Sniper Ghost Warrior: Contracts Gamescom 2019 Hands-On Preview – Deadly Silence
If you enjoy sneaking around with an armory strapped to your back while silently eliminating targets and completing objectives, then you really are spoiled for choice these days. There are a seemingly endless number of shooters that are more open than ever, have better shooting than ever, have more player agency than ever, and it's easy to think that Sniper Ghost Warrior: Contracts is another one of those games, just another one of what we've seen before, what we have already, all over again. And in some respects, that's a fair assessment, but certainly missing the bigger picture. Sniper Ghost Warrior is back, but in some ways, it's back to basics, too.
Moving away from the open-world scenario of previous titles, Sniper Ghost Warrior: Contracts takes place in smaller dedicated levels, but they're still more than large enough to make sniping across the map an incredibly tricky and skillful task. This has allowed the developers to make better paths which head towards enemies and funnel you through challenging sections, while also preventing you with a variety of options.
You'll have your primary target, in addition to multiple smaller contracts for you to complete at your leisure. As you progress through stages, the ways you can complete your primary target will slowly present themselves, as there are always multiple ways to complete any task. Though you might have to think and look a little harder for many of the contracts that you take on, depending on what the goal is.
As you might expect, missions will generally have you sneak into an enemy compound of some sort, and stealth your way through the area, avoiding or killing enemies as you go. Get spotted, and things will suddenly become far more difficult. The word "sniper" is, of course, the literal name of the game, and as such, you'll be using your trusty rifle to help you through much of what is to come.
The rifle has a fairly realistic bullet drop, and you have to account for wind intensity, which is conveniently spelled out for on your HUD, as you are given an estimate of where the bullet will drop to at certain distances. Bullets are projectiles, meaning that you'll have a moment of anticipation as you watch your bullet fly through your scope, and hit a target a second later. Particularly successful shots will trigger a slow-motion bullet cam, which will be familiar to fans of the Sniper Elite series, though without the x-ray brutality.
The game controls incredibly smoothly and responsively, as you would expect for a shooter on the CryEngine, but since it's a stealth game I expected the character to feel weightier, and more awkward to control. Instead, I found controlling the sniper to be an immediately gratifying experience and, in the inevitable moments where I got spotted, running for cover while shooting down legions of soldiers hounding me was immensely enjoyable. Although it's also not how the game is meant to be played.
A true master will complete each stage without being seen, likely with a low body count, leaving behind broken CCTV cameras instead of bloodied corpses. And then, finally, you'll put a bullet to the head of your target right at the end, silently, without anyone knowing what happened until it's too late.
Sniper Ghost Warrior: Contracts also looks great in addition to playing smoothly and offering impressive stages. The stages feel huge, though not overwhelming, and the snowy mountains and chilly compounds all look and feel as believable as you would expect. Everything here adds up to being one of the best Sniper Ghost Warrior games yet and should be added to the wishlists of stealth shooter fans everywhere.
Contracts will be out on November 22nd for PC (Steam), PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.