Review – Sniper Ghost Warrior: Contracts
The Sniper Ghost Warrior series has always struggled to find its footing over the years, being a series that has always been unsure of what it wanted to be, with the last one being a Far Cry clone of sorts that didn’t quite hit the heights of that series. However, Contracts takes a new approach and hopefully going forward, is what Sniper Ghost Warrior strives to be.
While Ghost Warrior 3 was set in a huge open world, Contracts takes a step back and gives us multiple large, open, but still linear, areas that are generally brilliantly designed. It gives the game a much more focused, streamlined approach that is much more welcome than just another open world title. There are five locations to visit, each one having their own distinctive look and feel. Within each of these maps are five more contracts to complete, a set of objectives that you can complete in any order that can impact the rest in that area. All of this takes us to a total of 25 contracts with a rough completion time of 10 hours and plenty of potential replay value within the sandbox itself.
Being a sniper game you would hope for the sniping mechanics to be excellent, and thankfully in here, it really is. When setting up for a shot, you need to take into account bullet drop and wind. When you pull off a nice shot you will be treated with a bullet cam that will show your bullet flying through the air in slow motion before it reaches its target. If you are using a high powered sniper rifle this will often end with body parts being torn off. While satisfying, it comes nowhere close to the excellent x-ray cams of the Sniper Elite series.
Contracts let you complete the objective in your own way. Yes, you can go guns blazing if that’s what you prefer, but that’s the least interesting approach and the automatic rifles aren’t that fun to use. Setting yourself up on a cliff almost 500 meters from your goal is by far the coolest thing you can do, actually, although the game will eventually force you to move in to the targets location to complete the optional contracts.
It’s in smart level and mission design where Contracts truly excels. I generally tried to get as much done as I possibly could in a single run of a mission. One minute I’m set up on a cliff scouting the enemy base for potential entry points and taking down the harsh enemy snipers. The next I’m moving in with a silenced pistol trying not to get seen on the way to my objective with a remote control turret watching my back.
To help you on your missions, you have a vast arsenal of weapons and gadgets at your disposal, with multiple sniper rifles that serve slightly different purposes. Then you got the gadgets which range from your standard drones all the way up to the amazing remote sniper. Finally you can upgrade your character itself with armour and mask improvements to give you more support. Your mask is the key to intel gathering, using it to scan the area for potential climbing points and enemies nearby. The rate you earn gear and upgrades is fast enough, with massive amounts of money earned simply by completing the main objectives.
Whilst I generally enjoyed my time with the game there were a few design choices and oversights which were really aggravating. Reloading checkpoint, for example, would place the remote sniper back in my inventory even though the model is still where I placed it. The overuse of autosaving is annoying and I would much rather have a manual save system. Then if you want to change loadout you have to: extract, return to main menu, change your loadout and then reload the contract again, followed by the same cutscene you might have seen multiple times already. Contracts is filled with minor annoyances that can sometimes make the game feel like a chore.
I was surprised to see the CryEngine logo when I booted up the game, firstly because it’s not 2011 anymore, but especially since there isn’t anything spectacular about the visuals here. Although the general lighting and enviroments look nice enough, the fine details are just lacking. If you plan on playing the game on PC, it’s vital you turn off the motion blur, as it’s some of the worst I’ve ever seen.
The sound design is just fine. With the little voice acting there is, the most I can say about it is that it’s… ok. The Seeker and the Handler don’t really have any personality whatsoever whilst their targets do. Sniper rifles and general weapon sounds are a bit better. There’s honestly not much to talk about when it comes to this department, though. It’s functional, but it’s just there.
I would like to briefly talk about the story, but there isn’t a lot of it in here. Something about Siberia becoming its own nation, oil companies doing something and something else about genetic augmentation, yadda yadda. We play as a faceless character simply known as the Seeker who has little personality and actual involvement in the story. Each of the game’s five stages has a short two minute cutscene setting the stage for the level. That’s about it, the story is there for dressing and can safely be ignored.
The Sniper Ghost Warrior franchise finally finds its footing on its 4th entry with a budget title that is a huge step in the right direction. Despite the issues, Sniper Ghost Warrior: Contracts is a worthwhile game and one of the strongest in the sniping subgenre of third-person shooting.
Even though it runs on the CryEngine, there isn’t anything spectacular about the visuals.
Excellent sniper mechanics in five brilliantly designed sandboxes that prioritise player choice.
Decent sound design that doesn’t really stand out.
Fun Factor: 7.5
Contracts is finally a fun game in the Sniper Ghost Warrior series but a series of issues and annoyances stop it from being a great game.
Final Verdict: 7.5
Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts is available now on PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4.
Reviewed on PC.