You play as standard US special forces guy looking for his brother in the midst of a Georgian civil war. The story was fun and had characters you could actually remember as distinct. The gunplay and ballistics feel very nice - the pistols especially. Which was handy as they're your main stealth CQC weapon. At times it felt like a first-person MGS, but mostly it was on a par with Metro 2033's stealth.
Like Far Cry it uses a big wide-open map with RPG trimmings. There are 3 in total - a generic forest/village one, a snowey mountain one, and one centered around a dam. The locations are heavily detailed with tons of prop objects. If like me you love over-budget Cold War military architecture you'll love the various enemy fortresses with their sheer granite foundations. Even caves were as visually impressive as the main Tomb Raider setpieces. It has trains trundling around and each map has a base where you can upgrade your weapons with drum mags, scopes, etc.
They're are tons of "areas of interest" on the map like Far Cry that usually resolve into a hostage situation, hostile wildlife, or treasure. Like Far Cry you drive around in first person, but for DLC owners you'll get a buggy that also doubles as a resting mount for your sniper rifle.
The sniping handles a hell of a lot better than the two dire previous entries of the series. Still not as good as Sniper Elite, but they do have a basic gore system where heads dynamically fracture like melons if you use a 50 cal or explosive round.
Where the game absolutely shines is when you wander off the main roads and through the forests and mountains. There it actually managed to approach the same feeling I had when playing STALKER or Oblivion. Nothing's more intense than scaling a mountain to reach the shrine and sniper point up top with its unique collector rifle, and then hearing the *whiiiirrrrrr* *bizzzzzzt* of a Bouncing Betty mine.
My favourite missions was actually a sidequest where you have to infiltrate an old Soviet missile complex and blow them up in mid-air.
Me liking the game was rather stacked in my favour as:
- I love Euro-jank
- I love the Eastern European biome
- I love realistic weapons
The DLC mission lasted only 30 minutes and didn't have any unique content. And, yes, they did once release a patch they had to roll back 2 days later because it broke everything.