A Snipery Good Time Marred by Inconsistent Gameplay | Sniper Elite 3 Review
* At the time of review, a major multiplayer patch was still in certification. Therefore this review only pertains to the single player experience.
The Sniper Elite series has, in all respects, become better with each iteration. With the refinements made to the X-ray kill cam, The stealth mechanics and the opening up of your murderous playground, Sniper Elite 3 looks to top its predecessors, and, in most aspects, it has. But, the bugs and oddities from previous Rebellion titles have been carried over, which muddies the experience that could have been.
It’d be a lie to say that Sniper Elite 3 bucked the trend of lackluster stories in shooters. I can’t say with honesty that I ever knew what was really going on throughout the campaign. I knew I had to complete various objectives to progress to the next chapter, but the storyline is so thin that after 50 x-ray kills, I quickly forgot what actually went down in the previous chapters, besides the bodies of numerous Nazis of course. The story represents the most glaring problem for Sniper Elite 3. It’s insanely fun, but if you don’t get pulled in by the X-ray kills mechanic, there isn’t much of a reason to help Fishburne complete his mission. Whatever that mission may be. The overarching plot does however deal with taking out a super tank of sorts. You must battle through levels, finding the whereabouts of this super tank aptly titled, “ wonder weapon,” to keep it from being created by the Nazi forces. If they were able to create such a weapon, the end of the Allied forces would surely follow. The overall story is simply a skeletal structure with nothing inside to hold it in place.
The gameplay of Sniper Elite 3 has remained pretty close to its predecessors but features some pretty unique enhancements that aid its overall gameplay. The most obvious change is that of the relocation cue. If you are unsuccessful in being the ghostly sniper that you should be, or simply want to complete a section as quickly as possible, a silhouette of your character will appear, showing the location that the enemy last saw you. If you leave that area you will successfully relocate, and they will return to their patrols. The only problem is that the A.I. is extremely inconsistent. Sometimes you can walk right along side a guy, and he won’t even know it. Other times you will be seen from miles away. Also, once their icon shows red (attack mode), the entire base is after you, which leads to less sniping action and much more running and gunning, or running for cover.
Speaking of stealth, the game is set up for fun stealth sections. There are plenty of opportunities to mask your shot and sections where you can easily take out the majority of the enemies, but not being able to stealthily take out a guy in a chair or standing behind a wall may ruin this plan. Yep, that’s right, you will have to resort to killing these enemies in other ways which, while not being hard nor impossible, is just so aggravating that it wasn’t built into the game. Plenty of games manage it, and it really just seems like an oversight by Rebellion. The other egregious mistake that was made was with the audio. There were plenty of occasions where I killed everything that moved, but from somewhere, you could hear some chatting over the radio, yet there was nobody near me?
But, since the game is called Sniper Elite after all, you’ll be happy to know that the sniping is just as good as ever. Rebellion added two layers to x-ray kills, adding in muscles and the circulatory system, which allows you to see exactly what your round is doing once it enters the poor soul it hits. The x-ray kill-cam never seems to get old, and experimenting with shooting the enemies in various body parts is very cathartic in a way. And yes, the testicle shot made it in once again, and it’s just as cringe-worthy as ever.
The jungles and desert of North Africa are quite nice to look at and a nice change-up from the corridored nature of past games. The game features great, crisp image quality with very few frame drops (unlike in V2, the last game), which greatly enhances the overall atmosphere. The more wide open level design also allows for some lengthy shots that will have you holding your breath while pushing the right trigger. While these shots are at extreme distance, the deep draw distance allows for these miraculous kills to be taken at ease. Another nice touch added into Sniper Elite 3 was the way they handled secondary objectives. Most games lay them out for you plain as day, but Rebellion opted to go for an approach that seemed much more organic. While exploring you will find items that will eventually trigger an optional objective, allowing you to pruuse that quest before completing the main objective. This, in a sense, encourages you to explore the nooks and crannies of North Africa.
Sniper Elite is a fun, addicting game to plug through in about 10 hours, but its small errors add up to a larger miscalculation, hindering a game that could have been much better. It would be interesting to see how much better the game would fair if the care given to the X-ray kill mechanic was also given to creating a memorable story and perfecting every other gameplay system. The bottom line is that Sniper Elite 3 features great sniping but doesn’t have enough polished mechanics to want to keep coming back.
+ X-ray kills
+ Open areas
+ New Environments
+ Secondary quests that begin when triggered and aren’t laid out at the beginning
– Weird A.I.
– Bad Audio
– Inconsistent stealth