Game Info:

Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts
Developed By: CI Games
Published By: CI Games
Release Date: November 22, 2019
Available On: Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
ESRB Rating: Mature for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Mode: Single Player (Multiplayer planned)
MSRP: $29.99
(Humble Store Link)

Thank you CI Games for sending us this game to review via Steam Curator!

It's been a while since a First-Person Shooter has really grabbed my attention. It's not that I don't like them, but I tend to prefer different genres more, so I don't give this one perhaps as much time as it deserves. When I saw this on the Curator list, I jumped at the chance to play something different, as even an RPG lover like me needs a change every once in a while.

Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts puts you into the role of Seeker, a gifted mercenary assassin who has been given several contracts to accomplish the goals of an unnamed financier. They have you placed in the newly formed nation of Siberia, which seceded from Russia a few years prior. Your job is to take out certain targets, along with gathering intelligence, as well as various optional bounties, challenges, or other required or optional tasks in order to get the best payout possible.

There are five main levels, along with a tutorial level. Each area is completely different than the others, though some have snow in common, while others have greenery, or rocky terrain. Each level is a self-enclosed little world, where you can explore it any way you want in order to complete the objectives. There is no set order to any of the requirements; you can do anything you want, as long as the goals are met. I found this level of freedom quite enjoyable, as I would often find out that one path was far too heavily fortified for my tastes, so I would search for another perch to snipe people from.

Sniping is the primary means of defeating your enemies, and is quite exhilarating. Each time you hit an enemy in a one-hit-kill zone, there is a fairly good chance that the camera will switch to an action cam, where it will follow the bullet in dramatic fashion as it travels from your rifle straight through the enemy (or if perfectly lined up, enemies - that's awfully rare, but really satisfying!) and blows their brains/heart/guts out.  It's quite gory and bloody, but the bass drop used, along with the other sounds and special effects makes it never really get old.  I must have sniped hundreds of times when playing through the game, but even in the last level, I still enjoyed nearly every dramatic headshot in full glory.  Just something about it is satisfying.  I will say, though, that it resets your view after each drama shot, so if you need to snipe more than one enemy in quick succession, that cool effect may mess up your ability to do that, sometimes setting off enemy alarms.

Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts

Strong Points: Very good graphics; a great sense of tension, as your death is just a few shots away; sandboxed, quasi open world levels are varied and well made; variety of supported gameplay styles makes different approaches (sniping, stealth) interesting and rewarding; sound effects and music are excellent and set the mood well, and gunshots sound great; levels are very well designed and often offer multiple ways to accomplish the same goals; AI enemies are somewhat unpredictable; taking out entire squads of soldiers makes you feel like a super assassin
Weak Points: Only five levels; some weapons are clearly better than others; some of the quests I didn't get credit for what I thought I accomplished
Moral Warnings: Extremely violent, where players assassinate entire platoons of soldiers to complete missions (non-lethal methods are possible, except for priority targets, but extremely difficult); successful sniper headshots (and sometimes body shots) show a dramatic, slow-motion effect that follows the bullet into and through the enemy's body, where you can see their head get blown apart, with blood and guts everywhere; very strong language, utilizing every curse word including '*ss', 'h*ll', 'b*tch', 'b*st*rd', 'd*ck', 'sh*t', and 'f*ck'; while very few women are featured at all in the game, one video mentioned human trafficking, and a woman in a thong shaking her behind is shown; soldiers' banter sometimes mentions sex, like 'screwing her [another's girlfriend]'

One of the most common actions that you will do during each level is to whip out those binoculars and tag each and every enemy you can. Once tagged, the computer built into your special mask (I like to think of it as a Crysis-lite suit) will remember that enemy, no matter how far away you get. So it always pays to scope them out as much and as soon as possible. Some levels do have jammers, so tags don't last, but that is the exception, and the range of effect is limited.

Once you tag them, then, unless you decide to use a stealthy approach (which is totally viable), you would then begin to pick them off with your sniper rifle, one at a time. It's always best to get observers and fellow snipers first, as they can spot you from quite a distance, and either alert other units, or on occasion, call in mortar strikes. If you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, you won't survive a mortar strike.

Generally, it's a combination of hiding, either in brush, from crouching or prone positions, or some other terrain to try to keep enemies from noticing you. It's not until the herd has been significantly thinned out through strategic sniping should you then allow guards to be alerted. Running in there and shooting is possible, but strongly discouraged - depending on the bullet that hits you, you can rarely survive more than two or three hits before you die. The game's only save system is autosaves, as the developers wanted to discourage opportunistic save scumming as much as possible. It can still be done, but you're limited in how much or where.

While there are only five levels at this time, some of the challenges pretty much require replays. For example, at least one level has a challenge that requires you to kill only a specific target; that challenge is clearly incompatible with others that require multiple targets killed in a certain order. The hardest things in the game to get are these challenges, but doing so allows you to unlock the most powerful upgrades.

You can upgrade several things. The most basic is your weapons. I found, that for my playstyle, silent weapons, especially pistols, were really valuable. Once I found that pistol, it stuck with me the entire game. You can also buy upgrades in the form of gadgets, like drones, remote control turrets, grenades, and other powerful items. These all require money, and contract or sometimes challenge tokens. Other forms of currency are intel or challenge tokens.

I never found a use for intel tokens; you collect them, but I never found a way to spend them. Challenge tokens are hard to get, as I mentioned before, but they also unlock the most powerful abilities and gadgets. You can get pretty far with just money, but the top two tiers of skills require challenge tokens. If you want to be the most powerful sniper possible, try to complete some challenges. With that said, if you just want to beat the game, you don't require them to do that. It does add to replay value, though.

There is currently no multiplayer, but that, along with additional levels, are supposed to be coming at some point in the future. I do not believe a release date has been announced, or if they will be free or paid DLC. Even with only five levels, it took me nearly thirty hours to complete all of the contracts on all of the levels. It was a bit frustrating that a few of the challenges I thought I accomplished, but didn't get credit for. Despite that, I still enjoyed playing it anyway. I would say the value for the money is there, depending on your approach and play style.

Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 90%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 10/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 59%
Violence - 1/10
Language - 3/10
Sexual Content - 8/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 7.5/10

This game is definitely not for children. It has to be said that there are quite a few moral issues to consider. For one, as previously mentioned, it is very bloody and gory. You are a hired assassin; you kill guys. A lot of them. If you choose to play stealthily, you can choose to sneak up to guys and kill them with a knife. Blood gushes everywhere when they die this way. This also happens to be a great way to not get noticed by other guards. It is possible to go full stealth and avoid detection, but that is quite difficult to do well. I would recommend gaining quite a few challenge tokens and gear unlocks before attempting that.

When you kill enemies, their blood is stained on the ground, and the bodies only disappear when you reload from a checkpoint. You can also pick up bodies and move them around; I suppose you might be able to use them as a shield, but I have not tried that. You can loot their weapons and ammunition. Foul language is used quite often, especially if you are close enough to hear them talk. If you snipe them from 500 yards away you might not be able to hear much, but if you are closer, the enemy AI often has a lot to say. Sometimes, this can include curse words like '*ss', 'h*ll', 'b*tch', 'b*st*rd', 'd*ck', 'sh*t', and 'f*ck'; other times you might overhear their banter, saying sexual things like how he's going to be 'screwing her [another's girlfriend]'.

Some of the people you are tasked with eliminating are truly evil, and are involved in human trafficking, eugenics experiments, and more. At least one video cut scene showed a woman in a thong waving her behind around. On the other hand, some Bible verses are mentioned, in particular on a flier promoting an upcoming public funeral (that you caused, as it were).

Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. I know that I haven't followed the state of the art when it comes to first-person shooters, so it may be possible that I simply missed a better example in this genre, and it may be nothing special to genre veterans. But I really enjoyed my time with the game, and if you are looking for a first-person shooter that's a little off of the beaten path, then I highly recommend you check out Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts. As long as the many appropriateness concerns don't stop you, of course.

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Jason Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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