The second big videogame release for sniper fans in a manner of months, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 sees the light of day almost two years after we first saw gameplay footage of the game. We tested it on a Playstation 4 Pro console and a high end PC.
When we first sat down with Ghost Warrior 3’s development team in 2015, we were shown live gameplay but didn’t get any hands-on time. The demo showed us a scenario with multiple possible outcomes and approaches – setting up defenses in strategic locations while covering another approach route with your sniper rifle. It looked impressive, showed us the game had replayability and had us wanting more.
That didn’t come until a year later, but by then we were able to go hands-on with the game as well. New to the game in the playing sense, we stumbled through a mission but proved successful in the end, playing around with a few of the in-game gadgets as we went along. Now, in April of 2017, we finally get to play the entire campaign.
In this campaign, you play as a man who has to prevent a war from breaking out by diffusing a tense situation in present-day Georgia. At the same time, he’s battling with personal demons as he hopes to find his long-lost brother there as well. It’s an interesting setup that would probably also work well in a movie or even novel, but unfortunately the writing in Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 isn’t up to that level. Nevertheless, it’s a premise with exploring despite that shortcoming.
Ghost Warrior 3 is also the first title in the series that is promoted as having had a AAA treatment in terms of production values. This is definitely true of the visuals – which are gorgeous – but can’t be said of the level of polish. This is true for the game’s writing, but also in its technical execution. Load times for missions, at least on the PS4, were up to five minutes long, and serious in-game bugs weren’t rare either. A massive day 1 patch for the game suggests that plenty was fixed before the release, but there’s still a hefty list of bugs to be fixed even post-patch. Performance for the PC version was noticeably better in terms of load times, but bugs remain.
Obviously, Ghost Warrior 3 is going to be compared to Sniper Elite 4. Looking past the technical difficulties in Ghost Warrior 3’s current state, a very similar joy can be found in its core gameplay. Taking out enemies can be done using a mix of three different styles – either sniping from afar, moving in closer and taking enemies out one by one – or forget you’re a sniper and just go in Rambo style. The latter is what we usually did when we failed at the other two options.
Like in Sniper Elite, sniper kills in Ghost Warrior 3 are very satisfying – especially when they’re the result of meticulous planning or a bold and original strategy that comes together. With all the options and gadgets at your disposal (Ghost Warrior 3 takes place in modern time) the game has the potential to go one step deeper than the more arcade/action-oriented Sniper Elite – but the game’s current bugs keep that promise from coming to fruition. Hopefully that’ll be fixed down the line, since there’s a good game here waiting to burst through.
Although mission objectives tend to repeat themselves, their design is mostly excellent – and lend themselves very well to multiple approaches. This was thrilling in the very first demo we saw, and it’s great to see this play out in the final game as well. It’s too bad that a general lack of polish holds back Ghost Warrior 3, since there are some great ideas in there that not even the excellent Sniper Elite 4 has. For now though, that’s the Sniper game we’re sticking with. We’ll definitely check back in with Ghost Warrior 3 again in a few months though – hopefully its promise will have been realized by then. CI Games have already issued a statement showing their dedication to this goal, and we can’t wait – if they succeed, this might just be excellent.