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Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 Preview

sniper ghost warrior 3 (4)

At the risk of being hauled in front of the court for pun crimes, I must say that Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is really expanding the scope of the series. Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 (AKA Operation Follow That Diaz) was not a good game. It’s been almost four years since I reviewed it, but my abiding memories are a lot of linear pathways, a few fixed position sniping galleries at the end of missions, and the worst ‘Follow an NPC man’ excesses of the Call of Duty series.

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 has opted to dispense with the linear tracks in favour of an open world (an open bit of Georgia, to be more precise), and you can set up your sniping kill zones pretty much wherever you damn well please. NPC commands are now disembodied voices in your ear; so if you fancy going off message and distracting yourself by sniping passing motorists instead of retrieving a vital drone, you can. Mechanically, well, it’s all gone a bit Far Cry.

I mean, look at this map and tell me a part of your brain didn’t go “huh, Ubisoft”.

A Bit More Realism Far Cry, anyway. We’re not talking Arma 3 levels of military sim detail here or anything, but you can’t invite too many bullets inside your fragile body before falling over. That may change as your character (Jonathan ‘Jon’ ‘Call me Jon’ ‘It’s me, Jon’ North) improves his skills and gets hold of sturdier armour, of course.

This beta version of the game offers a walled off slice of the main world, and two proper missions. It dishes out plenty of cash so you can play with most of the game’s gadgets, but you’re otherwise just a guy with a sniper rifle and a corporeal shell that’s vulnerable to high velocity bullets.

The two missions in question are Blockout (in which a war criminal is hiding out in a reassuringly concrete block of flats, protected by a moderate force) and Cut Off (during which you have to mess with a bunch of satellites inside a base to scramble enemy communications). Where these missions would actually fall in the full game isn’t really clear, as you’re pretty much air-dropped into a jeep on the way to a Safe House. In a brief moment of fourth wall breaking that’s both unexpected and rather funny, the main menu music is still playing over the radio. Jon switches it off in irritation.

The most brutal of Brutalist architecture.

As well as being as safe as the term suggests, your Safe House is also your shopping mall for brand new weapons and gizmos (smoke grenades, better scopes, silencer repair kits, handy spy drones and the like). It has a work bench too, for some rudimentary crafting of bullets and equipment from materials you find out in the world. This may prove more handy in the real game, when the beta isn’t showering you with more cash than a Saudi Prince finalising an arms deal.

You get a bed too, for magically healing your wounds with sleep, and for advancing time if you fancy going into a mission during the helpful cover of night.

The Safe House is also a great testing ground for accidentally lobbed smoke grenades.

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 seems to lend itself to a stealthier approach. I’m sure it’s somewhat possible to go ultra-direct – after all you do get an AK-47, frag grenades, and some C4 as part of your kit – but my success in Blockout came from a more considered set of actions.

Somewhat guided by the secondary mission of locating a downed drone with information on it, I skirted around to a block of flats opposite the ones housing the assassination target. A silenced pistol took care of the token set of guards on the way up to the rooftop (unfortunately, somebody found a body at one point), and the roof itself presented a lovely view of the courtyard and building across the way.

When close to certain surfaces, you can plant your sniper rifle in a more stable, supported position. Your inevitable ‘sniper sense’ key (which will highlight points of interest, mark enemies a little more clearly, and so on) can point out useful sniping spots, but you’re also free to just pick your own. That I did, and managed to bypass Mr War Criminal’s private pack of bodyguards with a crisp shot that … actually missed and hit him somewhere on the arm, alerting everybody. A second shot finished him off though, and the rooftop had a convenient zip-line upon which to bugger off back to my parked vehicle. Job done.

Paul, it seems, had a somewhat harder time with this mission, as the video below demonstrates. Again, that’s Paul in the video, not me. I’m eager to distance myself from the skills on show for no particular reason.

I mean if I was really being a jerk, I’d show off my own mission success screen for Blockout or something. Oh, wait, what’s this?

Not the cleanest operation, but it got things done. Here are the three areas you level up.

It’s only in beta at this stage, but since Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is due for release in April the bulk of the game must be fairly set in stone. That being the case, it marks a pretty dramatic improvement over the second game. There are some things I’d love to see addressed before release, however.

AI barks are far too over-zealous at the moment, repeating the same alerted phrases every few seconds; and the sound design doesn’t seem comprehensive enough to indicate distance, so foes can sound closer than they really are. It’s possible to clamber and mantle up various bits of scenery, but some (rock formations in particular) can’t be scaled even though they seem to be the right height and shape for it. A reverse problem occurs too. Sometimes when you’re high up it’s not exactly obvious what you can safely climb down upon (sometimes there’s a button prompt, sometimes there isn’t), which can result in some hilarious pratfalls.

The biggest issue, though also the one I suspect likeliest to be fixed, is PC performance. With a mix of medium and low settings on an i5-6600 / 16GB RAM / 4GB 380X machine, I was able to get 60fps (turning v-sync off was a must, it seemed keen to default to 30fps no matter what), but it was an unconvincing 60fps. Even though Steam’s little counter insisted I was in the 55-60 range the vast majority of the time, you wouldn’t have guessed it from the stuttering, jerky frame pacing.

Awkward moments in roadside etiquette, as Jon becomes that tourist who’s shit at parking.

It’s using CryEngine, but that’s not exactly the kiss of death for lower end hardware it once was. The Minimum system requirements listed on Steam are modest, and Recommended is pointing towards a 480/1060 equivalent. Not that raw power will achieve much if the frame pacing is off.

If they can sort that business out, CI Games may well have a surprise hit on their hands with Sniper Ghost Warrior 3. A surprise for me, in any case. The series seems to be a consistent seller despite the second game’s generally poor critical reception, so perhaps the large shift towards greater freedom of approach and a more Far Cry-ian model will upset the fan-base. Who knows. As far as I’m concerned, it’s all rather encouraging.


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  • rochyroch

    Looks as if it has e few issues, the enemy feedback is quite repetitive ‘I CAN’T SEE HIM !
    but still looks like it could be quite fun everyone loves being a sniper.

    • BiteTheBullet

      I like that it’s not o easy as in CoD or other games of this kind – you can’t just jump amond your enemies and kill them with no problem. Playing warrior style I couldn’t kill more than 3 guys at once. This is only ‘normal’ and it’s pretty hard.

      • Andy

        ‘Life is brutal’, so even a normal level if you get shot you can die quickly. Actually I prefer that way, because it Causes me think more and not to do the rampage everywhere. I prefere to fire at will 😉

        • turas88

          In my opinion it is a big plus ! It reminds me good, old Operation Flashpoint, where single shot could be deadly for player. In SGW3 beta I tried to play a warrior style for fun, and I have to say that difficulty level is fairly well matched. But I prefer a stealth style anyway ;P

          • Clamp

            We hand’nt opportunity to change difficulty, but i think, that on hard level or hardcore we will have one shot death. It will be more realistic than any FPS games ever.

      • Lierro

        I agree, it was really hard. I was using sniper rifle, but in the first time, i tooke wrong position, so they came and just killed me. But second time, they didn’t know, where I am 🙂 I did it like a ghost. 🙂

        • mistydrakkar

          I love sniping in this game, when you check out how do it propertly it ecomes really easy 🙂 Killing silently is always difficult and warrior style is almost impossible 🙂 To be honest tht’s exactly what I waas expecting 🙂

    • hooker

      I agree, it would be fun if they say also ‘where is this son of a b…’ or ‘come here, motherf***er, I have little kittens in my basement’ 😀

  • Fatty

    I’ve played both SGW 1 and 2 and I have to say that I am glad that we will see an open world in this part. Personally I think that the studio has to work on the optimization. Other than that I was very happy with the game

    • Maldy

      Oh yeah man! The open world will work much better for this game. Why do you think that they have to work on optimization?

      • BiteTheBullet

        A took a little tour and I like the SGW3’s world. It’s big and quite beautiful. There’s one thing I didn’t like – it’s very hard to drive this f***ing car ;////// I never drove this bad car, it’s unbelievable.

        • Andy

          Someone could say that this is realistic driving model, not arcade ;P I don’t know I didn’t play (unfortunately) but I can imagine how the car behave.

          • Paul Younger

            Well if my card worked like the cars here I would never go on the road 🙂

          • BiteTheBullet

            Wel, I drove different cars on few very hard roads and never had this problems with staying on the track.

        • Lierro

          It was hard? really simple. I liked it. I was driving long time through the Open World. It was Sight seeing like tourist. Great views. Can’t wait to do it, in the whole world, becouse beta allows to used just a piece of a map 🙂

      • Fatty

        Well the game just didn’t run as smooth as I’d like it on my PC. I know that my rig isn’t top of the line, but I just think SGW 3 should do a bit better

        • mistydrakkar

          Well you couldn’t play SGW3 on some shitty old PC – there are no new games you can 😉 But specification is pretty OK, you don’t have to throw away 1 month old PC to buy a new one 😛

  • DannyB

    I know that the part of the map that we’ve gotten was rather small but I’ve to tell you that it was big enough for me to feel open. I am glad that we’ll get a sniping game that has an open world

    • Maldy

      I think that what you’re saying is very true. I didn’t feel claustrophobic in the open beta even though it was a small part of the map. In my opinion the AI is very good in the game

      • DannyB

        Oh yeah the AI was very good and as @morethanzero666:disqus said. If you were playing warrior style it was almost impossible to stay alive

    • BiteTheBullet

      You know what CIG should fix? When you complete the mission and win the location there hould be some sign on your map. It’s counfusing whene there no such thing. It’s like you killed everybody, but who really cares?

      • DannyB

        I know what you mean but I am almost certain that they will add that feature into the final build of the game. I mean it wasn’t needed with the small part of the world that we got but it will be very useful on a bigger map

    • moreThanZero666

      I don’t know why many people said that AI of enemies is shitty. Why? When I played on demo, I wanted choose warrior way, and …. I had problem with enemies. AI is better in two previous parts.

      • mistydrakkar

        Shitty? Enemies are really hard to kill and they shoot very well – there are no Stormtrooper 😀 While playing warrior way vs more than 1 enemy I had really big problems.

  • moreThanZero666

    even all this issues which was in beta demo, I see a lot of positives. There is a huge step from 2nd part, a lot of improvements, and hope they have time to optimize this game as they can.

  • turas88

    Finally sniper/stealth game with open world, which, by the way, looks very nice, even for a beta version. Also I liked the idea of drone, which provided me a lot of fun, and I’m sure that it will be one of keypoints during the all SGW3. Well done CIG, waiting for full version !

  • Lierro

    My review:
    – I liked shooting system, it was real.
    – I liked SI inteligence, it was hard
    – I liked crafting, so many options.
    – l liked the main character, can’t wait to know him better.
    – I had some little issues with textures, but it was beta.

    8/10 🙂

  • Robert

    http://www.gamestar.de/videos/sniper-ghost-warrior-3-shooter-oder-softporno-story-video,92222.html I think they’re overreacting – it’s very hrd to call it ‘softporno’, but the scene is fine 🙂 SOMETHING FROM STORY LINE

    • Vall

      o. awesome story line – confirmed 🙂 Nice views in this fist cut scene 🙂 Love this. And sleeping with your ex is always a part of breaking up proces 🙂

    • hooker

      Well, it’s good we have something from the story, but calling it ‘softporno’ is abusing. This is just pretty hot girl wearing bra.

    • Whis

      I havent seen this before. i love it. Its my favourite video now. Softporn? Where is it? I want to watch some porn, but i can’t see it! 😀

  • hooker

    It was very good Open Beta, but I’m afraid a little that there will be even more issies in full version. You know – open world gives more opportunities for issues.

  • Whis

    I loved it! Open beta was great, i loved schooting system and the drone. Open world looks amazing. Great work CIG!