Review – Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts
Even if developers at CI Games haven’t said as much, Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts should probably be considered a reboot of the Ghost Warrior games – divesting itself of a lot of the baggage of past games and introducing a more streamlined version of the free-form open world design that was largely panned in Sniper Ghost Warrior 3.
As a sniper codenamed Seeker, players drop into the wilds of an independent Siberia with a map full of objectives aimed at taking out a spider’s web of bad guys so you can get a shot – no pun intended – at the villain behind it all. You have a gun, a map, and a voice in your ear called Handler, but how you want to approach the objectives is entirely up to you.
It’s not just a matter of ‘which direction do you want to snipe them from’ either, it’s full control over how you want to get the job done. Tasked with taking out a target at a chemical weapons facility, if you’d like to get a good overwatch position and then test your patience while you wait for the perfect shot, that’s certainly a workable approach. You can also infiltrate the facility, evading cameras and patrols to reach their lab space – but then what? I threw a couple of hand grenades through the window and ran for it, but there’s probably quieter ways to go about it.
It’s also a question of which objectives do you want to approach first. You can choose to avoid the facility and the gauntlet of cameras and guards for a while, going after other objectives to see if you find gear that might make it easier. And while each map has just five ‘main’ objectives to complete, there’s also a slew of bonus objectives available, including specialized ones like taking out a target and all his guards within 10 seconds of one another, and randomized special ‘bounty’ targets to eliminate who will be found while wandering the world. You’re probably not going to be able to complete every bonus objective on a single playthrough, so I wouldn’t stress about them too much. Just consider them a great reason to replay the mission down the road.
Fortunately, unlocking new gadgets to play with, like a drone (that can hack turrets or mark targets), EMP grenades, decoys, C4, or sniper turrets, makes it easier to complete both mission and bonus objectives by expanding your options on how to approach the target. Personally, I preferred to spend my money upgrading my sniper rifle or buying new ones, but different people will approach the game in different ways.
Fortunately, no matter which sniper rifle you have, the game’s shooting system feels great and has a bullet drop/wind mechanic that is easy to understand. Using a PSO-1 style reticle, gamers can figure out distance to enemy and adjust for drop, while a dynamic system shows expected trajectory accounting for wind. Combine the two properly and you can expect to see a lot of the cinematic bullet cam no matter what range you’re shooting at.
And you can get some rather extreme range in Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts, as the developers at CI Games used CryEngine to its fullest. The environments are gorgeous, especially the natural parts of it, though there’s nothing to complain about when you go into more built-up areas either. Exploring the harbor, for example, never gave me the “this was built with ctrl-c, ctrl-v duplication and just feels the same” feeling that many open world games have. That said, they might have pushed the engine a little hard for consoles as there were a few performance drops on the Xbox One X when playing on a 4K TV. It’s worth noting that I had little in the way of noticeable drops while playing on a 1080p monitor, however.
Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts hits the target more often than it misses. I’m a big fan of the way you can set up exactly what approach you want, for the most part, and can’t wait to see what they do with multiplayer – promised as post-launch DLC.