Be prepared. It's one of the core principles of Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, a game that takes its long distance assassination and prep work incredibly seriously. It's also the motto of the Boy Scouts, but they're more about helping old ladies across the road and repairing bike punctures, than propelling a .50 calibre round through the skull of an eastern European separatist. Well, I assume so - I was never in the Scouts.
The game's recent showing at Gamescom is a true testament to this principle. During the 20 minute demo, there wasn't a single shot fired, although later hands-on reveals exactly how it feels to pull the trigger. During the demo it's all about preparing for an ambush by Georgian separatists, which is due to take place during the wedding of a guerrilla leader. Your character is the sensibly-named Jonathan North (not voiced by Nolan North, surprisingly) who has gone undercover to find his brother (also a sniper, also called North, not voiced by Nolan North) in eastern Europe.
After a brief cut-scene showcasing all manner of guerrilla banter, you're instructed to prepare for the assault. First order of business is creating a load-out, and the options here are rather impressive. Not only can you acquire and modify all manner of high-end sniper rifles, you can even get as granular as crafting bullets and making your own traps. Our man grabs a sniper, a silenced pistol, and a bunch of anti-vehicular mines, before heading out into the local village to plan his defence.
It's all very tactical. After using a drone to scout the area, North (still not voiced by Nolan North, so stop asking) identifies the most likely places where the enemy will attempt to break into the town. He then hops in a car, because you can drive in this game to get around the large hub areas that make up each level, and heads over to the main road to lay down some mines. That done, North shows off another new skill - he parkour-climbs over a bridge to lay some explosives on the struts. If the Georgians roll tanks over that one, he can block the road by taking down the bridge.
Finally, North clambers over the rooftops in the town to lay down a couple of sniper nests, placing his .50 cals at strategic points. A rooftop over-looking the main road is a good site, as is the conveniently located 'deserted church spire'. Classic. With all the busy-work done... the demo ends. What a massive tease.
Luckily, there's a chance to go hands-on with the actual shooting on the show floor. Again, it's all about prep - this isn't a Call of Duty clone - and a large dose of stealth. While tracking down your target, you can climb anywhere within the level, seeking out better places to snipe from and taking out enemies quietly. Once you've taken a shot, you've revealed your position, so it's best to even the odds as much as possible before eliminating your target. You've got a silenced pistol and a penchant for brutal melee takedowns, so using the freedom of movement around the map to pick off entrenched rival snipers is essential. You can even track footprints to work out new routes to better spots, or to reveal traps laid to catch you unawares.
The final shot - the actual sniping - comes after plenty of build-up, and it's not just a case of lining up cross-hairs and squeezing the trigger. There's wind-speed and bullet-drop to take into account, and your target will rarely stand still and allow you to take perfect aim on him. Is it all worth the prep? Depends what you expect from the game. There's huge satisfaction to be had from engineering the perfect shot, but those seeking real thrills will need to develop plenty of patience between now and the game's 2016 release.