Released: April 25th, 2017.
Take aim. Follow target. Breathe in. Hold. Pull trigger. Breathe out. Escape. A lone sniper out in Georgia, taking down high value targets, gathering intel and gaining the trust of the resistance, all the while looking for his missing brother. It’s nerve wracking, tactical and at times both frustrating and oddly hilarious.
“This is American Justice. Shoot first, ask questions later”
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 is a landmark game in the series, the first to allow open-world game-play. Players can choose their own path, be it exploration and intel gathering, or directly following the missions set out by JSOC. Following a brief tutorial mission players are free to explore the world, or select a mission from the safe house. The missions, although following a similar structure to each other, are different in their scope (pun intended – ahem) and feel more unique because of it. One minute the objective is to take out a single target in a hostile rich environment, the next, infiltrating a church filled with enemies to free civilians. There are multiple ways to spot targets, either with the scope or using the drone to fly around the area. The difficulty also varies from mission to mission, as the more targets there are means the more factors to consider, such as which order to take them down in. It leads to some interesting internal debates, and often missions will need to be repeated as they are failed the first time. Once the first few missions are complete players unlock the Most Wanted List, a list of targets to be hunted and killed, preferably in such a way as there is no return fire while trying to exfiltrate.
The main story centres around trying to find the protagonists missing brother, and gathering information pertaining to the his whereabouts. An urgent feel is admittedly negated by the open world nature. Other than the hunt for a missing sibling, the missions are assigned by Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) the unit in charge of the Sniper ‘protagonist’. However, a statement from the games development team states that they are adding a multi-player feature, although releasing it separately from the single player so as not to detract from the focus of either. Currently due for release in Q3 of 2017, this is still subject to change as it’s still in development. What the multiplayer will entail remains to be seen, however it will add another element to the so fingers crossed it focuses heavily on Sniping, as the single player does.
The country of Georgia looks resplendent, thanks in no small part to the Cryengine (Originally created for the Far Cry franchise). The landscape contrasts hugely, from rolling hills with not a soul in sight, to mountains covered in huge monolithic buildings (Jason Bourne eat your heart out). Each of these represents a different challenge for the player, as remaining hidden while shooting is a huge advantage where possible. As a lone sniper, the enemy normally outnumber the player by a significant amount. Often, high ground is the king (and not just the moral high ground) as looking down to an enemy can be beneficial to tackling them and remaining unseen. Crawling through the undergrowth makes everything seem so real, and makes the hunt for a missing sibling all the more dramatic. It can at times create a sense of claustrophobia, despite the open environment, which in turn gives a real tense nature to certain missions and aspects of the campaign.
Sniper… does have its flaws however. Primarily among these are the loading times, which feels like eternity when gaming time is limited. There are also a fair few glitches, which can often be hilarious, are just as often game-breaking, such as a disappearing car, leaving the player character sat where the car should be unable to move. These are likely to be patched in time though, and they don’t crop up often enough to be a concern. The good points do outweigh them, and one in particular is certainly an interesting reward for a well placed shot, as the camera follows the bullet in slow motion into the target. This feature, combined with the share features of either current gen console, allow much showing off and competition between friends when playing as everyone tries to out-do each other.
A good sniper game, but falls slightly short on most other areas . However, if you’ve always wanted to be Chris Kyle, the “American Sniper”, then Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 will appeal. The addition of a multi player may just give it a higher rating, as it will be interesting to see if it’s co-operative or competitive, or a combination of both on offer. For now there’s just not enough here.