One of the indispensable competencies for any marksman is learning how to zero a rifle scope. Essentially, it’s a process of systematic steps to ensure that the point of aim matches the point of impact. In execution, it requires a rifleman to take a number of shots, making small mechanical adjustments until their aim is dead-centered. Fundamentally, it’s also the process Warsaw-based developer CI Games has employed with their Sniper: Ghost Warrior series. Each successive entry makes crucial corrections to its predecessor, bringing the game closer to the goal of becoming a spotless sniping simulation.
Our playtime with the studio’s latest effort, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 began in a forested mining town, where a geopolitical situation was starting to simmer. Although the level we skulked around in represented a midpoint in the main campaign, the developer did provide a bit of ambiguous context. Our objective was to hunt down an enemy sniper who held sensitive information about U.S. involvement in Georgia. It was our job to track down the shooter before tensions would escalate between Russia and the United States, potentially triggering another Cold War. While CI Games was mum of the number of missions in Ghost Warrior 3, they did say that the game’s open-ended style would accommodate multiple play-throughs. Naturally, we put those assertions to the test, attempting to revisit the lackluster AI and occasional awkward environmental navigation that had plagued the previous two games.
Echoing the Arkham series’ Detective Mode, activating the scout ability allow players to see the world through the eyes of a first-class marksman. Once the mode is engaged, nearly imperceptible elements become highlighted, permitted players to see the fresh footprints of a patrolling solider or a telltale indicator of a nearby mine. Approaching anti-personnel devices while scouting, allows players to disengage the mine. When asked, a member of the Ghost Warrior dev team told us that in the final build, ordnance could be re-appropriated and used against the enemy. Setting up booby traps around foot trails fated for pursuit made me feel positively giddy.
Satisfyingly, Scout Mode also divulged a number of additional details. Enemies were highlighted, as were as any elevated perches that would make ideal sniper nests. Unfortunately, in the alpha-build of Ghost Warrior 3 both of these indicators used the game glowing, translucent outline- leading me to assume there were actually two adversaries atop a hill. But had I used the game’s other tool- a reconnaissance drone, I would have been to make the distinction. With the remote controlled copter, I was able to buzz across the sky and survey the terrain ahead. When a road ended at an encampment, I lowered the drone’s altitude, as the hardware automatically spotted and tagged enemies. Crafty players can even use the copter to remotely hack into security cameras, permitting an adventurous lone wolf to sneak into a base and eliminate foes up with a knife. I wasn’t as daring.
Appreciative of the long-kill, I reconnoitered the area, looking for isolated shooters that I could bring down without creating too much of a spectacle. After spotting one isolated tango about 400 yards out, I was told to hold off, as a missed shot could awaken a hornet’s nest of activity. Defiantly, I continued to eye the enemy, adjusting my scope to compensate for range and elevation. Taking into account smaller details such as wind and humidity level, I pressed a button to simulate holding my breath, narrowed my aim, and pulled the trigger. About a quarter of a mile away, I watched a soldier transition from alert to lifeless, as his body collapsed to the ground.
But the enemy has become aware of the shot, sending out troops and a helicopter to hunt for my position. Testing CI’s claims of improvisational troop movement, I scurried into the deep brush, hiding while watching infantry soldiers investigate the firing vector. Largely, appeared was certain foes traveling to investigate while others kept vigilant watch. So far, so good.
Once a majority of the heat was off, I passed the controller to a colleague who became provoked by the developer’s assertions that even enemy choppers are vulnerable. She ended up firing three shots, with the third striking the pilot in the skull, sending the aircraft plummeting to the ground. While this might not have been rooted in realism (the copter just hovered about a sniper), it was immensely satisfying, as cheers erupted throughout the meeting room.
Naturally, taking down the vehicle came with consequences. In this case that was in the form of a regiment rushing in to stalk and slay the silent assassin. Death was evident, so she valiantly dropped as many encroaching enemies as possible, before succumbing to a round fired from an anonymous squad member. In all, it was an intrepid effort, even if we didn’t come close to completing the objective. Obviously, succeeding would involve improve surveillance, more thorough tactics, and a slower pace that what our hour appointment would allow. As such, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, even in an alpha state with a sub-thirty framerate, has a strong possibility of carrying out its assignment, edging out Sniper Elite III as the definite long-shooting game.
Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 is targeting a 2016 release, and it is currently scheduled for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.