Some games offer a wide and varied experience that takes you places you’d never thought they’d go; the renowned Spec Ops: The Line would be one of those. Others, well…others are exactly what they say on the tin. Yooka-Laylee is essentially a Banjo-Kazooie romhack. Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove is really just more Ducktales (that’s not a bad thing).
So what of CI Games’ Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3? Well, here’s a game about sniping and very little else. If that sounds like something you’d be down for, read on.
After a mission in enemy territory goes wrong, sibling special forces soldiers Jon and Robert North are separated after Rob is taken captive and Jon is nearly killed. Years later, Jon joins up with another secret mission. This time he’s heading into Georgia, where he hopes to find news of Rob while taking out terrorists.
I’d like to say there’s a lot more to the game than that, but, well…sometimes you get exactly what’s on the box. You are a sniper. You run around sneakily, like a ghost. You’re in the middle of a war, so you’re a warrior. Sniper: Ghost Warrior. Three.
It’s not the most inspiring story by any means, but you certainly do all the sorts of things you’d expect a sniper to do. These include recon, typically using your drone a la Ghost Recon: Wildlands; you’ll then infiltrate the position you just scouted, keeping an eye out for ideal sniper spots along the way. Once you’re there, you’ll pull out the gun and get to shootin’.
Lower difficulty levels offer several sniping assists options, most notably a secondary sight that compensates for wind and drag, while higher difficulty levels require a greater level of mastery. Getting into direct conflict is typically a bad idea, so you’ll want to get a handle on things quickly.
When you aren’t actively taking out baddies, you can explore the game’s open world to find the usual open world collectibles and complete the usual open world sidequests. I know the “in” thing right now is to hate on open world games, but I didn’t have too many problems with what’s offered here. For a game that encourages preparation and forethought, having the freedom to come up with your own approach is a good thing. You’ve got a vast and interesting selection of weapons and gear that allows you to mix up how you handle problems; these include my beloved exploding sniper rounds, which may be reason enough to buy this game all by themselves. I’m a simple man with simple tastes. Kaboom.
What’s less of a good thing: Ghost Warrior the Third’s approach to cutscenes and storytelling. I’m not talking about the themes or anything; as is typical for video games, this is YA fiction-level work, this time in crunchy Tom Clancy flavor. Nah, I’m referring to the graphics and (possible?) motion capture. Characters look like animated mannequins pretending to be human, which would be great in a game that’s actually about that kind of thing like BioShock or Condemned: Criminal Origins; not so much here. We’ve reached the uncanny valley and got about halfway over the bridge to crossing it before it fell through and we plummeted into the Awkward Abyss. Check out the intro sometime on YouTube. It’s a must-see for many of the wrong reasons.
Questionable cutscenes aside, the game actually looks damn good. Especially on a good PC. It really nails environments, from a distance characters don’t look too bad and it runs splendidly well on my Titan X Pascal and 7700K. Yyyyyyeah. I’m not exactly the representative sample here, in other words, and from what I’ve heard the game generally has performance issues on PC and is a nightmare on consoles particularly with regard to load times. If you’ve got a beefy rig to give the game the power it needs, however, Ghost Warrior 3 looks and sounds great outside of cinematics.
Long story short, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 is a game that advertises what it wants to do right in the title. If you feel like doing some good old-fashioned marksmanship and don’t care about being treated to the latest indie masterpiece about crying or whatever, you might not hate this sniper-centric thriller. If you want a little more narrative substance, though, or if you’re limited to playing only on console, you might want to think twice.