Review: Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 — Great gameplay but poor performance

Usually when you read reviews, you’re greeted with an introduction about the title and what makes it shine. In the case of Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 though, it has to begin with a warning. In its current state, the game is almost unplayable on Xbox One due to its technical issues. There are serious problems with the frame rate and controls which make it impossible to carry out basic tasks. Not only is the visual presentation low-resolution in various areas, it appears to suffer from a fluctuating frame rate and frame pacing issues. Only nighttime gameplay offers some reprieve from these problems. This doesn’t even include the unending loading times, glitches or horrendous texture pop-in. While Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 features a wealth of content, it’s severely let down by a lack of optimization on Xbox One.

Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 features great content but exhibits serious performance issues

The game takes place in modern-day Georgia with a series of conflicts between various hostile factions. Certain unnamed players trigger a civil war and it’s up to American Marine Jonathan North to uncover the mystery behind it all. You assume the role of the trained soldier who’s not only in search of his abducted brother, but also has to stop dark yet familiar forces from starting another Cold War. While the voice acting may be a little rough at times, the plot is still interesting and plays out like a compelling thriller. It’s filled with lots of twists and turns—betrayal being at the heart of it all.

Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 feels clunky and slow on Xbox One. This causes problems when you’re scouting particular areas and using the drone. Despite adjusting sensitivity settings, it’s impossible to precisely maneuver the tool because the controller response is so unruly. The performance issues—frame rate and frame pacing combined—seem to make Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 run at around 25 FPS instead of a locked 30 FPS. This causes severe problems with input lag and results in using any other weapon aside from the sniper rifle an ordeal.

Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 risks turning people away from the franchise entirely

Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 is in a similar situation Homefront: The Revolution and Lichdom: Battlemage were when they came out. Lichdom: Battlemage ran at around 20 FPS on Xbox One and it took the developers months to fix it. Unfortunately, by that time the damage was done and it ruined the reputation of the makers and the game. Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 risks turning people away from the franchise entirely.

A few months ago, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 was involved in a rather strange controversy regarding its season pass. CI Games chose to offer the season pass to PC and PlayStation 4 gamers for free but withheld it from Xbox One owners. No clear reason was given and Head of Xbox Phil Spencer had to step in to rectify the situation. This left a sour taste in the mouths of many Xbox One gamers and they’ve been cautious about Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 ever since. The fact that the game is this troublesome on Xbox One won’t go over well with the same crowd.

CI Games are risking their long-term relationship with fans

Games like Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 tend to sell well in Western countries like the United States, Brazil and United Kingdom. Considering that console sales are very close in these territories, it will harm the game because it’s alienating a significant portion of customers. While the PC and PlayStation 4 versions may also suffer from these problems, Xbox One owners will consider this an added insult given the season pass controversy. Not only are the developers risking sales, they’re also risking their long-term relationship with a major fan base.

The last main issue plaguing Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 has to be its poor faces which look worse than what you find in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim—an ancient endeavor by today’s standards. While this isn’t an issue when you’re out and about, it makes the bullet camera jarring to witness. It looks as if you just shot a crudely-drawn sack of flour in the head. CI Games should’ve made adjustments to the engine to improve the detail and expressions of people’s faces.

Kill camera looks as if you just shot a crudely-drawn sack of flour

Comparisons will be drawn between Sniper Elite 4 and Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 no matter how different the two experiences may be. While Sniper Elite 4 may be technically superior, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 features more realistic shooting models. The sniper rifle may be the most accurate to a real-life weapon any title has come close to. You need to adjust your scope for each kill, and wind speed plays a more important role than what gamers encountered in Sniper Elite 4 at higher difficulty settings. It’s a shame that the technical problems outweigh this amazing achievement in sniper rifle mechanics.

Apart from wind speed and scope adjustment, factors like breath control, bullet choice, direction and stance impact gameplay to an extraordinary degree. The fact alone that gamers can choose to use explosive rounds or other tipped bullets is unheard of in such experiences. The depth Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 offers is unprecedented in the gaming industry, especially first-person shooters.

Depth offered by Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 is unprecedented in first-person shooters

The title also allows players to customize their weapons (assault rifles, explosives, machine guns, shotguns and sniper rifles). Before selecting each mission, you can head over to a safe house and adjust your scope, silencer and even weapon print. The game gives you the tools to make it a truly personal adventure. Gamers can craft and unlock a variety of ammunition and other upgrades like Kevlar vests. Making sure that you’re ready before you head out is key to success and it’s completely up to you on how you’re going to go about this. This level of freedom isn’t present in many games and puts others to shame.

Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3—as the name suggests—isn’t just about sniping. It’s a vast open world game with a handful of maps which require you to solve puzzles and use other skills. One of the most important abilities has to be Scout Mode. Scout Mode allows you to see special objects, climbable ledges, and even track the movement of enemies. This is important when dealing  with combatants because health doesn’t regenerate and their bullets do a considerable amount of damage.

Scout Mode allows you to see special items so use it frequently

The game also allows you to unleash your creativity when dealing with treacherous situations. For example, how do you get rid of numerous soldiers at a roadblock? Well, you can either snipe them from afar or strap a bomb to a car Just Cause-style and drive it into the barricade. While going the sniper route stays true to Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3, the later is infinitely more enjoyable.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 takes place in smaller open worlds which feature dynamic weather and a day-night cycle which impacts your decisions. For example, using a sniper rifle the dark is almost impossible so you have to improvise. Players may choose to sneak onto a base instead of trying to pick off enemies from hundreds of meters away. Tactics change depending on the time of day and conditions. There is a lot of strategy incorporated into the experience which is a welcome change from other shooters, especially games like Far Cry 4.

Aside from the main missions, there are many side objectives which involve finding gorgeous collectible sniper rifles, weapon crates, and rescuing civilian prisoners. While they may not be as meaningful, they do enhance the title and add to its replayability. Every gamer should explore the regions, traverse the minefields and acquire the unique collectible rifles because using them is an absolute blast.

Overall, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 is a great game with fantastic music wrapped in a subpar technical package. Had the consistently-choppy frame rate not been present, the game would’ve been one of the best-first person shooters available on Xbox One due to the sheer depth of the experience. You want to keep coming back for more because of features like Challenge Mode but the performance issues can’t be ignored. Games like ReCore witnessed frequent stutters but Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 runs poorly the entire time. It doesn’t matter whether or not it’ll take you dozens of hours to complete it because you won’t be able to tolerate the frame rate for that long. CI Games need to patch this title immediately or risk further alienating Xbox One owners.

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