Sniper Ghost Warrior walks an interesting line. It’s not a perfect game by any means and is marred by quite a few technical problems and a mediocre story. But when it works, it works quite well. This review is probably going to sound like a lot of complaining. There is a lot to complain about. But it’s not a bad game either and if you are willing to put up with some mediocre graphics and a few crashes, it’s a pretty fun experience.
We’ll start with the graphics which also happens to be the least impressive thing this game brings to the table. I’m going to attempt to not bash this game the entire time but I feel it’s better to be honest and, well, there are quite a few things to complain about.
The environments are decent looking. It’s not going to blow you away with amazing visuals or anything but as far as looks go it’s pretty convincing. Trees and other foliage look decent and the landscape is fairly easy on the eyes. There are also cars, small houses, factories, shacks, and whatnot scattered about that make up the local buildings and they look alright.
One visual issue is the lack of color. The color palette is pretty drab. It’s full of greys and browns for the most part. I might be going blind in my old age but I noticed that I had a hard time seeing things sometimes. Which is kind of a deal breaker when I can’t even see the targets I’m supposed to be shooting. There is a way to circumvent that problem though and we’ll get to that in a bit.
The experience in this open world sniping game is littered with quite a few graphical errors however. Pop ins are quite common and navigating the world is pretty confusing sometimes. Especially in a car. Which I might add is actually fun to drive. Until you get stuck.
The sound design seems to follow the same route as the graphics, it is pretty good when it works. The guns have a good, solid sound to them when fired. Explosions are large and satisfying. The sound of bullets flying through a body part was a bit squishy sounding for my taste but I didn’t mind too much.
Voices are just okay. Again, voice performances just walk that line of mediocrity. Not bad by any means but you won’t be writing home to momma about it anytime soon either.
The only hitch to all this is that sometimes sounds don’t work at all. There will be times when you fire your gun and you don’t hear the shot. Or you hear part of it. Or it’s a different sound altogether. Again, nothing too crazy and it doesn't happen all the time but it's a little annoying anyway. It’s a quick way to take you out of the moment.
Give me tunes please
Music is your general run of the mill background music. Which, like a lot of things in this game, is good and bad all at the same time. It stays pretty quiet and in the background which makes it very unmemorable. But on the flip side it works for the vibe of the game which is sniping and being quiet. The most memorable bit of music is at the opening screen. Which gets old pretty quick after listening to it during the very long load times.
Okay, this is where the good stuff is. Believe it or not there are some good parts to this game. With the caveat that it’s good when it works. Seriously though, there are some redeeming qualities in the gameplay.
The map is where it's at
As I mentioned, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is an open world game. Once you get into the game there are all kinds of side missions that you can take on and you’re pretty much allowed to go where you want. The previous entries were more mission based and I think this is a good change.
The map isn’t huge but it can keep you busy for some time if you decide to do the side missions. There isn't a whole lot else to find though which is a shame. You’ll take breaks between missions in your safe house. Which is a central base of sorts that you can do some of your more preparatory tasks.
Home away from home
Some of these tasks include changing out your weapon loadout at the weapons cache and getting your next mission from your laptop. It’s also in the safe house that you can upgrade your weapons and armor. Some upgrades includes some helpful features as a larger magazine or a better scope. Others are more cosmetic. You’ll also use the workbench to create some more ammunition of which there are several variations.
I thought the safe house was a pretty cool concept that tied the open world together. It’s a good place to go between missions and recoup as well as stock up. It also plays into the one thing this game works really well with; planning.
Level me up
Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 can be played in various ways. In fact the experience/leveling up portion of the game includes three small trees that relate the name of the game. Sniper, Ghost, and Warrior. You level these up by playing a certain way. Using your sniper tactics nets you xp to use in the Sniper tree. When you use stealth tactics you get xp in the Ghost tree. And if you play run and gun like your typical first person shooter (which I gotta say will prove difficult. You die easily in this game), you get xp in the Warrior tree.
You’ll most likely lean towards one area more then the other but there are some missions that require you to take on a different play style temporarily. Which can prove pretty difficult if you just follow one path.
The upgrades themselves aren’t amazing. You don’t get some crazy abilities as you level each tree up but instead the abilities are more of a compliment to your playstyle. For example spending some xp in the sniper tree can grant you the ability to hold your breath longer, which makes aiming a lot easier. This level up system gives you some options on how you want to play but feels a bit shallow.
Take your time, use your tools
I mentioned a little bit ago, when you plan out your moves the game really tends to shine. You have several tools at your disposal to help you plan out your next move. Your scout mode can help you move through the environment by highlighting interactive objects and climbable ledges. One of my favorite tools is the drone.
Most of your missions involve finding an advantage point and scouting out your target and the surrounding area. The drone is a great for that. It’s a drone that you can fly around and tag enemies and eventually override enemy weapons. When you use it you jump to the point of view of the drone. You can fly right into the midst of things if you want. Until it gets shot down. I’m glad I had this as tagging the enemies made it much easier to see where they were. As I mentioned before it’s hard to see them sometimes thanks to the colorless palette.
This my rifle…
Now onto the namesake here. The sniper rifle. Just like before, it’s a mixed bag but it’s a good mixed bag. When it works, it works really well. You aim using the scope and you can adjust several things on it (depending on the scope). You have to adjust for the distance of the target and for wind strength and direction. These are all factors you have to compensate for. Again, planning and taking your time tends to work better here. When you fire one off and everything works, it’s very satisfying.
On some shots you get a cool slow motion, what I like to call, bullet cam that follows the bullet to it’s target. It’s a cool animation and you get to watch the bullet spin through the air and eventually slam into the target and blood and grit spurts everywhere. Then the guy falls down. It’s very satisfying and one the few elements in the game that I looked forward to.
At the same time sniping gets pretty frustrating as well. Sometimes a well aimed shot just misses for no apparent reason. Or maybe I’m just a terrible sniper. But there were a few times I shot and there was a flash on their body where I figure the bullet hit but didn’t. The only effect it had was giving away my position. Again, when it works, it’s great but it doesn’t always work right.
And… crash… again…
Another frustrating aspect of the game were the crashes. I’m a pretty easy going guy. I put up with hiccups and pop ins and terrible graphics without blinking an eye. But I couldn’t just ignore some of the instances in this game. Sometimes it would freeze. Other times it would just crash entirely and back to the home screen. Always at very inconvenient times of course. There were several missions that I had do over again because of this and it was pretty frustrating.
This is all topped off by the long load times of 4 to 5 minutes. Yup, 4 to 5 mins every time you load into the game or move to a new region. It’s fine once you get in the game (loading is at a minimum otherwise) but it got old real quick. Or slow. Hopefully these are something that will be addressed later but right now it’s a bummer.
I’m afraid there isn’t much to see here. The story is a pretty typical action movie storyline. Brothers get separated and are reunited, you are a one man army, and they even through in the obligatory love interest. As I have said several times already it’s not terrible but it’s nothing great either. Luckily it doesn’t interject itself too much and you’ll spend the majority of your time completing the missions which are the the highlight of the game. .
Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of this here either. Once you go through the campaign and do the side missions there isn’t really much of a reason to come back unless you enjoy the missions. Which can be fun and are the highlight of the game. As of right now there isn’t much more as there is not an online portion of the game. Which, frankly, is a little disappointing. This game could be interesting to play online.
As I mentioned before this game has a common theme of being pretty decent when it works. It’s not going to blow you away (hehe) or anything but it can be pretty fun. There are much worse games out there. And there are much better games out there. This walks that line right in the middle. It’s fun but ultimately pretty forgettable and is marred by several technical issues which I suppose could always be patched at some point but kind of interfere with the experience now.
The gameplay is the highlight of this game. You can play in a few different styles if you want but it definitely catered to planning and scouting before even firing a shot. This game takes a lot of patience to get through both in a good and a bad way.
There are some neat ideas here. And I wanted to like this game but a lot of the technical issues really drew me out of the game. The most memorable times were when I took the time to plan out and scout out the area and tagged all the targets. And after I sniped everyone I went down and cleaned out the rest. It took longer to finish the mission this way but was ultimately more satisfying.
I want to call this a fairly solid game and maybe if some of the technical issues are resolved and online gameplay is added, it could be a pretty solid game. As of right now it’s just mediocre but it has its moments. If you like sniping games such as previous Sniper games or Elite Sniper, you’ll probably like this one.
The good – Sniping can be very satisfying, it has an open world, you can play the game in various ways
The bad – Things don’t always work like they should, story, visuals,sound are all pretty mediocre. No online aspect (yet)
The ugly – Lots of crashing and freezing in my experience and very long load times in parts of the game.