If ever you needed proof that too much ambition can be a bad thing, look no further than CI Games’ unnecessarily vast and painfully uneven, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3. This is a game blessed with a fantastic set of core mechanics and a great hook in the form of some exceptionally rewarding military sniping action. Sadly, it’s also one bogged down via an unnecessary open world, a largely pointless skill tree, tons of superfluous side missions and, well, a whole ton of rather unsavoury technical issues.
Rather than double down on what they are good at and build upon the solid core established by its predecessors, CI Games (rather unwisely), decided to take the series into the realm of the AAA. Of course, in 2017, ‘AAA’ means an open world and loads and loads of little dots on what is usually and unnecessarily large map. In that regard, Ghost Warrior 3 ticks all of the boxes. Sadly, they have ticked those boxes with a brick covered in lead-based paint. It has everything you would expect of an open world game, but nearly every aspect of gameplay is at least a little off with the whole experience undermined by some rather egregious technical issues.
It’s a shame too as you can see the underlying quality in the final product. This is a talented team that simply bit off more than they could chew. I appreciate a team wanting to spread their wings, but an important part of development (at any level), is knowing your limitations. I don’t think this is a matter of talent or skill, it’s a matter of money and resources, things the team were clearly lacking.
To make matter worse, the game simply doesn’t need any of these superfluous features. I appreciate that having an open world provides a greater sense of freedom with which to complete missions, but the fun is in the sniping, and rather than add a mountain of additional features, they would have been better off expanding the scope of the core mechanics but within the confines of a more streamlined and structured gameplay experience. Instead, we are left with a decidedly ho-hum open world with an array of half-baked mechanics and poorly implemented concepts.
Sure, you can travel around the open world at will, and yes, there are plenty of side missions and a skill tree that unlocks a mountain of additional abilities and skills ala Far Cry, but in practice, everything feels more than a little pointless. Most of the open world is disappointingly samey, vehicles are boring to drive and provide little more than basic transportation between point A and point B. Completion of side missions provide you with the ability to upgrade your skill tree, but most abilities make little difference in the grand scheme of things, and to be honest, nearly all of it can be upgraded by completing the standard missions alone.
These kinds of oversights might have been forgivable if the gameplay was fun, but outside of the consistently entertaining sniping missions, all other forms of combat fall below the standards of competing AAA open world shooters and the high standards that most gamers will have become accustomed to. No aspect of the gameplay or open world created is outright terrible, but the controls are often unresponsive and, well, above all else, it’s all a tad forgettable.
The real problem however comes in the form the games’ multitude of technical issues; a recent patch has reduced load times and improved the general performance, but moving between areas still takes ages, the AI isn’t up to much and whole world looks more than a little rough around the edges. Again, there is nothing insultingly bad here, and there is fun to be had if you can accept the mediocrity of it all, but it always comes back to that same question – why? Why bother trying to create a vast open world for a game that simply doesn’t need it?
With its entirely forgettable story (there is a reason that it hasn’t got a mention to this point), its rough edges, bland open world and array of technical issues, it would be easy to label CI Games’, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 as a bit of a disaster, and while there is no getting past its multitude of issues, there is still fun to be had thanks to its exemplary sniping gameplay and solid (albeit unremarkable) underlying gameplay mechanics. A return to a more streamlined approach would serve the series well in the future, but for now, fans of the franchise are stuck with an underdeveloped, decidedly rough but occasionally enjoyable open world shooter.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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