Title: Sniper Ghost Warrior 3
Platform: PC, PS4 and Xbox One (reviewed)
Developer: CI Games
Publisher: CI Games
Release date: Out now
tl;dr: Battlefield, from a sniper’s perspective
Price: £50/$60
Family Focus: Click here for more information.

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 features Jonathan North, a.k.a. Jon, as the game’s protagonist. The game kicks off as Jon and his brother Robert are sent to the Russian-Ukrainian border in order to destroy an abandoned stockpile of bio-weapons before they fall in the wrong hands. Unfortunately, once the North brothers complete their objective, they are caught by a group of highly trained special force soldiers led by a mysterious man named Vasilisk. Two years later, as Jon, players are sent to Georgia in order to eliminate the Georgian Separatist cells. But it’s not the protagonist’s only goal in mind. With hearsay about his brother being seen in the surrounding areas, Jon is determined to find his sibling. 

The game features four acts, all of which are divided into a handful of varied missions, making the game not as repetitive as most FPS. Unlike “traditional,” shooters such as Call of Duty or Battlefield, instead of moving from one chapter to another, each act is set in a different open world setting; sure, it’s not as big as what we’ve seen in a variety of open world games over the course of the last few years, but the areas are wide enough to have to ride around and uncover side-quests and other hidden treasures. Once a mission has been completed, players are free to tackle discovered side-quests or fast travel back to the Safehouse, where they can refill their ammo, craft new items, purchase new weapons, and even take a quick nap.

Contrary to games like Call of Duty where 99% of time all you have to do is run and gun, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 requires a more tactical approach. Your drone, which can be upgraded, can come in quite handy to spot enemies from afar, so you can plan a tactical approach. Not only to avoid becoming a bullet sponge (speaking of which, it doesn’t take much to be taken out), but also to avoid raising alarms, because they’ll sometime cause mission failure.

The problem with it being open world is the driving. Obviously, fast travel points have to be discovered to be unlocked, so before this occurs, players need to drive around from the Safehouse to the objective once a new mission has been selected. Problem is, it’s boring. Like, mind-numbingly boring. Considering the game is mostly set in secluded areas, there’s a lack of life on the road. Sometimes players will come across other drivers, but they can be so dumb that they’ll purposely ram into you.

At first, I thought it was enemy soldiers tracking me, but often times it’s the dumb A.I. just “accidentally,” running into your vehicle. On the flipside, enemy A.I. is quite competent. If you miss your target or your silencer is broken, nearby enemies will hear you and either aggressively charge towards your position or hide in order to force you to change tactics and opt for a more up close and personal fight.

As a trained soldier, Jon North obviously has a vast weaponry at his disposal. At first, players start off with their trusty sniper, along with two sidearms: a machinegun and a handgun. As players complete missions and objectives, they can unlock new weapons in each of the three categories which can be purchased with in-game currency earned through successfully completing missions.

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 features a decent mission variety; completion time of missions can vary between 5 and 30 minutes (or more depending on your stealth skills). While some will require players to simply reach a snipe post, take out the target and leave, others will require some stealth in order to successfully pull off the objective. Stealth based missions will have players use their head as they usually have more than one way to be tackled. Bigger missions require the use of the Drone in order to tag enemies and find various entry points. Every time I finished a mission, I wanted to keep playing in order to see what was next; even after long play sessions and failing stealth based missions, I kept retrying from different perspective.

As with anything in life, practice makes perfect. As you progress through the game, whether it be taking out enemy soldiers quietly or even unlocking Fast Travel points, players earn XP in three different categories: Sniper, Ghost and Warrior. All the different trees can unlock additional skills, or improve Jon North’s current ones. For example, the Sniper skill tree can allow Jon to hold his breath longer while sniping. On the other hand, Ghost can increase North’s health and allow players to auto-loot dead enemies, among other things. Finally, the Warrior skills include improved crafting and cheaper items at the Safehouse.

Players can loot fallen enemies to find useful items; although they’ll rarely find ammo, they will often find part which can be used back at the Safehouse on the crafting table. Players can craft different type of ammo (explosive, regular, among others), or health packs to help survive through the various firefights. Additionally, the Safehouse is also where players can purchased unlocked weapons and modify them. All weapons and gear can be modified as well, like the handy Drone, for example, can last longer or be used from further away.

The game’s presentation is overall hit or miss. While the environments look pretty good with the vegetation being “shiny,” and the high level of details in the weaponry, when scoping enemies from afar with the sniper, they can look a bit drab and bland, with not much detail. I fully understand it’s not necessary, but it would’ve a nice touch considering that when zooming in on things, they should look the same as up close.

Gameplay wise, characters are very much hit or miss. Some NPCs whom North interacts with look pretty good; let’s say early current-gen, however others seem to be straight out of last-gen. Their facial expression are non-existent; hell some don’t even move their lips while they talk. Cinematics look pretty decent; could be mistaken for early PS4/Xbox One generation. Audio wise, there’s nothing to “write home about,” as the score is pretty forgetful and the voiceover work is decent at best. NPCs sound boring and bland. Troy Hall does a convincing job as Jon North and Evgeniya Radilova does a decent job as North’s companion, but she sometimes sounds emotionless.

The main gripe I have with SGW3 is the loading times… which are unusually long for a game of this generation. While they don’t happen every so often, the worst loading times comes from every time you boot up the game; we’re talking roughly 2-3 minutes of loading. That’s crazy long for today’s standards. Thankfully, reloading a checkpoint after a death isn’t as long; roughly 30 seconds and you’re back in action.

If you can overlook Sniper Ghost Warrior 3’s lackluster presentation, you’ll find an enjoyable and challenging experience with CI Games’ latest outing in the Sniper Ghost Warrior franchise. The game features a decent variety of missions along with a nice arsenal of weaponry. It also mixes stealth with more action sequences quite well, in the sense while some missions require complete stealth, others can be tackled head on. If you’re looking for a different experience while we wait for the yearly Call of Duty, you can’t go wrong with Sniper Ghost Warrior 3.

The Good

  • Great weapon variety
  • Varied missions
  • Intriguing story

The Bad

  • Looooooooooong loading times
  • Mind-numbingly boring driving
  • Bullet-sponge enemies

Family Focus

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is rated M for Mature and PEGI18 as it contains blood, drug references, gore, sexual themes, strong language and violence.

This review is based on a review copy of the game provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.