Sniper Elite III is the latest third person stealth shooter from developers Rebellion. Taking place before the events of Sniper Elite V2, you play once again as Karl Fairburne in a unique African setting. How does this gory journey through Africa hold up against other shooters on the market, and is it worth purchasing, waiting for a price drop, or avoiding all together?
The Sniper Elite series has never been a huge franchise, although in the past they have been praised for its X-ray style kill camera and stealth mechanics. Now now a third title in the series has been released and this time, taking series protagonist American OSS officer Karl Fairburne to the North African conflict in World War II.
Your main weapon of choice will of course be the sniper rifle, which you’ll want to use for most of your killing. An incredibly satisfying feature that comes with the sniper rifle are the use of slow motion x-ray kill cams. Fire off a shot that’s going to kill an enemy and you’ll be treated to a cinematic of the bullet flying towards a nasty Nazi, with an x-ray of his internal organs, muscles and skeleton, before showing the path the bullet takes through his insides. It’s fantastically detailed in a visceral fashion and doesn’t seem to get old – making sure that you’ll want to make the most out of this devastating weapon. Even vehicles aren’t safe from Karl’s deadeye, with the ability to destroy an engine causing large explosions, perfect for making a quick escape after an assassination.
Other than his sniper rifle, Karl also has a number of other weapons in his arsenal. The silenced pistol is the next best thing to your main tool for those up close kills you just can’t quite get within stabbing range of, there are other pistols but they seem rather pointless as they don’t have silencers equipped. Machine guns are available for those who prefer to forgo stealth or get discovered by the A.I. and need a “Kill bad guys quick” plan. Accompanying these are a good selection of things like grenades and anti-vehicle mines. The most useful of these being the trip mine – which you can place anywhere on the ground to create a wire across two points, giving any enemy that snaps the line an explosive end. These tie in nicely with the stealth mechanics, as you can use them to stop enemy troops getting the drop on you from behind.
Sniper Elite also lets you customise your load-out between missions. There are only a small number of weapons and limited customization on the sniper rifles, so a more robust collection of weaponry would have been a nice addition, but its not too criminal since most players will want to stick to the shadows and the long range sniper rifle.
The story is incredibly bare bones. You are tasked with finding out about a secret weapon the Germans are developing, with one of Hitler’s closest allies taking control of the weapons programme. So you must go from area to area to find him, blow his brains out, and put a stop to the evil Nazi’s and their secret weapon development. It’s unoriginal and is basically just there to give you purpose to the current levels objectives.
Speaking of the levels, you’ll play through 8 in total and they can take anywhere up to 90 minutes to finish each one. They give the sense of small open world areas, with you free to choose your own path through them, setting traps and picking off enemies as you go. They’re rather well designed, with lots of good vantage points and escape routes for all the sniping you’ll be doing throughout them, a lot of improvement has gone into the level design over the rather linear feeling on Sniper Elite V2.
Upon beginning the game you get to pick a difficulty setting, pretty standard in most shooters nowadays. Whats nice is that you can create your own custom difficulty setting. Want hard to kill enemies but don’t want the wind effecting your gun shots over distances? Want to experience the full realism of sniping but without the hassle of bad ass enemies? All this can be changed to suit your needs, and it’s a great feature. As someone who normally plays on medium difficulty, it was nice to also be able to have the full realism for the sniper rifle in effect.
Sniper Elite III lets you slow down time when looking down the scope, so long as you have enough air in your lungs (which decreases as you use this slow motion effect, as well as doing other things like sprinting). This gives you a small red indicator, to show where the bullet will land after it has been effected by distance and wind. Trying to aim for a guys testicles? Use this to line up the shot (and yes, the x-ray testicle shot made me shudder).
One of my favourite things about the game, is using noise to mask your gun shot sounds. Enemies will be alerted by any noise you make, but using a generator or anti-air weapons firing to hide your weapons sound is a great feature. You have to be patient, with an indicator at the top of the screen showing when its safe for you to fire without fear of being detected. Of course, if you are heard the game will tell you to relocate, which then its just a matter of finding a new, safer spot before carrying on with the Nazi annihilation. Having things like an icon to show how visible you are within your current surroundings, and alert meters about enemy heads to show how suspicious they are all adds to a well done stealth system. It’s certainly not the best stealth game in existence, but it works well enough.
The game also has a level up system, with more items being unlocked as you climb the ranks. Anything from discovering any of the large amount of collectibles, to a silent, predetermined head shot kill will grant you XP.
At the time of writing this review, I did not spend much time with the multiplayer. I found it very difficult to actually get into a competitive multiplayer match, with 9 times out of 10 the game either disconnected, kicked me out of the game or returned me to the PS4’s menu. However the modes on offer do make the player find good vantage points to pick off opponents, rather than the run and gun tactics of many other multiplayer shooters on the market.
Co-operative multiplayer is also offered in Sniper Elite III, in the form of a joint campaign, and the “Overwatch” mode, which is basically as horde mode in which you must pick off as many German soldiers before finally being over run. It’s mediocre at best and didn’t make we want to go back and play it after my first few matches.
Sniper Elite III is an average shooter with little replay value and not enough content. It’s tedious campaign is only saved by the fantastic sniping and x-ray kill cams that save this from being just another, run of the mill shooter.
[tabgroup][tab title=”The Good“]
Huge amounts of impressive gore
Solid stealth mechanics
[/tab][tab title=”The Bad“]
Fairly short campaign
Grows a bit tedious in places