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Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 Review: No poetry in slow motion

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During the 26-mission campaign in Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, I went from infiltrating a mob wedding to scouting a block of abandoned flats for a drone which took me hours to find. There is an equal amount of everything in Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, and it was this unique gameplay that I loved the most. Bar the terrible cliche and boring story. I went from holding my breath and taking down an enemy 300 meters away from me, to pulling out an AK47 and filling them all with led. I did not expect this sort of diversity while playing the game, and when I needed to go loud compared to silent but deadly in the distance, it worked out just fine. 

Sniper Ghost Warrior sees you take on the role of Jonathan North who gets involved in a civil war in a Georgian countryside. While this plays as the main host of the opening act, you will find yourself going around different locations throughout the game's act-based campaign. Jonathan's main goal in the game is to search for his brother who was kidnapped after a mission gone wrong, but the story never fully plays out as dramatically as it begins. Some parts and characters felt too cliche to be noticeable, and the whole premise felt dull from the opening act. While the narrative might be lacking, the game does make up for it with a great collection of mechanics that makes you feel like one badass sniper. 

Slow and steady

Every act takes you to a new location, and instead of littering the world with objectives, you select a mission and head off to that area to complete it. Every mission can be completed in any way you want, and there are no restrictions to how you approach the objective.  Keeping your distance and taking some enemies out one by one from 200 meters away is great, but you can also do that and then head into a compound with a loud assault rifle and clean things up. Not before you scan the area with a wobbly drone first though. I always found that the sniper route was best for most missions and it felt awesome as my bullet went through the mercenaries head. 

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At times I would plan my way into an area and then pick off the enemies along the way. The real feature is how versatile the game is in terms of how you can go about this in any way. The tools at your disposal also make a big difference like the drone that can fly around and tag enemies, as well as the night vision goggles and grenades. While most of these cool devices are barely used when going the sniper and silent route when the game messes up, or I did, then they come in handy during close quarter fights. Needless to say, the missions are all exciting to some degree, and the game never feels too repetitive to want to stop playing and move onto something else. Your safe house acts as a hub for all things you need. Here I crafted ammo, equipped new guns, and kept up to date on the mission I was on and what I have done in the game. Sleeping would advance time, and the skill system in the game would change the way I would approach a new mission and gear loadout. 

Character growth is a drag

Skills are only unlocked depending on how you play, so "Ghost" is mainly for silent approaches, and I levelled the "Warrior" trees faster when I went in guns blazing. The only thing here is that most of the time, well maybe the entire game, I felt that the skill trees were just there, and I never felt compelled to unlock any of the skills. With nine skills in each tree, it never felt like anything worth investing in and some of the skills only helped at times like the 50% bigger loot and gadget slots. The thing here is that the best skills were often in the skill tree I never unlocked, so it was a case of me losing out on them. The same can be said for the weapons and gadgets, as I never changed any of it and stayed with the starting sniper until half way through the game. You unlock new weapons and mods after missions, but the starting stuff felt great, and when I did change equipment I failed the mission due to the silencer being weaker than the last, which led to it breaking. 

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While the shooting and sniper feeling is on point in Ghost Warrior 3, the game does suffer from some lacklustre moments. The open world feels like a Fallout 4 DLC as it is filled with nothing but a dead wasteland of sadness. Going out of the safe house and heading towards a mission was a drab, with next to no collectables or activities to complete along the way. It was literally a case of "drive to the mission, complete it, go back, select another one and rinse and repeat". While there are some visually appealing moments, the safe house looks gorgeous but other than that the world is dull and lifeless. The CryEngine has not had a good run with this generation of consoles it seems as Homefront: The Revolution also suffered from the same bland look and feel. I did not come into contact with many bugs, besides some NPC glitches that saw people running around in a circle.

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In the end Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is a great shooting game, but its story and its underwhelming open world left me in a dull state of mind. It has a Far Cry feel to it when running around the large open area, but nothing to keep you busy besides the handful of missions and some collectables. Its story is uninspired too and left me needing more. However underneath it all there is a great sniper game here if you can get past all the features that hold the game back. 

Available on: PS4, PC, Xbox One | Reviewed on: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 25 April 2017

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