Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts Seems Like a Solid Return to Form for CI Games
CI Games' Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts definitely seems to be a step up from the disappointing and critically panned Sniper Ghost Warrior 3.
CI Games and its Sniper Ghost Warrior series have a lot to prove with Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts. Despite some moderate success in the previous console generation, the Sniper Ghost Warrior series stumbled hard out of the gate this gen. Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 was a bit too massive in scope for the Polish developer and publisher and as a result, it was marred with problems and not received well. While it sold decently, CI Games made the decision to significantly downsize early last year, and Lords of the Fallen 2 is currently floundering in development hell. With its smaller, more focused scope and leaner development team, Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts needs to be the game that puts CI Games back on track.
Via a new preview build, I was able to try out two of the levels Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts has to offer as well as a tutorial. It seems to be a step up on both the technical and contact side of things. The game looked good and ran nicely the whole time I was playing it, and the more compact but still open-ended levels lend themselves nicely to a sniper game. Though I understand why fans may be wary of the next entry in this franchise, my interest in Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts has skyrocketed after trying this preview build.
I started my demo in a fairly simple tutorial that taught me the basics of tagging and sniping enemies. The main character, now known as “the Seeker,” has a special mask, so binoculars and a detective-mode like level vision are built into the player’s toolset. Your sniper feels more polished than ever as well. Every shot in Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts takes height, wind, distance, and bullet drop into account. Fortunately, the new “dynamic reticle system” allows players to aim smoothly and ensures that every shot feels satisfying.
The cinematic camera and dismemberment also add to that satisfaction. Though the kill can be disorienting sometimes and lacks the x-ray vision of Sniper Elite, its biggest competitor, the kill cam is still a nice reward for pulling off an impressive long-range shot. The aforementioned dismemberment is also accentuated by that camera. These two systems are held up by the fact that Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts looks better and seems to run better than CI Games’ previous outing, which should help the game stand toe-to-toe with its shooter peers.
Players should get a feel for everything I just discussed, sans dismemberment, during the tutorial. After that, players are able to choose from a variety of contracts with unique targets and objectives. The game thrusts the Seeker into a newly formed Siberian Republic, which recently gained its independence from Germany. That being said, an insurgency is on the rise within its borders while those in charge seem to be making questionable and dangerous decisions. Though this fictional country and the history behind it seem interesting, my demo did not use its setting as anything more than a means to an end for the interesting objectives, and I’m not expecting the full game to go much deeper into things.
Though the story may be underwhelming, the levels aren’t. I was able to try out two levels in this build: Glacier and Kolchack Harbor. While both are coated in snow as one would expect from a Siberian territory, they still stood out from each other in color pallet and location. Each level will mainly task players with taking out a predesignated target and exfiltrating, though that is usually less than 10% of what a level has to offer. There are a plethora of side objectives, such as gathering data or taking out secondary targets, as well as gameplay-focused ones like a bonus for not dying.
The levels of Sniper Warrior Ghost Contracts are open-ended in design as well, so there’s a lot of player choice in how to get through them. The developers are also saying that this mentality applies to stealth/action-heavy dynamics, though the normal shooting isn’t nearly as polished or satisfying as sniping and enemies will mow The Seeker down fairly quickly. The first level tasked me with taking out Antanasia Alikhanova, though I was also encouraged to retrieve data and take out another scientist that was assisting her in genetically modifying children.
I slowly and methodically completed objectives and made my way from area to area before finally heading for Antanasia. That being said, a wrench was thrown in my plans when I found her as she also had an identical body double with a kill switch on her. I had not found the data to determine which one was the real Antanasia either; fortunately, my sniping skills allowed me to take them both out fast and I quickly exfiltrated.
While I felt like I had experienced a lot of the level in my initial playthrough, it turned out I had only scratched the surface of what it had to offer. While none of Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts’ areas will be of the same scale as Sniper Ghost Warrior 3’s open world, this game’s levels end up feeling a lot more interesting and replayable with a lessened size. The next level brought me to the previously shown off Kolchack Harbor, which proved that this game’s formula was adaptable, even in a different locale.
It is clear that Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts is a step up from its precursors, even if it is more limited in scope. That more limited ambition has seemingly allowed CI Games to hone in on the fun of sniping and focused on crafting levels that are designed intricately. It may not be competing with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, but the Sniper Ghost Warrior series now feels like it has a fighting chance against the Sniper Elite games.