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Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 Review (PS4)

Jon North and his brother Robert are sent in on a mission to destroy some bio-weapons. When things go both right and wrong all at once, Jon gets beaten and his brother take. Now, with an opportunity to enter on a mission that could also give him a chance to save his brother. Will you successfully snipe your way through this vast environment and accomplish all you set out to do?

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 Review

Introduction

Who doesn't get a huge thrill from sniping from one apartment complex to another some 200 meters away, nailing the intended target in the head as he's smoking a cigarette, or maybe even getting a two-for-one while being perched up on the side of a cliff from 300 meters? Almost nobody. Sniping (while being at least halfway decent at it) is one of the most entertaining gameplay styles available for players who enjoy shooter titles. Nearly every title has a sniper in one form or another. While the pure sniping genre isn't very crowded, players can tell when they get a quality experience from a game. Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, developed and published CI Games, successfully pulls some aspects off but fails to do so in every facet. If this isn't your first review you've read about the game then you know it's already been slammed by some for technical issues (which I will go over as well) but let me also explain to you some of the good things.

The game includes a free season pass which will release single player and multiplayer expansions in the future. You can buy the game for PlayStation 4 ($59.99), or PC ($32.41).

Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 Official Launch Trailer

Story

Starting out as a young boy just laying in the dirt trying to blast a couple bottles with his small rifle, it's evident early on that you, Jon North, were destined to be a trained military sniper someday. Older brother, Robert, is already in the military but most likely a fresh recruit. The two reminisce on old times playing hide-and-seek in the woods together, before Jon shows Robert that he's a lot more skilled at being stealthy than when they were younger. Fast forwarding some time in the future, both are trained Marines and are sent on a mission in the rocky hills of the Russian-Ukraine border to sabotage bio-weapons. As events unfold, the two successfully complete their mission, but evacuation goes wrong, and Robert is taken hostage. The story continues 2 years later as Jon hears about his brother being somewhere in Georgia, so it works in his favor that he is given an assignment to infiltrate and destabilize terrorists organizations within. With the help of some close friends (and an ex lover) Jon ventures forth to save the world from terrorist threats and save his brother from captivity.

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 Drone Scouting

Gameplay

Breaking the mold of prior Sniper Ghost Warrior titles, SGW3 tries out the open-world style, and for the most part it succeeds. Asides from the main missions, players can find multiple side quests and landmarks around the map to experiment with. These will vary in objectives or they will simply be loot for you to collect. It's not essential that you complete them or explore the world outside of the main story missions, but imagine an "open-world" that didn't have something on the side to do. It's worth testing out when they cross your path though as some are pretty interesting. Maybe you pull off on the side of the road while driving the SUV around when you notice a question mark nearby. You'll occasionally rescue hostages, snipe high profile targets (in the form of a "Most Wanted" system), and be tasks with going Rambo on a small base or outpost. In total, you can find a dozen or so hours worth at least just getting through the main missions as there are a couple dozen of those, which is a decent amount.

The sniping, which makes up the heart and soul of the game works in just about what you could expect. You'll traverse the environment looking for the best spots to strategical rain hell on your enemy one bullet at a time. Verticality is handled nicely with a repelling feature and by grabbing ledges as to shimmy from side to side or to jump to another ledge. These ledges are not the easiest to see; I jumped into a pit for loot early on and was stuck for a few minutes before I remembered a neat feature. You get a kind of sixth sense that hazes the screen slightly, highlighting these points of interests. When you need to scout the area, you'll throw out a drone (exactly like Ghost Recon Wildlands but with a few handling differences). The drone is ridiculously touchy and sways more than I would like. It was annoying how it didn't feel like I had ultimate control on it, but I got used to it after a couple hours of play.

Once the targets are marked, or you choose to recon via the scope on your rifle, you are just about ready to pull the trigger. It helps to make adjustments such as scope zoom and the distance it's set to for bullet drop. Using the directional pads will do both, which was actually really cool looking. Both adjusters are located on the side of the scope, in view when you're looking down the sight, so when you press one of the directional buttons, Jon reaches up and clicks it accordingly. If you're playing on the easier difficulties then when you hold your breath, a small yellow circle will appear showing where the bullet will go based on wind and drop. When you line this up on the enemy perfectly it will turn red. This is when the trigger gets pulled and you watch it strike the enemy from however far away you are. Do this enough times and you can progress along a skill tree for three self explanatory categories (Ghost, Warrior, and Sniper).

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 Sniping Truck Driver

Sound and Graphics

Right as the game loads up you'll hear the foreign music that correlates to the respected region you'll be traversing in and if that's your cup of tea then great, but Jon will express not long after listening to it in the vehicle that it needs to be turned off. Sound effects that you'll hear (or won't hear) are all over the place. Instead of listing what doesn't sound right, I'll tell you what does; gunshots and the bullets as they pierce through the target's skull. Those are, for the most part, the only consistent and polished sounds available. Running across land or water will sound like the opposite, the lack of sensing distance when wolves are howling, and the lackluster sound effects from vehicles both ground and air. 
Voice acting was not amazing, but I've definitely heard worse. One major problem I had was when I was beginning my journey in Georgia and I exited the vehicle to checkout what the map markers were, and I could hear Jon having a conversation with Frank on the radio, but Frank's voice was not audible. It was completely quiet except for when Jon was talking. This lasted a few minutes as I tried to piece together the friendly banter. I reset the game, and didn't experience it again but I wouldn't be surprised if others experience the same thing.

Graphically the world is gorgeous when you look at it the right way. When you travel through the dense woods or within buildings, everything appears smooth and detailed. Expanding your horizons, and looking into a valley, for example, will allow you to see how short the draw distance is. To be fair it's not exactly "short," but in an open-world game like this, you would expect to see details for the furthest of environment corners. Character models look great as well, especially the enemy characters as the long ranged shots close in on their bodies. I would have liked to see even greater attention to the slow motion bullet cam though, similar to the Sniper Elite titles. Occasionally the bullets would pierce through an enemies neck when I was very sure it should have been through the temple, and vice versa. It just felt a tad disconnected but not seeing a skeletal camera it's hard to always tell.

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 Scouting the Satellite Buildings

Conclusion

There are bugs, glitches, and other technical issues scattered throughout the world in Sniper Ghost Warrior 3. For the most part I'm sure they can all be fixed with some patch work, but that is up to the studio to deliver. Trying to look at everything aside from these issues, the game is not as bad as I was believing it would be prior to going into it. I hated the drone mechanics (perhaps because Ghost Recon Wildlands did such a great job with this) due to the extreme swaying and lack of control I felt I had of the thing. Shooting was top notch for sniping, especially when you give the harder difficulties a try. The A.I is pretty inconsistent with what they can or cannot detect, and you never know which of the two it will be, ultimately leading to inconsistent rhythm. 

The graphics are gorgeous, especially in the dense woods. However, the game suffers from draw distance constraints. The hills across a valley lack details that would make for an incredible immersion, and this problem extends to scope usage with pop-ins. Again there are issues with the game, but there is still a lot to love, just maybe not for the current price. It includes a season pass which will later provide more single-player expansions, as well as multiplayer opportunity. It's not at all a terrible title, and in fact could be looked at as a knockoff Far Cry mixed with Ghost Recon Wildlands ambitions. Let it go on sale and watch for patch notes in the future to make sure you're getting a polished experience, and it'll be well worth giving a shot at.

ProsCons
 + Ambitious, and somewhat delivers
 – Many bugs and technical issues as of launch
 + Strong sniping mechanics
 – Texture pops and lack of draw distance
 + Some gorgeous environments 
 – Inconsistent enemy AI
 – Long load times
6.5
Fair

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