Very, very few games have a tutorial so awful that I’m tempted to just give up on it entirely, and Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is one of them. It’s the first game in the series to boast “AAA levels of production”, which unfortunately translates to a “C” in action.
SGW3 takes the series into open-world territory, because that’s just what you do these days with your franchise, isn’t it?
But before you can enter said open world, you have to survive some flashbacks and a tutorial set a few years’ prior. The quality of the character animation in the cut scenes makes the widely-derided Mass Effect: Andromeda look like the equal of a Michelangelo painting, but that’s nothing in comparison with the horrors that await you in the prologue/tutorial.
It’s extremely clunky, and instead of driving home a feeling of freedom, it does the opposite; you have to stand in just this spot just so, or look at this object in just the right manner, or shoot this object at exactly this point and no other to move things forward.
It makes you suddenly wish for the polish of a Call of Duty.
Get through the tutorial, though, and things get a lot better. The open world isn’t terribly exciting in and of itself, but it does allow you some freedom in how you approach the various missions that await you. You can try to be stealthy (ghost), go in guns blazing (warrior), or a deadly, long-distance marksman (sniper). These games have always really been about the sniping, and when you look through your scope, adjusting the elevation and figuring out the perfect spot to aim to account for wind speed and direction, you soon forget the messier bits that surround SGW3’s heart.
It’s obvious that the developers are passionate about creating as realistic and fun a simulation possible of what it is like to be an actual sniper. The guns are meticulously crafted, and have more character than the characters.
In a lot of ways SGW3 is like a fun B movie, one of those direct-to-DVD Steven Seagal projects. It’s not terribly well produced, and no critic would claim it’s high art, but it’s a lot of fun when it gets down to doing what it does best, whether that be hitting bad guys in the throat or hitting a perfect headshot from 1,000m away.
The problem is that this game seems to suffer from a sort of identity crisis, like a Seagal movie that has pretensions of being an Oscar contender.
If you can ignore all the unnecessary and poorly executed bloat surrounding the extremely competent core, then SGW3 will give you many hours of headshot-hitting fun.
Platforms: Windows, Xbox One, PS4