Developer CI Games promised the ultimate sniper gameplay with Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts, and based on the game's hands-off demo showcased at E3 2019, it looks like the latest Sniper title lives up to expectations. Tasked with taking out a target in a heavily-guarded facility up in the mountains of the Siberian wilderness, Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts proves that there's no one way to approach a contract - and the sheer amount of possibilities for completing the objective is what sets this title apart from other sniper-based games and modes.
Our demo got off to a relatively slow start, but once the developer playing reached the compound, he immediately set up shop on a ledge that appeared to be the perfect vantage point for taking out the enemy guards one by one. Utilizing an optional but certainly helpful red dot marker, he was able to take out a guard in a such a way that forced the guard to fall back into the grass next to him, thus keeping him hidden from the other enemies. This is only the tip of the iceberg with regards to how players can complete contracts tactically. Stealth is key, but it may not always be the best option in the end, as run-and-gun gameplay is available, though not necessarily encouraged.
Even though all of the core elements of the series are there, with some upgrades sparsed throughout, Sniper: Ghost Warrior fans may be hesitant to pick up this title because it deviates from the open world aspect that heavily defined Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3. But with so many abilities, upgrades, and ways to approach contracts, the open world component isn't missed entirely. However, not having it in the game may leave players wanting more, especially in moments that begin to feel claustrophobic, such as when trying to avoid triggering an alarm.
Variety is fundamental for this game. It's mediocre enough to warrant attention but not spectacular enough to be forgiven for its drawbacks. Aside from inching closer to perfecting the core sniping gameplay, the only part of Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts that makes it stand out from the crowd is its replayability that stems from the number of ways players can take on a particular objective. Furthermore, close-quarters gameplay looks clunky and absolutely not different enough from previous installments to make it seem like a 2019 title. Interestingly, one thing that immediately stood out from the demo - the Bounty and Rival - was brushed aside in order to focus on the mission at hand. Exploring that may have been more illuminating to what the developers are going for in this new title.
As previously mentioned, CI Games defines Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts as the ultimate Sniper game, and while the actual sniping gameplay is stellar, to an extent, especially since players have to account for various elements (distance, wind, bullet-type, sound, etc.) before taking their shot, everything else comes off as arcadey - not in a good way - and outdated. It's a fine title so far, at least based on our hands-off demo, and it's one that may satisfy fans of the Sniper: Ghost Warrior series. However, there's not enough here to convince newcomers to join the fold.