Talk about timing! After finishing STAR WARS Jedi: Fallen Order, I was looking for something new to play. Fate led me to Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 which I enjoyed, although there could have been some improvements in terms of story. Jamie’s review of it sums up my feelings on it as well. Anyway, a couple of days after I finished it, there was an opportunity to check out something called Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts. It’s not like we have a plethora of sniping games to pick from (you have this and Sniper Elite franchise and that’s pretty much it), so I decided to give it a go.
First off, forget everything you saw in Sniper Ghost Warrior 3. This is a self-contained story with zero relations to the previous game. Maybe the cliffhanger at the end of Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 will be resolved in the next entry, but not here. This time, we get to play as a no-name sniper contractor called The Seeker taking on contracts, bounties and various challenges on 5 big maps. The story is pretty thin. You have to take down some warlords, evil scientists, and military personnel to further destabilize already destabilized region across the Syberia and after you do all that, the story moves forward. Yes, after you complete the game. It’s pretty apparent that the story takes a back seat here so let’s move on to the main course.
Besides the regular soldiers, armored soldiers, rival snipers (more on them later), turrets, drones, mines and APCs, the harsh Syberian climate is also your enemy. Going for a swim is not a good idea since chilling out (heh) in rivers will slowly drain your health and kill you – unless the enemies do it first. Speaking of enemies, as you explore the maps and do story contracts, every once in a while you might get a bounty. It’s a bonus task requiring you to assassinate some special soldier so extra dosh. However, you won’t be alone while doing so. You are not the only operative in the world of Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts so quite often you might be a target of rival snipers trying to get the same bounty as you, or at least murder you later if you happen to assassinate the bounty target before them. Also, sniping gameplay has received a makeover compared to Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 and it will take some time to get used to. The red dot of easy mode is gone and now you have to take into account the wind direction as well as the distance from your target. Completing contracts will reward you with money, intel tokens and challenge and sometimes all three of those currencies will be used to buy new skills, gadgets or weapons. Personally, I’m not a fan of that feature since it expects me to grind way more than I wanted to. You have three weapons at your disposal at all times; your trusty sniper, your assault rifle when things go south and your pistol for close up takedowns. Only our assault rifle can’t be silenced, so putting one on your sniper and pistol is the first thing you should do. Aside from silencers, the selection for the rest of the parts and gadgets certainly isn’t lacking. You have anti-vehicle mines, gas mines, throwing knives, drone, remote-controlled sniper and all sorts of grenades at your disposal. Regardless, being patient and playing it safe (and slow) is a key to success. Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts also has that usual gameplay flaw where if one enemy discovers you, the whole rest of the map will exactly know where you are. What can I tell you except that abusing checkpoint reloads is your friend.
There are some definite improvements in this game compared to the previous entries and devs did a great job when it comes to level design. One might assume that Syberia doesn’t much to the imagination but the maps are pretty diverse with lots of shortcuts and secrets to discover. There were some rare clipping issues and enemies getting stuck in walls but it’s nothing that good old checkpoint reload wasn’t able to fix. Snipers also don’t feel like copy & paste and each of them has a unique design. sometimes I would opt-in for my trusty SV-AMUR despite owning another with way better stats. After all, he was my only friend while waiting for my target for minutes (it did feel like hours, though) in a prone position.
After a while, you can earn an unlockable skill that enables you to intercept and listen to the enemy chatter and it’s something that should have been the default feature instead of being locked at the start. I’m saying that since it made me feel less alone while exploring the maps. I couldn’t rely on music in the game much. It is pretty minimalistic and it will only trigger when you’re being shot at and during mission briefings. for what it’s worth, it’s almost unnoticeable. Sometimes, listening in on the enemies might reveal you a valuable piece of info that you might not discover on your own so that’s a neat bonus.
As with the previous game, there is still some room for improvement but Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts is a step in the right direction. A big step, if anything. One thing to point out (although it should be obvious for the veterans of the series) is that the game is no walk in the park. Even on the easiest difficulty, it should take no more than 2-3 shots to bring you down to the game over screen. I’d say that with Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts the series finally went from a budget franchise into the triple A territory. They say that you can’t put a price on some things in life. But the feeling of successfully sniping someone over 500 meters after calculating wind direction correctly sure feels good. And for the affordable price of this game, it’s a no brainer. Just remember to stay out of the water when in Syberia and you’re good to go.
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