The Sniper Elite series has been around for a good few years now, and for many gamers it’s the go to game for some quality sniper action. Developers Rebellion have zeroed in their focus a bit more this time around for Sniper Elite 3, and it seems the target is to give players more choice in a bigger environment. This feels like the right direction to go in, and certainly an improvement over Sniper Elite V2. However, was Rebellion a little too quick onto the trigger finger in getting their latest entry out the door?
The reason I ask this is because Sniper Elite 3 feels like a step forward for the series in many ways. However while certain facets of the game have been improved there are many that have gone backwards. Let’s start with how Sniper Elite 3 hits its mark. One of the first things you will notice is that the world in Sniper Elite 3 is much bigger then Sniper Elite V2. The broken buildings and cobble stone streets have been swapped out for deserts and palm tree’s, as the game focuses on the conflict in North Africa during World War 2.
It’s a much more scenic part of the world to explore and the updated visuals bring the desert conflict to life in quite a respectable fashion. One of the very first things you should do when starting the game is turn V-Sync off in the options menu. This will give you a much higher framerate than with it turned on. The only difference with it turned on besides the performance dip, is that there is less screen tearing, but I hardly noticed it. Like I said before Rebellion set out to create much larger maps than seen in previous games, and they certainly achieved that. Levels now offer multiple routes thanks to their larger size that you can approach objectives any way you want. This make’s planning your attack a lot more enjoyable and varied than previous titles.
You will choose your loadout before each mission and you can upgrade certain features of weapons like the scope and bolt for more range and damage. You should focus on tweaking your main sniper rifle as the other weapons are very inaccurate. Also Lieutenant Karl Fairburne, who you play as once again, is absolutely useless in hand-to-hand combat. He only knows one punch that always misses its mark, and leads to Karl getting a rifle stock to the face from some half wounded and disgruntled German soldier.
It pays off to kill your enemy from a distance, don’t even try run and gun as Karl gets cut down in seconds if there is more than one enemy around. Killing from a distance with your sniper rifle will reward you with glorious and overly violent slow motion kill cameras. These kill cameras have also been improved to show more detail inside the human body. Bits of bone will shatter more dynamically now. These death cameras look impressive the first hundred times, but soon they get a little repetitive, but luckily you can skip them by hitting X if you want to. The larger levels, improved visuals and gory kill cameras are all great improvements. Even vehicles have their own kill camera now. When a bullet enters the vehicle you can see it destroying the inner workings of engine parts. However that’s about where the good news ends.
The biggest problem with Sniper Elite 3 is that it is riddled with glitches. So much so, that while I was playing I wondered if the game was somehow rushed out the door incomplete because the projects funding had dried up or something. I experienced many unique things happen while playing. When picking up a body it would remain behind, but the animation thereof would continue. At times I was floating above an enemy while performing a stealth kill. These glitches immediately rip you out of the game world that you are trying to get immersed in, and while the odd glitch is okay, it happened way to often in Sniper Elite 3. The AI is the next big question mark, as it swings from impossibly difficult to just plain broken at times. One such example I experienced was when I wanted to distract enemies by blowing a truck up. I threw a grenade at the truck, sending it skyward in flames, but to my surprise the enemies that were mere meters away were completely oblivious to what just happened. Then I threw a stone at the same place and the entire camp lost its mind in a panic, and frantically searched for the source of the noise. It’s all great having realistic features such as controlling your breathing to break the shot on your respiratory pause, and great ballistic effects, but they only make up for so much of the games shortfalls.
I still love the series as there are not many good sniper games out there, and I had a great time with Sniper Elite V2. I feel that Sniper Elite 3 has taken the series in the right direction, with the ability to now play the campaign co-op, in bigger environments, stereoscopic 3D (which should be an option in more games) and even multiplayer. However, it feels like it just needed a little more time to bake in the oven. Slow motion kills are still highly satisfying, so if you don’t mind a few floating enemies and AI that’s all over the place, then you might want to pull the trigger on Sniper Elite 3.