Sniper Elite 3 is a third person, tactical shooter created by Rebellion Developments, a studio with a strong foothold in the shooter genre, and published by 505 Games. Sniper Elite 3 is a prequel to Sniper Elite V2, and follows the story of Karl Fairburne. When I say story I mean a series of battles that Karl Fairburne was in. This game does not have any character development, and the story is just a sequence of explanatory cut scenes between the missions.
Karl Fairburne has the character depth of a Muppet, but this is not a bad thing, as it is clear that the developer was not trying to make a deep narrative for the player, but just make the player feel like the most deep voiced badass to ever walk the earth. Seriously Karl sounds like James Earl Jones after 40 years of pack a day smoking.
The game is set during World War II, specifically the African portion of the conflict and centres around the strategic disruption of enemy supply lines. Through the missions Karl gets his hand on some top secret Nazi plans for the construction of a weapon that could change the outcome of the war. The missions are well structured and the pre-mission monologues Karl gives, helps the player plan their assault and feel that they are really in the shoes of this stealth killing machine.
Each mission has multiple avenues to the primary objectives, and optional secondary objectives are found as you move your way through the area. I really enjoyed these missions as there is plenty of flexibility available to allow players to approach things how they wish. All the stealth mechanics are well developed, and help the player to stalk their enemy before doing a close quarters take down, or sabotage generators and machines to supply masking noise for sniper shots.
Karl Fairburne is the most deep voiced badass to ever walk the earth. Seriously Karl sounds like James Earl Jones after 40 years of pack a day smoking.
The sniper mechanics this franchise is famous for are all here, letting players tag targets so that they can monitor them before striking, hold their breath to steady shots and of course the slow motion bullet vision and x-ray bullet impact footage. The ballistics in Sniper Elite 3 are amazing, and make players way up wind speed and impact location before taking a shot. The bullet vision and x-ray impact footage are cool the first few times but I suggest players set the bullet camera option to quick or minimal in the game options, to reduce the amount of boredom it can generate.
Throughout missions the player faces off against a good variety of enemies, ranging from standard grunts and officers, to snipers and even armoured vehicles and tanks. Karl has access to a variety of explosives to help with enemy patrols or vehicles and with the addition of armour piercing rounds the player still has multiple approaches to utilise in the more difficult situations. The only let down in these missions are occasional collision detection issues and the way some of the missions sections play out.
In one mission, set in a tank construction facility, instead of stealthing, I sprinted past enemy troops to the objective, which started a cut scene causing all the alarms I had triggered to reset and the guards to forget that I was there. In other missions I would painstakingly kill off the guards one at a time being sure to not raise any alarms, complete the objective, then as I am leaving the same area have to kill my way through another set of guards that have been dispatched to the exact same locations. This method of increasing play time, is cheap and frustrates the player.
Enemy AI in Sniper Elite 3 is intuitive, and offers a good challenge to the player. Guards will follow their standard patrol paths as expected, but in the event of catching a glimpse of the player or hearing a noise will investigate accordingly. Karl has a few body hiding and distraction techniques that can be used to limit guard alerts but due to the enemies blasé attitude to finding dead comrades and their complete lack of peripheral vision these options are not worth using.
Gunplay in Sniper Elite 3 is the real strength of the game. All of the weapons on offer look and sound great, and each rifle and pistol has its own specific feel and use, depending on the situation. Players can customise their load out before each mission or multiplayer match, and can choose between medical supplies, explosives and even make alterations to their sniper rifle to increase a specific attribute.
Rebellion has done a great job of giving the player choice while balancing the inventory, and the stat difference of each weapon are easily quantifiable when used in battle. I found it hard to go past the incredible zoom offered by the Gewehr 43 rifle but there is some great fun to be had with the incredible stopping power of the Lee-Enfield Mark III sniper rifle.
Sniper Elite 3 has a good variety of multiplayer options and supports cooperative campaign game play, but only online. Multiplayer matches are good fun and there are enough game modes and maps to keep things interesting. The staple deathmatch and team deathmatch options are here but players are awarded with more points depending on the finesse they use when making their kill. Shots taken with empty lungs, or after tagging and enemy provide more points in a match and more experience towards a players rank.
Distance king and team distance king are also offered and change the way players approach the match. The distance king game modes don't allocated points per kill but instead tally up the distance over which a player makes their kill, with the winner being the player to have the highest distance tally for their kill shots.
The final multiplayer game mode is called, no cross, which offers a good tweak to standard team deathmatch game play. No cross places barricades in the centre of the map ensuring the two opposing teams cannot sneak up and close quarters kill each another, leaving players free to engage in sniping only combat.
Sniper Elite 3 is a decent looking game but is not designed to take full advantage of the next gen console power available. Environments are large and detailed with acceptable draw distances and beautiful lighting. Player models look good but are used repeatedly to try and limit graphical exertion. The bullet vision and x-ray footage look great, and the impact detection for bullets indicating what internal organ the player hit is a welcome inclusion for the sniping diehards. Sniper Elite 3 while overall looking good and running smoothly does have its fair share of graphical glitches, but most of these are more comical then frustrating. I lost my shit when I found a group of guards with the same graphical glitch which made them all look like they needed to use the bathroom.
With decent graphics, detailed gun play and all of the sniper mechanics this series is known for, Sniper Elite 3 is a decent iteration for this franchise. With a lack of character development players will not be enthralled by the single player campaign, but instead, will be more prompted to complete each mission due to the challenge it offers. Gun play and stealth in this game are great fun and it is refreshing to have a game with enemies that can actually hit their targets, pushing the player to use more skilful tactics over unplanned rampaging.
There are a good range of options for multiplayer with Sniper Elite 3, and with limited lag issues it will be my shooter of choice for online fun with friends for the near future.
I had a great time with Sniper Elite 3 and recommend it to anyone who enjoys stealth game play and prefers tactical shooters. Sniper Elite 3 is a solid game and has earned 7 out of 10 from me.