Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 (Beta) Review – A Stealth Lover’s Paradise

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Sniper Ghost Warrior 3
CI Games

Tactical shooters and stealth action games have a long and storied past within the video gaming realm. I remember playing a vast multitude of the arcade-y types of pixilated Japanese shooting games, in local arcades back in the day, and lost many a quarter to them.

Although I did enjoy some of the more action oriented shooting-fests, I’d always wondered how more stealthy games have might played. I finally got the chance to try one with 1998’s Metal Gear Solid, which pretty much single-handedly put the entire stealth action video game genre, on the map. Numerous gaming companies followed suit and drafted their own stealth-based titles. In retrospect, during those years, it almost seems to me that stealth action games were about as popular as survival games are these days. In other words, everybody and their mothers had one coming out.

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I did play a whole host of stealth titles back then. Although some were more fun than others, the one series that impressed me the most were the Tom Clancy Splinter Cell games. Sure, the Metal Gear franchise had augmented super-soldiers and crazy, monstrous entities, but there was nothing like carefully guiding Splinter Cell’s main protagonist Sam Fisher throughout his various missions. He was a normal human, which made the choices you made with him much more precarious.

When it came to sniper games, I was never that impressed with any representations of how snipers were portrayed within the digital realm, for one reason or another. Either the characters weren’t interesting, or there were some sorts of gaming mechanics that didn’t seem quite accurate.

I’d seen 2013’s Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 on my gaming radar, but it never piqued my interest enough to try it out. That was mainly due to reports that it was a very linear experience that didn’t let you deviate too much, from the game’s hardline mission-paths. I also heard that its shooting mechanics were a little murky, and didn’t always work to well for a game that required precision shooting. After all, a sniper is all about one shot = one kill.

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The game’s developer, CI Games, must have not only heard these criticisms, but also apparently acted upon them. That’s because Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is a wholly different experience from the previous entries in the series.

First off, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is an open-world affair, so mission linearity is a thing of the past. Although there are only two missions available to play within the beta version, the game’s menus indicate that it’s going to be all about choosing what missions you want to play, and in the order you want to play them. The first mission involves attempting to take out a local rebel leader who is hiding out in a large apartment complex. The second one has you seeking to blow up a key communications hub sitting high atop a beautiful mountain precipice.

I really like playing through both missions, however the first one was probably the one that stood out the most to me. Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 really makes you feel as though you’re a cold and dangerous professional killer, stalking their prey without a shred of remorse. That was particularly evidenced during the initial mission, because you have to recon the rebel leader’s whereabouts carefully from the surrounding hilltops.

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That may sound easy, but similar to the Metal Gear series, you can see when enemies are getting close to detecting you (or already have), and they can be quite perceptive. I remember crouching on top of a nearby hilltop and surveilling the compound, only to have an enemy sniper suddenly pop up and spot me from atop an apartment building. He promptly began shooting at me, which of course alerted the other soldiers to my position. I did try to relocate, but by the time I had gotten into close-quarters range in order to take out the head honcho, his rebel underlings were already on high alert, and quickly located and dispatched me.

Instead of this making me angry (it was my blundering fault after all), this just made me realize just how much better Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 will be once we can all play it with a battle buddy. As of right now, the beta version doesn’t support co-op or multiplayer, but those are promised features upon the game’s retail release in early April. I can only imagine how fun and tactical it will be when, for instance, one player can surveil everything from a good vantage point, and the other one can go in for closer infiltrations while being overwatched by his partner. All of the gaming mechanics are in place for it to be one helluva co-op gamer’s paradise. I just hope that there are plenty of missions available to play through, or perhaps user-generated content in order to keep the game from getting tired.

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Depending on what skills you actually utilized during a mission, you’ll be allotted a pool of skill points to spend. For instance, if you went loud and used assault tactics, you can choose to focus on skills that suit that way of playing. If you were stealthier but still mainly used close quarters combat, or if you were strictly long-ranged, there are also specializations for those considerations. Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 lets you customize your character how you want to, which again, will be fantastic for co-op team play.

The game looks stunning. From the dreary locale (the game takes place in the war-torn country of Georgia), to the highly detailed character and weapon models, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 sure is a looker. It also comes with some brilliantly realized sound design as well, and I particularly liked not only the weapon reports, but also simple little things such as how your gear clinks while you’re moving.

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If this beta build of Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is any indication of things to come, then I’ll be counting the days until its full release. It’s a great combination of tight gameplay, excellent graphics, and lots of fun to be had simply sneaking around in the shadows.

SCORE: 83%

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is packed with some excellent visuals that suit its military theme. However, you have to have a fast gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

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