Like many thousands of gamers, the Sniper Elite series is one that passed me by, Sniper Elite 1 is barely remembered and Sniper Elite V2, was one of those games, I kept hearing good things about, but never actually gave it a chance, even though the only negatives being “A Few bugs” or “Dodgy A.I” which in the age of patching games after release these are things that wouldn’t ring too many alarm bells.
So looking at the 3rd installment for the Franchise, Sniper Elite 3, Most people will draw comparisons to Battlefield, Ghost Recon or maybe even Call of Duty, Set in World War 2, (In Africa) Shooting people with your rifle, silenced Pistol, or a limited range of less useful SMG’s or pistols, initially it screams shooting, and lots of it.
But the game I felt closest to Sniper Elite 3, is Metal Gear Solid (Ground Zeroes).
Purely because once you’ve played the game, you realize it’s not all about shooting a handful of enemies and running to the next checkpoint, this will work in small sections, but with so many tactics and options available to you, it’s wrong to ignore the choice at hand, and taking your time to discover the options available such as alternative paths, or a completely fresh approach in how to take out the enemies (maybe using traps, stealth and diversions, rather than out-and-out gun-play.
Personally I felt a mixture of tactics worked well, stealth takedowns on unsuspecting enemies close-by, finding a generator to sabotage (creating background noise) then using the clanking of the generator to mask my sniper shots to take out enemies at distance, When going-loud was more necessary, a few carefully placed traps, with a clear view of a corridor, was an effective way of taking out groups of enemies, and carefully placed shots into a trucks engine or fuel tank will clear small groups of enemies, this does however highlight the rag-doll effects, which while not always realistic, it’s good to see, apart from when you start sniping people in animation, who are jumping over a wall or climbing a ladder and their corpse gets stuck in the wall shaking like a lunatic.
For any left alive, you can use Rocks, to lure enemies into an isolated area, or use flint to create a small fire, which works as a distraction, or when accompanied beside dynamite as a timer for the explosives, place these under an adequately placed AA gun, and once the timer expires, you’ll get a glorious slow motion explosion showing bodies flying everywhere.
And this brings us on to the greatest achievement of Sniper Elite 3, the slow-motion sections, When you use your sniper rifle, the game will sometimes, occasionally or all the time, depending on your settings) follow the bullet in slow-motion, showing the flight of the bullet, as it nears the target, time slows further, and when inches away from the victim, x-ray kicks in, and you see the bullet sweep into the body, viciously splitting bone, and exploding organs, on paper it sounds like this might be a bit of a novelty. Which it is, but it doesn’t wear off quickly and wont for most inside the 12-15 hours you’ll spend working through the campaign.
Watching the accuracy of your sniping, especially at range, and seeing the devastating damage it does to the guards skull, is far more pleasurable than it should be, and when you take the inevitable plunge and start aiming for his crotch, hitting a testicle shot will see the package explode like a grenade in your pocket, leaving any guy wincing, with an accomplished smirk across their face.
As mentioned, you’re looking at a good length for the campaign, (no pun intended) 12-15 hours for most, though rushing through might beat 10 hours, but as soon as you replay a few missions, you’ll soon discover alleys, passages and often complete areas you’ve missed, these are often rewarded with the mandatory “Collectible card” or “Intelligence document” These aren’t important, but they do serve as a reminder to sometimes check your surroundings, Likewise with looting the corpses of your downed foes, not only will they be carrying much needed ammunition, grenades or bandages, You’ll occasionally find a weapon upgrade, these upgrades aren’t plentiful, and with only the zoom, Muzzle and Stock customized with Either a Blue or Advanced modification, It means you’ll quickly find you’re preferred set-up especially with only 4 Rifles available.
There’s more options to change the Reticle, (about 20 in total) But I think it would have been much better to see a few more rifles, and custom options instead of hiding them behind future and already released DLC.
One thing worth mentioning about DLC, is that while extra missions, and weapons are already (and likely to continue being) Paid content, There’ is the promise of Maps being released which will be free to all, which is a real bonus for those playing online.
Playing with friends (or enemies) is another Area Sniper Elite 3 covers well, Firstly the whole Campaign is available cooperatively, and paying through with an ally, working out your plan of attack and blaming each other when you end up firing without cover.
The Co-op campaign does work very very well, and the major downside is that it’s not integrated into single player, so if like me you play 6 missions in co-op then hope to carry the on solo, you’re back to square one in a totally separate save, and while the slightly questionable Artificial intelligence is a small issue on every mode, The only severe bug I encountered was on co-operative, when I was climbing a ladder (leading to the objective) as my co-op partner hit the magic point, triggering a cut-scene, after the movie, my character was stuck in the climbing animation, and upon trying to move, he fell to the ground (at least 2 inches) and stood up like a straight 3D render with zero animation, I could look around with the right stick, but it was then up to my partner to try and complete the mission alone(In which he failed miserably), while my character was still stuck motionless, eventually we had to restart the mission, but I’m happy to put it down to a one-off as I’ve not had a single issue since, But if you are playing through it might be worth avoiding animations such as climbing when near to an objective marker.
You also have a few other co-operative modes, which are listed with the extra single player challenges, these include Survival, where you and your partner need to pick a position and defend with your lives as increasingly difficult waves of enemies try to hunt you down.
There is also over-watch mode, which has one player left with only a rifle, and the other without a rifle, running around below drawing enemies out for the sniper to take out.
They’re both full fledged and impressive modes, you can spend many hours playing, which is a statement to the value you’re getting.
Finally there’s the competitive multiplayer, various modes ranging from your standard deathmatch, to teams of two, with one playing as a spotter and the second a sniper. Again there’s plenty of options, and while the multiplayer isn’t as high quality as fans of Battlefield and Call of Duty might expect, nor as populated, It’s still more than enough to fill your time while you wait for September through to November, when the AAA titles are released.
With the Exception of Watchdogs, and Wolfenstein, there’s nothing near the quality of Sniper Elite that’s been released in 2014, and while I can completely understand some people will be comparing SE3 to what’s around the corner, or last-generation games, I believe that right now, Sniper Elite 3 is one of the better games available on the Xbox One (PS4) and deserves a look.