The Sniper Ghost Warrior series of games have certainly made a name and reputation for themselves. That reputation being, sadly, “that bunch of games that aren’t as good as the Sniper Elite ones”. By and large, this is very true. However, this doesn’t stop CI Games from continuing to try and in recent years, their efforts have started to pay dividends.
Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts and the sequel – Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 – are much, much improved from their earlier efforts, and have reviews on this very website should you wish to check them out. However, the subject of today’s Looking Back article is the third in the series, the aptly named Sniper Ghost Warrior 3.
Traditionally I like to start these articles with a brief recap of the story of the game, and I see no reason to change that here. In Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 we play as a U.S.Marine Captain, Jonathan North, and in the beginning of the game we are sent, along with our brother, to the Russain/Ukrainian border to destroy some bio weapons before terrorists can get their hands on them. We succeed in this mission, but sadly are then captured by a man called Vasilisk and his group of special forces soldiers; knocked unconscious as our brother, Robert, is captured.
Of course, we want to find out what happened to our brother, and so when a new mission in the same area crops up, we are all in before you can say Jack Robinson. What follows is an exercise in story writing straight out of the Bumper Book of Shooting Cliches, involving brainwashing, double crosses, a shock expose about Robert, and finally a scene of redemption as (spoiler alert) Robert sacrifices himself to save us and the rest of the free world. What a guy. It’s fair to say that the narrative isn’t going to give the competition any sleepless nights.
The big thing that sticks out in my mind with the release of Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 in 2017, at least after the inevitable glitches which I will chat about later, is the breadth of the ambition that CI Games were showing. You see, the previous games in the series had been quite linear affairs, with tightly defined objectives and narrow areas to perform your actions in. With the advent of Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, the series burst into glorious freedom, with a big open world to explore and a variety of ways to approach the missions you were given.
In an interesting move, the game didn’t hold your hand to much degree – if you wanted to know where to go for a mission, you had to perform intel gathering missions, either by capturing enemies and interrogating them, or, more riskily, by flexing your little drone around to see what you could spot in the landscape. The drone did cause almost as many problems as it solved, as all the enemies appear to have been issued with hearing aids turned up to 11, and flying anywhere near them resulted in not only the drone being shot down, but in the enemies being on alert as they would come to look for you. Better then to take out a few enemies before gripping the few survivors and asking them nicely what they knew.
Now, obviously, in an open world you are going to need to have more to do than just the main missions, and luckily CI Games had us covered here. There are a number of safe houses to find, and these can be fast travelled between once they are located. In a nice move, there is also a car available that you can go joy riding around the place in, which certainly saved on the wear and tear on the shoe leather. However, the appearance of a noisy metal box with a hard as nails looking soldier type usually didn’t go unnoticed, and the vehicle quickly becomes a bullet magnet if you go near an enemy. In addition to the main missions, there were also some side missions to find and complete, called “War Crimes”, which can be investigated to help you to level up.
In an interesting move, the way that you fought the enemies affected how your character levelled up, with three distinct skill trees to be improved upon. The first was Sniper, which you gained XP in by performing headshots from a million miles away, then there was Warrior, which was raised by being aggressive and fighting up close with secondary weapons. The last skill tree was Ghost, which you ranked up by utilising stealth and killing enemies without being seen. This system worked well, as you could concentrate on whichever style of play you enjoyed most.
The sniping action on display here was very good, with as much or as little realism as you wanted to test yourself. At full on hardcore level, it seemed like even your choice of breakfast cereal could make a difference to the shot, with breathing, wind, gravity and a host of other factors to take into account; this certainly scratched the tactical itch.
However, not all was rosy in the garden, as the traditional Sniper Ghost Warrior issues were still around. When playing for review, falling through the world and getting stuck in the scenery was common, and often the only way to free yourself was to begin the level again, which never got old. Lighter hearted glitches involved trying to interrogate invisible enemies, having no sound, and at one point spawning without a visible weapon. Luckily, a lot of these issues were addressed after launch, and now the game is much more playable. I’d still steer you towards the Contracts games though, as they are altogether better experiences.
So these are my memories of playing Sniper Ghost Warrior 3. Did you play at launch, or at any time afterwards? What are your abiding memories? Do you agree that Contracts and Sniper Elite 4 are all round better? Let us know in the comments!
If you haven’t played Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, you’ll find it on the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S. It’s also available on PlayStation and PC.