel too rewarding, and they instead feel like minor upgrades that makes the skill tree feel unnecessary.
Load times are excruciatingly long, especially when first booting the game up. And by long, I mean really, really long. Sometimes an upwards of four to five minutes. The open world is split between a handful of sectors that require more loading when travelling in between. The open world itself isn’t terribly pretty, either. The environment looks okay, but character models are a generation behind. This review was played on a PlayStation 4, where I encountered a fairly inconsistent frame rate and numerous crashes and freezes which required a hard reset.
Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 has promise, but a lot of its ideas are half baked and fall flat. Sniping is fun, but outside of that, nothing works as well. Most of the game seems too ambitious for its own good, and instead of having a few mechanics that mesh together well, there are a lot of parts that don’t always reach the same level of quality. If you’re looking to snipe a bunch, you’ll have a good time – but everything else you can do is largely underwhelming.
This review is based on a review copy of the PlayStation 4 version of Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 by CI Games. Review copy provided by CI Games.
- Sniping is fun
- Mission variety
- Outside of sniping, little works
- Poor performance
- Inconsistent AI