505 Games’ latest WWII inspired shooter Sniper Elite 3 is available now on consoles and PC, but is this third outing for the series worth checking out, and has it nailed a winning formula this time. Take a look at our Sniper Elite 3 review for the full picture.
Sniper Elite 3 Review:
Today we’re taking a look at the 505 Games published and Rebellion developed Sniper Elite 3 which sees our rifle toting hero battle the Germans in the North Africa regions during World War II through a solo campaign and co-op missions. It’s the third entry in a series which prides itself on realistic bullet physics and an impressive bullet cam when skill shots are performed and retains those familiar elements as players sneak or snipe across several open ended playgrounds. The series has always maintained an element of exploration, but it seems the gloves are off this time as players can now freely roam areas and accomplish multiple on the fly objectives aside from any requirements the main campaign presents. The open nature provides ample opportunities for well placed long range kills, but isn’t so forgiving allowing you to stay in one place and simply kill any incoming charges, although this is entirely possible for those with deadeye aiming. For those that are grounded the AI reactions are more streamlined to cope better and track the last known position and then flanking, or staying within cover, their actions forcing players to relocate to keep the AI on its toes.
Players are forced to think carefully about their actions before executing them, which means scouting an area first and marking enemies using the trusty binoculars. Then players have to weigh up the pros and cons of making noise from afar or getting up close and personal by either sneaking past patrols or going for silenced melee or pistol kills. The game does a great job of both approaches and if things do go wrong, then a bit of machine gun fire is always a savoury back up to fall on. There’s also running away at great speed, but the Germans are pretty good shots and if there’s little cover is simply an invitation to get shot from behind all dramatic like. What’s a neat mechanic and one that whilst a little predictable is being able to use ambient sounds to mask gunfire. Whilst essentially a waiting game for the sounds to loop, it’s an interesting feature for those who want to dive deeper into the role. For the impatient, there are bits of machinery that can be tampered with to create “natural” sounds to mask shots, but these mean staying close to the source of the sound. By design, the maps are well tuned to providing perfect locations for shooting at range, and so exploring the maps is very much encouraged – it’s also by moving around that side objectives are triggered which range from blowing up stationary vehicles to tracking specific German Officers.
To mix things up a little, the game does introduce armoured vehicles into the fray which can prove to be fatal as once spotted it’s pretty hard not to be shelled into oblivion. As expected, going toe to toe with a tank isn’t advisable, although with the numerous gadgets available such as land mines and dynamite, a bit of pre-planning can make light work of the heavily armoured. There are also plenty of anti tank weapons lying around for those with more curious tendencies, but it’s the option to take down tanks with the sniper rifle that is the most viable and satisfying. In these instances players are tasked with hitting a small weak point in the vehicles armour which usually requires several hits. There’s also a slot for taking out the gunner which lessens the chance of eating shell. Thanks to controlled breathing where time seemingly slows and aim becomes more focused these performance shots aren’t so hard.
Sniper Elite 3 offers a fairly lengthy campaign backed by an XP gathering level system which affords extra gear as ranks are gained , so with the size and scope of each of the 8 levels, there’s enough replay value to jump in and obtain hidden items and more experience to add to the tally. There’s also more than one way to tackle each mission for the most part which certainly has to be explored before putting the campaign to rest. Aside from multiple approaches, there are four weapons loadout slots which enable you to select various tools for the job and upgrade the main weapon with things like improved scopes and action.
In terms of looks, Africa provides a less gritty feel compared to the previous games, being more organic looking with softer tones used throughout the day and night operations. The most impressive effects come from the close up bullet cam shots where their target is presented in slow motion x-ray to emphasise where the bullet travels through the body. It’s a neat visual element even after so many times, and is even more impressive when taking down vehicles which explode with some impressive physics. There’s a nice looking game here, which although lacking in finer details, is pretty accomplished but still has some issues with distant objects not rendering smoothly , some awkward animations and frame rate dips. The audio works well with a realistic mixture of ambient sounds drenched in enemy conversations and spot music when the intensity increases. The vocal performances during cutscenes are expected and to the point but do convey the backdrop to the missions well enough. There’s not so much a gripping story here, rather a narrated set of parameters outlined by historical imagery.
If players tire of the campaign, then there are some survival missions to play through which is effectively the sniper version of horde mode seen in other games. Then there’s the option to invite friends to play co-op missions online which is a welcome addition, but is oddly not open to the wider community. For versus play, there’s an online matchmaking component which can be tailored to jump into several sniper themed competitive match types. Sadly, if games aren’t full then expect long drawn out bouts where nether player move and most of the time is spent looking through binoculars.
As a rounded package, Sniper Elite 3 aims to be the best yet, and in this regard offers the most comprehensive and diverse gameplay of the bunch. However, the lack of a more cohesive story makes the game feel devoid of character aside from the gun porn x-ray close up shots which the series offers in abundance. As a game to sink the hours into, there’s some welcome playgrounds to mess around in which also command a bit of replay as well. So in terms of value for money, the game delivers on all fronts. The only real negatives for the longer term are lack of players in the online modes and no means of connecting to other co-op players outside of friends. If you like stealth games, then this is a worthy candidate for your time and energy, less so if you’re more akin to twitch shooters. Gamers who favour sniper based gaming can relish in the fact that the core essence of the experience is tailored to your tastes, and in this regard, it presents an enticing departure from the less specialized norm.
Score 8/10 – Review by Robert Cram
Review code supplied by 505 Games.