Sniper Ghost Warrior is back for a third time and looks to further develop on its game mechanics to satisfy its hardcore audience, while at the same time bringing newbies into the fold.
Now I’ll admit that I’ve never played a game in the series before, even so far to remotely look at any videos or materials that relate to past titles, however this allowed me to also come at this 3rd iteration completely fresh and it seems that each game follows its own campaign that doesn’t require me to backtrack.
The game kicks off with you playing the Campaign’s prologue mission and taking the role of Marine Captain Jonathan "Jon" North, who along with his brother Robert, is sent to the Russian-Ukrainian border to destroy an abandoned stockpile of Soviet-era bio-weapons before they're stolen by terrorists. The two succeed in their mission, but are ambushed by an unidentified group of Special Forces soldiers, led by a man named Vasilisk who plays a game of Russian roulette with Jon before knocking him out and capturing Robert.
Two years later, Jon is sent to Georgia to help destabilize the local Georgian Separatist cells, which are reported to be receiving an abnormally high level of funding and resources. Jon accepted the assignment with the hidden agenda of locating his brother Robert, after hearing intelligence chatter placing him in the region. He is assisted by his JSOC handler Frank Simms, a Georgian Loyalist ex-special forces sniper named Lydia with whom he was formerly in a romantic relationship, and Israeli Mossad agent Raquel, who is in the region looking to capture and recruit a Russian scientist named Sergei Flostov whom she believes is being held by the Separatists.
The entire story is split up into acts with each act containing several missions to complete. Missions can vary from assassinating those who are on the War Crimes list or securing a package. This takes place in the fictional open world of Georgia and can be traversed either by foot, car or using one of the handy travel points which you’ll find dotted around the world.
When looking to go out there and make your mark, you’ll be making all you preparations from your safe house which you can start missions from, sleep to pass time, develop new ammo and better equip Jon to handle anything that comes his way.
During missions there are a few gameplay mechanics that look to further involve you in the action. The one you’ll be using the most is Scout Mode, which allows you to mark enemies, places/ objects of interest and potential locations where you can snipe from, though in most cases it’s much simpler to use the droid as it can float and scout out the entire mission location, within a reasonable distance from the player.
Depending how you complete missions, you can invest in three specific skill trees; Sniper, Ghost and warrior. I’m sure you can figure out what kind of play style would attribute to which, however at the same time it does show that some thought was put into how certain players may go about certain objectives as I’m sure that not everyone has the patience to sit back and wait for the perfect opportunity to dispatch their enemies from a distance.
One of my biggest downers has got to be the load times. Getting into a mission the first time can take almost forever and if you die, replaying it doesn’t seem to do much to speed it up. It really takes away from a breath taking moment or encounter when you have to wait an excruciatingly long amount of time to get back into the action.
I actually did enjoy my time with Sniper Ghost Warrior, but I believe its biggest issue aside from the head banging load times is the fact that it doesn’t do anything to really separate itself from other games in its genre or in this case, take something and produce its own spin on it.
Yes the sniping aspect is absolutely awesome, but apart from that, the game doesn’t really have much else going for it and unfortunately I did get bored rather quickly. It’s a shame as it was just missing that little bit extra which would have definitely pushed it to the level which I’m sure CI Games wanted it at.
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