Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts Review (PS4)

The newest entry in the Sniper videogame series looks like the lovechild of a very complicated relationship: the producers seem to have been influenced by the direction in which the Hitman series chose to evolve while trying to borrow the mask from Corvo, the protagonist of the Dishonored series while keeping the series on its path. The result manages to stay true to the tradition of the games developed by CI games: many good ideas bottlenecked by limited production value. Still, we have to admit that Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts is the most polished entry of the series yet.

The game changes the pace compared to Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 and sends your butt to Syberia not just to freeze it off, but also to execute several contracts. The jobs tend to vary based on their scale, but they all take place in five different areas which alternate snowy landscapes with dense forests. As a mercenary you will have to do your best to fulfill all tasks, thus earning resources that you can invest in upgrading your gear and skills. The producers learned from past mistakes and managed to pair a generous map with almost complete freedom to explore it and use it to your advantage. The result is far from perfect, but it is right up the alley of those who find it fun to explore a man’s head from 400 meters in strong wind.

Sadly, this freedom is somewhat deceptive, and so is the tutorial. The fact that you can leave the tutorial before trying the different ammo types is a sign that although the game includes many good ideas their implementation is hasty. For example, you will find yourself past the 1st half of the game until you actually get to use the armor-piercing ammo.

Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts

The best way to approach the game is to rely mainly on practice, ballistics, learning when to hold your breath and a tender approach to pushing the trigger. The gadgets can be fun and useful, but you will have to discover them for yourself because the game somehow forgets to emphasize their role. Just as the tutorial misses to mention that you need to use the most advanced zoom setting on your binoculars to mark the enemies, the interface forgets to properly inform you about the available upgrades.

In Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts you can upgrade almost everything starting with your stats, continuing with the looks and performance of your equipment and finishing with a rich selection of gadgets. These are more of a pleasant distraction rather than an absolute necessity, based on your skill level, you being able to complete most of the challenges with the basic equipment you are provided for each mission.

On the other hand, we mentioned that the producers have learned from the feedback of the community, the most obvious change being the setting of the game. Instead of a war theatre, we now have a different, contracts based approach. The feeling is that Agent 47 took a prolonged vacation which he chose to spend in Siberia working on his marksmanship skills. The story offers a futuristic setting in which the huge frozen wasteland managed to broke off from Russia. The true patriots launch a kind of covert war against the corrupt criminal enterprise which ended up ruling the country.

Enter the scene our mysterious sniper, which has no name and has to hide his identity behind a mask that takes us back to the adventures of Corvo Attano. The mask is a good way to mask and easily explain some design decisions like the incorporated binoculars or the advanced way to explore and mark the surroundings. There are some twists and turns in the story, but the main motivation to keep pushing on remains the spectacular long-distance kills.

The story unfolds gradually after you complete the aforementioned tutorial mission. If you find yourself discouraged by the first area which you encounter, rest assured it is not representative of the entire game. It is not appropriate for long-distance sniping and feels put together in a rush. The terrain will improve in your advantage in the following regions, the AI of the opponents will not change though.

On normal difficulty they have a limited view distance, but once they are alarmed they suddenly become master marksmen noticing and hitting you from afar. Unless you use the most powerful rifles, the sound itself will not be a problem, but if your opponents notice a dead body or witness one of their comrades being shot you will be in trouble. Also, it is strange that if you wait long enough, although you decimated an entire platoon, the last man standing will resume its duties as nothing happened.

Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts

The missions themselves vary from freeing freedom fighters to shooting VIPs to covering up evidence or blowing up facilities. You are free to tackle the objectives in any order you wish, while also searching for collectibles. If you wish to go the extra mile and be awarded accordingly you can choose to respect the extra conditions tied to a specific objective such as using a specific gun, making the kill without activating the alarms, without killing the guardians or by using explosive devices. These extra tasks do a very good job making you get used to the cat and mouse gameplay on which the game is based.

The difference between the three difficulty settings affect only your opponents, but not the ballistics of the game. Fortunately, unlike the previous entries in the series, although the system is poorly explained it works as it should. You aim by looking down your crosshair, where you can see a curve that takes into account the modification of the bullet’s trajectory caused by the wind. So if you mark your enemies using the binoculars you can make every shot count by aiming to the intersection of the curve with the marker of the distance. Things are not so simple though since you also have to hold your breath and take into account the way of your weapon. As already said we can improve not just our weapons, but also our abilities, and as a result, aiming will become easier.

By using the correct equipment and carefully planning your actions, the outcome can be very satisfactory: the way the missions are implemented you will start by talking down choppers, continuing by taking down simultaneously multiple enemies and then finishing in style by blowing up tanks. If you like sniping and a bit slower gameplay you will really enjoy the contracts that await you. Even though you can also play Rambo style by equipping an assault rifle, this endeavor is a suicidal one, because you are heavily outnumbered. Things get really hard on the higher difficulty levels, the opponents detecting you very quickly and having a deadly aim.

Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts

Although it is a very fun game, Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts is far from being perfect. For example, the implementation of the latest CryEngine is more miss than hit. Animations can often be stuck or desynchronized, the physics do not always work as intended, some textures take forever to load, while other graphic elements tend to disappear and reappear again.

Also in a game that requires utmost precision the errors in collision detection should have been fixed before release. Some enemies tend to see you from a mile away and hitting you with an AK-47, which you can hardly call accurate in burst mode, while others fail to notice you even if you are a few paces in front of them. Along with other symptoms that affect the gameplay and the interface itself, we are led to believe that Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts would have needed more time for a more thorough QA process.


The Good

  • Long-distance kills are really spectacular
  • The freedom to explore and tackle the game

The Bad

  • Lack of consistency in the performance of the AI
  • Technical issues affecting gameplay
  • Graphics issues
  • Lack of checkpoints

Conclusion

Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts is fun but feels less polished than Sniper Elite 4. The missions can be fun, but somehow they are less interesting overall than the storyline of its biggest competitor. Thanks to its ideas and setting the game proves to be fun, while the level design manages to make it immersive. Although the ideas are held back by several technical difficulties, the combination of stealth and sniping makes from Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts the first solid entry of the series.

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