Creating an entire franchise based on sniping sets inherent limitations. Both Sniper Elite and Sniper Ghost Warrior suffer from these problems, with the latter also sometimes struggling to find its footing in the past. Sometimes, in an effort to think outside the box, both series have ventured to far outside what fans loved about the series in the first place. Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts is the result of developer CI Games’s efforts to return to form and provide more in depth, straightforward sniping experience. This game marks a turn, where the franchise is no longer about just looking through the lens of a sniper, but becoming the predator that wields the weapon every step of the way.
OnlySP was able to play a hands-on demo at E3 2019. After a brief, hands-off demonstration piloted by senior level designer Daniel Sławiński, whom OnlySP had the pleasure of interviewing afterwards, we were thrust into a lobby area to try out the experience first-hand.
Right off the bat, players will note the inspiration Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts takes from the Hitman series. While not entirely original, players should also note that this is the best course CI Games could have taken.
Again, the word focus comes to mind, as each contract tasks players with focusing on one thing: taking out the desired target. Want to rush in and take the target down in only a minute? Try it and success may or may not follow. Thinking of sneaking into the target’s base for a stealth kill? That option is available, too. Creativity is key in a game with one clear goal. Thankfully, this sandbox nature encourages gameplay that is more fun than any past title.
Sławiński said beforehand that this entry was leaving behind the open-world environments of Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 as a result of fan feedback. He used the word “distracted” more than a few times when describing the team’s vision for the third entry, thanks to unnecessary additions to gameplay such as vehicles. This was a mistake Sławiński does not want to make a second time and the Hitman-like approach is a beacon of hope for those that spoke out against the previous level design.
Though Hitman’s killer creativity does not seem to present here, the number of tools players have at their disposal makes for plenty of plotting before the mission kicks into gear. Different ammunition types, such as recon bullets, add to the planning element, as the useful types are scarce. Similarly, to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, guards have patterns and posts that can be marked with binoculars. Mark an enemy: know their location until death. Those that choose to camp out at a safe distance can set up mines of both the recon and explosive variety for protection from any unseen guards.
Based on both the hands-on and hands-off demo, guard interaction is fairly dynamic. Patrols may be on a set path but taking a guard out by a cliff led to his body falling down in front of a separate group of enemies on one occasion. No matter how quiet a takedown is in a minefield, even the slightest miscalculation ended with the guard’s body triggering a nearby explosive.
Borrowing from other titles again, Sniper Ghost Warrior Contacts allows for guard interrogation, too. On the other hand, if loud and proud is the desired method, shooting a grenade clipped to one guard’s belt promises quite a unique experience. Being a predator no longer means just picking targets and moving bodies for Sniper Ghost Warrior. Though the game’s physics seemed to sometimes lead to strange results regarding how bodies reacted to bullets, the ability to fight back when setting off alarms made an undesirably-loud playthrough less tedious than in some other titles.
Sniper Ghost Warrior Contract’s gunplay is where things are less defensible. Maybe it was just the gun the demo presented, but something about how weapons and movement felt was a little sluggish. Although fine for the more methodical approach, this paced movement felt like CI Games was catering to a stealthy experience more than a fast-and-loose one. However, seeing wind effects drastically change bullet curvature was a nice touch to a game that takes sandbox gameplay seriously. As someone who suffers from an inability to properly lead bullets through wind, Sniper Ghost Warrior’s accessibility option that helps with long-ranged aiming was a practical help. The option was there when I wanted it, and out of sight when I did not.
Special kill qualifiers can lead to different endgame rewards, different biomes have different effects on bullets, new methods lead to dense replayability, etc. The features CI Games has added to keep the dream of the ultimate sniping experience alive have no end. Unoriginality plagues the game at every mountainous corner,but most fans will likely not care at all. Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts is not pushing to redefine the industry, but, rather, redefine itself. Fans should eagerly keep this one in their sights and newcomers might even want to take it for a spin, too. Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts wants to be the best Sniper Ghost Warrior game .
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