Some people really don’t like it when you compare one game to another, even if they’re remarkably similar and are released around the same time. And that goes double if the comparison isn’t entirely favorable. Such will inevitably be the case with Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC), a sneaky first-person shooter that has a lot in common with the stealthy, third-person gun game Sniper Elite 4 that came out just two months prior. But while Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 isn’t as good as Sniper Elite 4, it’s still a solid game in its own right for those who enjoy shooting virtual people from far, far away.
In Sniper Ghost Warrior 3,
you play as a modern day American Marine sniper sent to the country of Georgia to undermine and ultimately eliminate a separatist leader. But you’re also there to find your brother, a fellow soldier who was captured during a prequel mission that serves as this game’s training level. So you know what that means: This time, it’s personal.
As I said, there are a lot of ways in which Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is similar to Sniper Elite 4, though there are some fundamental differences. For instance, both games are set in large open worlds that have numerous side missions, random encounters, and areas of exploration. But the ones in Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 are much larger, and come with cars you can drive, which is why it, structurally speaking, feels more like Far Cry 4. And yet, the effect is essentially the same, since the open areas give you plenty of options when it comes to approaching your objectives…and just as many opportunities for your enemies to approach you.
Similarly, the action in Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is largely but not entirely Sniper Elite 4-esque. And not just because the former has a first-person perspective while the latter employs a third. Like Sniper Elite 4, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 has a variety of mission types, especially if you don’t ignore the side ones. But the ones in Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 feel a bit different, in part because the locations aren’t as varied as it is in Sniper Elite 4, and in part because the former has you killing commies in a dour, former Soviet bloc country, while the latter has you shooting Nazis picturesque Italian villages during World War II.
Both Sniper Ghost Warrior 3…
and Sniper Elite 4 also employ many of the same stealth action mechanics as other sneaky games, especially Horizon Zero Dawn and Rise Of The Tomb Raider. And in this regard, there is parity between the two Sniper games. Not only do both allow you to toss rocks to divert your enemy’s attention, but you can sneak up behind them and interrogate them or kill them all quiet-like. The difference being that if they happen to turn around at the wrong moment, you’ll probably end up dead in Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, while Sniper Elite 4 gives you something of a fighting chance.
It is this unforgiving nature that is the biggest difference between these games, as Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 is a decidedly tougher when you compare the two on the same difficulty setting. Your enemies are slightly smarter, while you’re notable weaker and prone to injury, even after you get some good body armor. As a result, using stealth, strategy, and your ability to kill people from a distance is far more necessary in Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 than it is in Sniper Elite 4.
Now, for some people, this may tip the scales in the favor of Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, since it makes it much more sniper-centric than Sniper Elite 4. But as someone who doesn’t want to have to deal with the realities of sniper fire — such as how the wind can alter the path of a bullet — and would much rather feel like the bad ass I ain’t than the dumbass I am, I find Sniper Elite 4‘s more action-oriented approach and forgiving nature to be more fun.
Especially since this game’s unforgiving nature is sometimes taken too far. For starters, your equipment wears out over time, a gameplay mechanic I’ve never enjoyed. You’re also limited to how much ammo and health aids you can carry, and don’t find much in the field. As a result of both of these frustrating mechanics, much of the time in your safe house is spent restocking your supplies and fixing your gear.
Your soldier also has to be told…
to reload his gun when it’s empty, and to get off of ladders when he reaches the bottom, instead of just doing these things automatically. You also have to loot a dead enemy’s weapon even if you’ve already rifled through their pockets.
Further adding frustration, the checkpoints are set rather far apart, which means that if you make a mistake before completing one of your objectives, you may have to start over from when you first infiltrated the area. Though it annoyingly doesn’t reset how much ammo you have on you. There’s some odd button inconsistencies, like how you loot bodies with one button but loot guns with another.
There are also a number of irritating technical issues, most notably how your enemies can sometimes see you, and shoot you, through walls and other solid objects. This also has painfully long load times, as well as some bugs that, during my playthrough, caused the game to crash at the worst possible moments. Also, on the rare occasions when you’re not armed, you walk around like you’re kind of drunk, which actually made me a little queasy, something I never get playing first-person shooters. Or VR games for that matter.
Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 also suffers from a problem so common that now just copy this paragraph from other game reviews and change the particulars: the type is too small. If you sit at a reasonable distance from your television — y’know, like your mama told you to — you’ll have trouble reading your mission objectives, all of the menus, and the subtitles. And yes, Sniper Elite 4 had this problem, too.
All of which is why Sniper Ghost Warrior 3…
didn’t really grab me at first. And never captured my attention like Sniper Elite 4 did. But after coming to grips with its unforgiving nature, after accepting that I would just have to be a lot more careful than I usually am when playing shooters, and after realizing that this would require a lot of trial and error, I found myself appreciating Sniper Ghost Warrior 3. Sure, it’s not as fun as Sniper Elite 4, but it more than holds its own by comparison.