With its huge open world, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 was perhaps a bit ambitious for CI Games.
Launching with a myriad of bugs and technical issues, even those who persisted with the title until patches ironed out many of its flaws would struggle to say that it lived up to expectations. Perhaps that’s why CI Games has moved away from the open world format for its follow up, Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts.
Presenting players with five expansive levels, Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts feels somewhat influenced by Hitman, of all games. After selecting a level, a nifty video plays out in which your handler outlines your mission ahead. By the time the video is over the level has loaded, letting you get straight into the action. Each level has numerous contracts for you to complete, and not all of them are based around killing. In between taking out targets, you’ll be recovering valuable items such as phones or retrieving data. Your primary tool may be your sniper rifle, but you can’t rely on it alone to get the job done.
Imagine each of Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts‘ levels to be multiple of those found in a game like Hitman rolled into one. From a central area you’ll find multiple paths, and each one is likely to lead to a location that presents its own challenge. Take the Kolchak Harbor for example, just one of the two missions I was given access to at a recent preview event. One direction led me to a shipping yard in which one of my contracted targets was found. After climbing a nearby lighthouse, the insides of his head were soon decorating a container or two.
Another path took me to what seemed like a disused factory of some kind. With enemies bunched close together, I opted for a stealthy approach, sneaking in to begin the transfer of valuable data. My luck eventually ran out though, forcing me to go loud with a shotgun stolen from one of my enemies. Somehow I made it out alive. Then I decided to tackle the main target, or should I say targets. Making my way under a huge bridge, I eventually arrived at a dock. It was there that I had to take out a dastardly couple, retrieve a phone, and plant multiple C4 explosives on a ship. Needless to say, going loud wasn’t much of an option. Thinning out enemy numbers with some well-aimed sniper shots before stealthily moving in worked a treat though.
Playing through the two levels available to me, it quickly became apparent that Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts is going to be a fun game to play through more than once. While death is ultimately what you deal in, there are multiple ways to play your cards. Granted, at the game’s highest difficulty level, going loud really isn’t going to be a viable option, but you can at least give it a go. Each level also has numerous optional bounties and challenges for you to try your hand at, too. And there are collectables to find. With Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts you’re getting five decent-sized sandboxes, giving you an enjoyable amount of freedom yet keeping the action focused.
With the money earned via your contract completing endeavours, you can expand your arsenal and customise your loadout. More interestingly, however, you can purchase and upgrade abilities afforded to you by your futuristic suit and mask. Want to be able to withstand more damage when things go south? Buy an additional level of armour. Want to be able to see in the dark? Upgrade your mask to enable night vision. The more you play Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts, the more capable of dealing and withstanding death you become.
It’s the actual act of sniping that is likely to keep you going back to Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts though. The physics are better than ever, forcing you to take distance and wind into consideration when taking a shot. But to assist you, you have the dynamic sight, allowing you to make adjustments so that you can blow someone’s head off from a few hundred feet without even breaking a sweat. And blowing heads off in Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts really is a thing. While the Sniper Elite series has the X-ray cam to make you wince, Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts’ slow-mo shots are usually followed by a limb being removed from a body. Or a brain being released into the wild. It’s gruesome but it’s fun.
Is Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts a spin-off? Or is it a sequel? That’s a question I posed to the developers when given the opportunity. The answer I received was none-committal, and to be honest, it doesn’t matter anyway. This is the Sniper: Ghost Warrior game we’re getting right now. Moving into the future, who knows what’s next for the series. But I do predict good things for this new, refreshing direction that CI Games is taking. It plays to its strengths, and from what I’ve played, Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts seems like the best game to come out of the studio yet.
If CI Games decides to use what it has learned making this game to make Sniper: Ghost Warrior 4, that’s great. If Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts is a new beginning, I’m happy with that, too. In a world in which seemingly every franchise wants to go open world, it makes a change that a developer has took a step back and pondered if it helps their game at all. It did nothing for Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3, but without that misstep maybe Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts might not have been the game that it is. Lessons have been learned, and we’ll reap the benefit.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts launches on PS4, Xbox One and PC on 22nd November. Preorder a physical copy on Amazon.