With the new generations of consoles, Rebellion is back, pursuing perfection in their hit series, known for intense infiltration and sniper skills: Sniper Elite III. The third installment (if you don’t count the offshoot Nazi Zombie whatever-it-was titles) comes out with rather interesting changes, including semi-open level designs, new mechanics and obviously, the return of the franchise key feature – The Killcams… And that my friends, is all I needed to hear.
After our first mission, scripted as a tutorial and rather unexciting, we start admiring Rebellion’s ambition in terms of level design… And thank god to be honest. Gone are the tight corridors and lack of differentiation between one chapter and the other, Sniper Elite III is vast, with environments that fits better to a true marksman. There’s everything from a Sahara desert fort infiltration, to a mountain village, passing by an airfield… Mainly, there’s a lot of variety of spaces, with a constant effort of vertical reach and a multitude of neatly placed interiors for cover.
As you are free with your approach on how to finish the mission, there’s more to it than a main core objective, as we are given optional side missions that never fail to trigger us to tackle them. The best part would be the extensive arsenal Karl Fairburne has (the franchise lead hero), stacked with mines, dynamite, without forgetting his sniper rifle, adding all kind of layers of experimentation within a mission. In one instance, we set up trip mines at the entrance of a watchtower, protecting our flank while we make our way to the top, to lay in fire to the Axis forces, headshot after headshot… Priceless.
Speaking of headshots, as we said in our intro, Sniper Elite III brings back the inconic killcams everyone admire, but this time with far more intensity. There’s nothing more gratifying than watching a slow motion bullet penetrating the flesh, while detailing the impact it has to the vital organs, nerves, bones and skulls, all the way to bloody exit of your enemies’ body (check the video below).
As much as visually being expert in putting intense kills in all its motion, Rebellion also shows weakness in this field. As much as we felt fully immersed in this virtual field, firing each of our masked shot to the noise of a an artillery fire in the distant, there’s some bugs that wakes us up from our perfect elite soldier dream. A strange collision on an invisible wall, weird animated enemies who seem to disappear, or even objectives that wouldn’t load make Sniper Elite 3 quite frustrating.
Worse, your foe’s artificial intelligence sometimes ruin our well-oiled plans. Being caught by the comically X-ray vision of an enemy, or getting hit by a bullet even when logically under cover ruin the experience, but at least it doesn’t happen as often. Difficult and quite demanding, Sniper Elite III’s infiltration system pushes you to try until you succeed, with a sort of hot zone speedometer that turns red when you are found, forcing you to back away from the area until the enemy grows tired of the search.
If human enemies were a concern, mechanized ones are as illogical as their organic counterparts. Tanks act like humans, with the same viewing angle, same reactions, and sneaking around the area seems rather unreasoned, with the sound space of your footstep seemingly reaching areas that wouldn’t in real life… Fortunately, nothing of this has drastically ruined our desire to see the end of a very successful campaign, although I should mention that my game’s Xbox achievement are not getting recorded for some reason.
As with the other titles, Rebellion spoiled us with their game lifespan, reaching well over 15 hours, that could easily be replayed with a friend in cooperative mode (at the time of writing this, we haven’t tried online play yet). There’s also a survival mode with waves of enemies that will appeal to its share of fans, and a multiplayer mode, where each player has its role – one mark targets, the other shoot, etc – bringing an extra competitive edge to the game.
Fans of Sniper Elite will be pleased with this new installment, especially given the fact that it is far more appealing to the eye with bright colors and better graphics, though might still be too much of a niche title to appeal to new fans. Even with the help of a publisher, Sniper Elite III still lacks a great deal to bring a AAA experience, putting itself in a straight balance between the beautiful and the ugly, still remaining a solid game, with a great shooting sensation, regardless of the occasional buggy mechanics.
Sniper Elite III was reviewed using an Xbox One review copy from 505 Games. The game is also available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and PC. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.
• Broad and engaging levels
• Diversity of situations and objectives
• Those gruesome headshots and killcams
• Coop Campaign and multiplayer
• Overall bad finishing
• Failed AI
• Weirdly mixed audio
Playing Sniper Elite 3 reminds you that Rebellion lacks resources. There's a sense of compromise in the production, that still manage to preserve the essential, with engaging infiltration possibilities, numerous gameplay options, in exchange for a dumb down AI. Although we haven't had the time to test multiplayer as the servers were down, there's enough content in this title, with upcoming DLCs, and the iconic "Kill Hitler" mission, to have any marksman get its fill this summer, before the big yearly shooters get released.