The latest game by Rebellion Oxford, Sniper Elite 3, puts you in the shoes of a World War 2 officer named Karl Fairburne, who is stationed in North Africa (or “Afrika”) and is the only man capable of stopping a secret Nazi weapon.
If this sounds like a tired and rehashed plot point, you’d be completely correct. By almost all accounts, Sniper Elite 3 is a pure budget title that has been polished enough to make you almost think that it could offer more than it ever will. Not only does the the game’s story sound like it was ripped off from a straight-to-DVD movie, but it also disappoints in delivering on its paper thin premise.
Given the absolute simplistic nature of its campaign, it’s difficult to mention the problems with it and not spoil the whole game. So, instead of pointing out the fundamental issues, I will simply state that this is not a game you should care about in regards to story or depth, in any way, shape or form. Sniper Elite 3 is simply about riding a single mechanic from beginning to end, and the amount of mileage that it will give, will depend on your love for lining up that perfect shot.
Remember, controlled breaths.
Like most games that embellish on the concept of a sniper, Fairburne is able to dispatch a whole camp of soldiers without giving away his position, as long as he is patient and plans out his attack well enough. By utilizing generators or artillery guns, you are able to mask the sound of your rifle shot, which can be used to sweep whole areas clean. On top of the sensation you can get from making that impossible shot through the banisters, through an open window and into a soldiers head, you are also greeted with the game’s highlight feature, the x-ray impact kill-cam.
As you pull the trigger to fire off a round, you can follow the bullet travel through the air until it borrows a hole into your target’s body. This is by far the best aspect of Sniper Elite 3; as it not only allows you to shoot for specific organs or target areas like the testicles, it is also dynamically generated, so each shot feels unique. Not once during the hundred plus times I watched the animation did it really become annoying, except for when I was trying to clear out a whole area and noticed just how much it was dragging out some of the fights.
You got something in your eye.
Sadly, while the sniping mechanic is the best part of the game, it is also the only aspect that was given much attention. While going through its eight hour campaign, the one thing that I had realized was that its artificial intelligence was geared more to recognize sound than it was visual cues. This was best demonstrated by the ability to walk slightly to the side of an enemy’s line of sight and be able to perform a stealth take down on them, or by being able to use the silenced pistol to shoot a line of soldiers from front to back without one of them responding.
But, once you do get seen, which can take up to a few seconds of being directly in-front of a soldier, or randomly off in the distance at times, everyone on the map knows where you are instantly. If you are able to flee, the enemies will search the last location you were seen at, but once you are far enough away from that spot or if you just wait long enough without being seen again, everyone will instantly forget about you and anything that happened only a few seconds ago.
I hate tanks.
Another issue besides the AI, was the game’s checkpoint system. As it would constantly fail to trigger, forcing long sections of certain levels to be repeated over and over again after dying. When you add this on top of the agonizing concept that your “sniper” is supposed to detour his escape after clearing out a town, taking out some snipers and following some soldier as he saunters around, so you can go toe-to-toe with an enemy tank, utilizing the most clunky anti-armor tools possible, it can become a bit much to stomach. Thankfully, it does seem like the system will eventually work under the right circumstances, as it did put me halfway through the section, instead of the beginning after three or four attempts.
Overall, Sniper Elite 3 does have a fun kill-cam feature, it does have online co-op and it does have an interesting multiplayer. But, almost everything about it feels like a rushed product that simply cannot be ignored. So, unless you are a huge fan of the series, or just want to see some intense kill-cams, this just isn’t a game I can recommend at its current price point.
A review copy was provided by the publisher. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.