Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is a slow game. In a lot of areas, this is a really good thing. In some areas, it causes it to struggle a little bit. Where this game really excels is the methodically approach that you must take to efficiently play the game; a benefit of being a slower paced game. The story, however, feels dragged out in areas and takes time to get to a point where it’s easy to be invested in the conflict.
None of this is to say that Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 has a bad story — it is actually very compelling when it gets going. The game is centered around Jon North, a Marine captain with a specialty for long distance combat engagements and tracking hard to find individuals. After an incident early on where Jon’s brother Robert is taken captive, Jon takes an assignment in Georgia. A group of Georgian separatists have been causing a commotion within the country and aim to destabilize the government for reasons later revealed. Most important to Jon is the fact that the person responsible for the kidnapping of his brother belongs to one of the terrorist groups in Georgia, so you end up playing as a sort of double agent. Progressing further in the campaign helps reveal key figures responsible for the events that took place during the starting hours of the game, as well as events that unfold as you are playing. Like I mentioned above, the game starts out very slow. Once act two starts up is when the story starts to become really intriguing, which could take a few hours or more to reach, depending on your playstyle and what side-quests you choose to take part in. From that point on, the story becomes much more enthralling thanks to a few important reveals and a couple of plot-twists.
The most solid aspect of Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is the gameplay. Where most shooters take the run-and-gun approach, this game instead encourages players to slow down and think more tactfully. You have the option to run into a mission equipped with a semi-automatic rifle and try and take out all of the guards, but you will be shot down long before you have reached your goal. Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 gives you tools such as the drone to fly above enemy encampments and visualize where the guards are, what their patrol routes are, and how best to reach your objective. Most of the locations you visit have geographic features that allow you to climb your way to a sniping point that gives you a clear shot of the handful of guards. No one sniping spot that I’ve utilized has put every enemy in my line of sight, and the game uses that to encourage players to keep moving to different spots. To avoid detection, all of your shots need to be spot on or the enemies will become aware of your presence. The pitfall here is that when you miss a shot, the enemy is typically alerted to the players exact location. I’m sure this was done to make the game less about just picking enemies off from a distance and more about learning to take the time and assess the variables before taking your shot. Otherwise, the fact that enemies can pinpoint your location from just a missed shot can be frustrating — especially when they start firing mortars.
The shooting mechanics feel great. Since the game revolves around taking out enemies from across the map, the game puts more emphasis on things like bullet drop and how much wind affect trajectory. It’s very rare that you can just put your red dot on the enemy and the bullet hits them perfectly in that spot. When the wind kicks up, you have to compensate how far it will shift the bullet. The game does not do this for you unless you are playing on a easier difficulty and you hold your breath to focus and steady your shot. This is equally true for bullet drop. Most scopes allow you to change the distance, and easier difficulties give you a range finder to help you see just how far off an enemy is. Adjusting your scope’s distance is something that we don’t see in the majority of shooters, and it allows the players easily get wrapped up in the fantasy that they are a master level sniper. While there isn’t an extensive system in terms of tutorials to teach players how to compensate for wind, and other aspects of the game, (strangely) most of the simple actions feel intuitive. There is an evident lack of tutorials, so learning how to do actions other than basic movement and aiming will have to be learned through less conventional methods. If you are able to make a significant shot, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 treats you to a great scene of your bullet flying through the air in slow motion where it eventually makes lethal contact with the unlucky fella on the other end. It’s worth mentioning that there is a limited number of angles that the game takes this shot at, but I never got tired of seeing my bullet cruising along its way towards a Georgian terrorist.
The biggest thing that the game has going against it is that it is plagued by technical problems. When starting up the game, it takes nearly five minutes to load you into the world. The world, which is a decent size, can be fast-traveled around near instantaneously thanks to the load and there is rarely a load screen when starting up a mission. The longer initial load time is rough, but if you are playing the game for a few hours at a time, it does pay off. If you are trying to just knock out a mission ever night after work, the sizable load time may cause you some grief. There were a lot of other technical problems such as the player’s camera clipping into rocks as Jon climbs down them and other cosmetic hiccups, but this is a common occurrence in open world games unfortunately.
There are a notable number of technical deficiencies with Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 that bog it down, but in all honesty, they aren’t major enough for me to feel like the game isn’t worth recommending to anyone who enjoys the genre. I enjoyed my time creeping through bushes planning out the perfect shot, and after the story begins to pick up, it is nearly effortless to become entertained by the story. Fans of fast and slow paced shooters alike will find something to enjoy in the game. For anyone who has not had the chance to try out a game focused on the methodical approach seen in Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, this game is a great place to try your hand at these games.