Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 has been a long time coming. Initially announced back in 2014 the game was re-announced in 2015 and we were given the first details about the game and its new direction, but is this new direction a refreshing take on the series and the stealth shooter overall, or is it firing blanks?

Since its announcement I’ve been pretty excited about Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, but as more and more information came out about the game my excitement has waned slightly. I’ll be completely honest here, I struggled to find the drive to play Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 compared to other games that are out right now. But alas, I pushed on and what I found was a robust open world shooter with plenty of freedom of choice, but little in the way of revolutionary features.

So here’s the deal. CI Games decided this time to take the games name literally. Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 offers three styles of gameplay with the player choosing whatever direction they want to take with the game. You’ve got Sniper, where players can spend time seeking out sniper spots and popping off the enemy one after another. Then there’s Ghost, this is for those who’d rather sneak around with a silenced pistol or a knife quietly taking down the enemy. And finally, there’s Warrior, where players can dive in with their fully automatic weapon and take down enemies with force.

Offering such a freedom of play is interesting, especially considering the Sniper Ghost Warrior series has been considered a pretty robust sniping game, and straying away from its sniping core could certainly be celebrated by fans not too keen on a strictly sniping experience, however I found that trying to do anything but sniping seemed to be a huge risk with rarely ever paid off.

Previously the Sniper Ghost Warrior games were fairly linear featuring a set path with set waypoints. Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 on the other hand gives all control to the player. With the ability to follow a set course of missions, players can also head out into the world taking on side missions, discovering new areas, and unlocking fast travel points. This level of freedom should definitely be applauded as it’s pretty well done, however once you’ve completed four or five missions, what’s to follow is pretty much a copy and paste job. While the past games were linear, at least there you had a sense of direction.

The game pretty much goes as follows. Beginning at the safe house, you pick a mission, drive to the mission location, scout the location with the drone, kill enemies, leave the location, head back to safe house, rinse and repeat. While these missions progress a story of a brother seeking redemption, the story is hardly… thrilling. There is some variety to the context of each mission, but for the most part, you’re a silent (or not so) assassin taking down enemies.

Set in a fictional location in the country of Georgia, you’ll find yourself deep in the heart of a location surrounded by thick forests, swamps, and dirt roads all of which lead through various little towns and compounds, some of which are populated by civilians, others populated by the enemy. The environment is rich with little details that you can’t help but oggle at as you drive by, however in some respects its not unlike Ghost Recon Wildlands.

This is actually something I found a lot with Sniper Ghost Warrior 3. It seems the game includes various features and mechanics cherry-picked from other games, like the often tedious bullet time, also found in the Sniper Elite series (though at least in Sniper Elite it’s accompanied by the X-Ray shots), there’s also drone recon not unlike Ghost Recon Wildlands, there are also essences of Far Cry 3 thrown in there too. There’s something about Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 that feels so familiar, but it just doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head in terms of creating a great open world shooter.

You could perhaps counteract this slight staleness with the game’s multiplayer mode, but of course CI Games hasn’t launched that mode yet. Apparently this staggered launch was intentional to not take attention from the campaign, but there are plenty of other things out there to do that to be honest and a multiplayer mode might have actually kept me glued to the game.

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 does have some interesting mechanics going for it, like the ability to personally configure your loadout at the safe house, including purchasing individual bullets. This is something you HAVE to do before each mission as your bullet count never regenerates automatically. If you go out and spend all of your bullets and forget to purchase more, you’re going to have a bad time. Also, weapon degradation is a thing, specifically with silencers which wear down over time and need repairing.

This also leads onto the pretty robust weapon crafting system wherein you can compile together a series of attachments and weapons to create the perfect rifle for the mission at hand. While CI Games didn’t reveal any numbers, there are a ton of weapon combinations available to the player in the game, however I personally didn’t feel the need to explore any of these options as the starting sniper rifle was pretty adequate throughout my time with the game.

The game also has a pretty good levelling system which plays on the players’ strenghts. If you find that you’re going in loud more often than sniping or doing silent take-downs, you’ll earn more Warrior skill points to make this style of play a little more intuitive. The same goes for the other two styles of play offering perks for each play style. Working on balancing out all three of these skills is the difficult part, if that’s something you want to do, that is.

What can’t go without mentioning however is the games incredibly unacceptable load times, even this far after release. Upon starting the game you’ll find that you’ll be sitting waiting for the game to load for at least three to five minutes, and this isn’t an over-exaggeration, the game really takes an age to load. Unlocking new regions are also rewarded with this unpleasant load time. I’d understand if the game was exceptionally graphically intensive, but it’s not.

I wanted Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 to be a truly great sniping game but what I found was a fairly generic-feeling game which I had no real ambition to play. The story wasn’t particularly gripping, and the gameplay was an uninspired example of a first person shooter. Sure, your first hour with the game might seem like a thrilling experience taking down enemies from 200+ metres, but soon the tedium of shooting the same generic bad guy over and over again will slowly wear this excitement down to a dull “eh”.

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