"Rebellion’s latest WWII shooter is not only a massive improvement over its predecessor; it’s undoubtedly one of the greatest sniper games of all time."
Imagine playing one of your favorite titles and compiling a list of things you want changed or fixed to make the experience even better. Now imagine personally handing that list to the developer and having every concern addressed. That’s precisely how I felt after finishing Sniper Elite III. I’ve always been a huge Sniper Elite fan, but V2 had its share of bugs and poor design choices. Well, Rebellion’s latest WWII shooter is not only a massive improvement over its predecessor; it’s undoubtedly one of the greatest sniper games of all time. I haven’t had this much fun with a sandbox since Far Cry 3…Yes, it’s that good. This doesn’t mean that Sniper Elite III is flawless. Poor AI is still a major problem and there isn’t enough environmental diversity. But even with its faults, Sniper Elite III is an absurdly fun shooter that shouldn’t be missed, regardless of the platform.
Sniper Elite III continues OSS sniper Karl Fairburne’s story during World War II. Instead of the cold ruins of Nazi Germany, we’re now traversing the exotic North African scenery. The plot has never been the series’ strength and Sniper Elite III is no different. Each mission is introduced with a slideshow of amateurish paintings and monotone voiceovers and there’s little to make players care for the characters and their conflicts. That’s ok though. No one is going to play Sniper Elite III for its narrative. Much like in previous entries, the X-Ray cam and superb sniping action steal the spotlight…only this time around; everything has been polished and refined for a smoother and more diverse gameplay experience.
"You can play stealthily avoiding alarms and getting close and personal, you can hop from sniping nest to sniping nest, sabotaging machinery to camouflage your shots…or, if all else fails, simply cause utter chaos and have half the Reich gunning after you."
Unlike previous entries, stealth plays a much more substantial role now. Most sections can be cleared using the silenced pistol and knife with the sniper rifle only utilized during key moments. This makes each kill more satisfying and there’s far more planning involved than just sitting in a corner and picking off enemies. Levels are now massive and wide open. Objectives can be reached via multiple entry points and each environment is packed with side objectives and collectibles. It’s clear the developers took major inspiration from Splinter Cell: Blacklist and Far Cry 3 with Tom Fisher-esque sneaking abilities that make Karl finally feel like a real assassin. As a result, gameplay is far more diverse and challenging. If Karl is exposed while surrounded by enemies, he can’t simply crouch and wait for the heat to pass; instead he needs to escape the danger zone before reassessing the situation.
"A game’s fun-factor is my main criteria when rating games and I haven to admit I had more fun playing Sniper Elite III than most recent AAA releases. "
Objectives are rather straightforward and not particularly original (kill some officials here, destroy a tank there…free a prisoner and so on), but it’s how you choose to reach each goal that makes every playthrough unique. You can play stealthily avoiding alarms and getting close and personal, you can hop from sniping nest to sniping nest, sabotaging machinery to camouflage your shots…or, if all else fails, simply cause utter chaos and have half the Reich gunning after you. Spicing up the campaign is the option to play the entire game with a with a co-op partner, which completely changes the battlefield dynamic. Sniper Elite III truly defines the term sandbox. The sniper rifle and pistol aren’t your only weapons either. You can lay down traps, throw grenades or dynamite and even start fires to cause diversions. It’s all about player choice. Once all eight stages are cleared, Sniper Elite III offers the usual multiplayer mode and two very interesting side activities: the Distance King competitive mode and the co-op Overwatch mode. The former has you scoring kills from the longest possible distance while the latter has you teaming up with a buddy where one player does the sniping and the other servers as a spotter. Both modes are quite addictive and it’ll be interesting to see whether the developers add more content to them with future DLC.
"Aside from the incredibly jaw-dropping X-Ray cam, the African scenery is absolutely gorgeous."
Visually, Sniper Elite III may not be a massive generational leap, but it still impresses. Aside from the incredibly jaw-dropping X-Ray cam, the African scenery is absolutely gorgeous (although I wish there was more variety from level to level). The most impressive thing would have to be the level designs. They’re not only massive, but offer numerous sneaking paths and sniping positions, which encourages exploration and experimentation. A game’s fun-factor is my main criteria when rating games and I haven to admit I had more fun playing Sniper Elite III than most recent AAA releases. It may not be flawless, but once you get hooked it’s impossible to let go. Even if you weren’t a fan of previous entries, Sniper Elite III is a gargantuan improvement over V2 and is an absolute must-buy if you’re looking for something a little different in your action games. With a slightly bigger budget, more development time and a tighter narrative, Sniper Elite could become the next big thing…until then, think of it as a cult classic that knows its core audience.
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: PC