I think it’s fair to say that on release, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 received a somewhat lukewarm reception. Despite this, CI Games have pressed on with a program of DLC, and the latest piece, entitled The Sabotage, is now available to owners of the season pass. Does it improve on the base game, or is it just more of the same? Come with me to Georgia in order to find out!
The story of The Sabotage deals with the fate of Robert, the brother of the main game’s protagonist who is kidnapped at the end of the prologue. The rest of the game plays out as a hunt for Robert. The DLC opens with him trying to come to terms with what’s happened to him since he was kidnapped by Sergi Flostov, who has been brainwashing him and trying to turn him against his former government. Now obviously I’m going to try and steer clear of any story spoilers in the course of this review, so rest easy.
The new story arc for the DLC includes five brand new story missions, and a couple of side missions to accomplish. These missions play out in a new area of the map, with new locations such as military bases and cemeteries. There’s even a mission that plays out at the funeral of a previous victim, which provides an interesting setting for a gun battle, as the enemies scurry hither and yon through the headstones. This particular mission is an example of a new mission type that is premiered here, where Robert is tasked with defending a location for a set period, or until a set number of enemies have been eliminated. In addition to this, Robert’s adherence to the cause of the Georgian Separatists brings in a new open world event, where he is tasked with rescuing captured Separatists. It isn’t that new to be honest, seeing a group of prisoners held by armed guards who have to be shown the error of their ways before the prisoners can be set free. The main game saw Jonathan doing a very similar mission type, but to be fair, the NPCs weren’t labelled as Separatists. So yeah, it is totally new.
The progression and XP earning of the main game has gone as well for this DLC, replaced by Robert having some sort of breakdown, which is treated with a single press of the “X” button, to see him take his medication. A helpful side effect of this medication is that at set points in the story, Robert is gifted extra Health, or Stamina and so on. It feels very artificial if I’m honest, and seems to be way of shoehorning in character progression – but only when the developers want you to have progression, and only in the way they want as well. Still, a few extra HP will really help with this DLC, as the difficulty has been ramped up considerably.
The enemies are now hyper vigilant, and also seemingly blessed with X-ray vision, as being in a bush or behind a wall is no protection from the enemies if you raise their suspicions. The snipers on the enemy side are absolutely ridiculous, able to spot me through solid granite outcrops on a mountain, before sending a bullet through my left eye the instant I inched out of cover to try and get a bead on them. The drone was also oddly ineffectual this time around, being spotted almost the instant that I sent it up and then coming back down to earth in a hail of bullets. Even when it wasn’t spotted, getting the enemies to be marked using the drone was more difficult than in the base game, and quite often it didn’t spot everyone, leading to nice surprises as I crept through an enemy base.
Sadly, the DLC hasn’t addressed one of the largest issues with the main game – the length of loading times when you start your adventure, or even when restarting from a checkpoint. It still takes a good four minutes to launch the game (including an optimistic 45 seconds where the screen says “Game Starting”). Having to restart a checkpoint is also painful, and with the raised difficulty level, this was a delay that I had to see more than I would have liked. Other than this, the DLC is pretty much business as usual, and the only changes appear to be cosmetic. For instance, the player model doesn’t look or feel any different, apart from when you get behind the wheel of the new Armoured Lada vehicle, where it becomes apparent that Robert has a tattoo on his right forearm. The armour of the Armoured Lada seems to have been made of cardboard, as it didn’t seem to offer any more protection when driving near enemies than the regular car in the vanilla game.
What does make a difference is the new 23 Society suit and gun that can be be unlocked. The suit offers a great deal of ballistic protection, and the gun, a semi automatic, is a .50cal sniper rifle with an enormous magazine. This gun is frankly ridiculous, and makes the final mission of the DLC a complete piece of cake. Seriously, this weapon is like the bit in Evil Dead 3, where Ash shouts “This is my boom stick!” and everyone cowers. Thats how the rifle made me feel every time I fired it. Shooting people through walls? No problem. In fact I earned the achievement for doing just that using this gun in the DLC, so that’s one good thing to be said for it!
In short then, the story of this Sniper Ghost Warrior – The Sabotage DLC is enough to make me recommend that you play it, at least if you enjoyed the main game. Seeing the story from another perspective, and seeing what Robert goes through to turn him into the Ahmadzai persona lends a certain amount of sympathy to his character. However, there’s not enough here to turn a non-fan into a fan, so if you didn’t like the vanilla game, then I have to recommend that you stay away.