Sniper Elite 3 – Game Review and Analysis
By Dan Maurer
Developer: Rebellion Oxford
Publisher: 505 Games
Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Release Date: July 1, 2014
Genre: Tactical shooter, stealth
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer, co-op
The scenery may have changed but your role hasn’t. You’re sent behind enemy lines to sneak around and disrupt the Nazi war machine and you do this by graphically demolishing the faces, torsos and testicles of as many German troops as possible. After the foreplay of lining up your shot, you hold your virtual breath, squeeze and let fly. Time slows down as the camera lovingly traces the path of your bullet, thrusting manfully towards its target. If this camera view is triggered, you already know it’s a hit, so there’s no tension, it’s all pleasure. Just as the bullet gets close to your target, everything slows down even more. We get to see the blankly oblivious face of your chosen quarry, the bullet now mere inches away from his skin. Then the X-ray kicks in as you penetrate, bones splinter, organs disintegrate, and it’s all rendered in detail.
Sniper Elite follows series commando Karl Fairburne as he head-shots his way across the various theaters of World War 2. This time, he’s made his way to the hot, sand-swept deserts of Northern Africa. His task: to stop the evil General Vahlen and his experimental tank factory at all costs. It’s cliché even by war story standards, and it’s served even worse by the distance Sniper Elite 3 puts between you and the events that unfold. Karl speaks with a total of two characters during the entire campaign, and outside of one or two missions, he’s basically a lone wolf, skulking through the shadows. It makes sense, given his profession and all, but the narrative is missing that human element that make good war stories great. Sniper Elite 3 is a third-person shooter with emphasis on stealth and long-range sniping, and it remembers the old days fondly. In the campaign, I expected to sneak between checkpoints in more or less a straight line, but I found big open maps and the freedom to solve problems how I wanted.
In multiplayer, I expected to be asked to log in to something or other, but I found custom player-hosted matches and dedicated servers with 23 possible rules modifiers. The series gruesome trademark, a slow-motion bullet cam that follows the projectiles through bones and organs with x-ray vision, is here and still misses the point. The gore is ridiculous enough to be funny, sometimes, but after the 50th brain-splosion I turned it off. In the regular difficulty levels, Sniper Elite robs you of that feeling. While looking through your scope, you can activate ‘Focus Mode.’ It’s the ‘hold your breath to steady your scope’ function in most sniping games, but in Sniper Elite it also puts a red box where your bullet will go, taking into account gravity and wind speed if you have ballistics turned on. There are lots of unlockable reticules, but no way to zero the scope, and no practice range with targets at set distances for me to calibrate my understanding of their markings.
Modern graphics aren’t one of Sniper Elite 3’s stand-out qualities, either. It certainly looks better than a game from 2003, but the character faces are plastic-like, and some of the cutscene animations are action figure stiff. The environments are detailed enough, often mazes of rock formations with crisp textures, but I caught a lot of flickering in the distance, which is especially disruptive when I’m trying to pick out bodies from the distance. But what holds back “Sniper Elite III” is its bugs and its story. The artificial intelligence for example, can inexplicably find players who quietly move through a building. The online mode is a mess with glitches. Meanwhile, Karl has all the charm and appeal of a wet napkin. He’s mind-numbingly boring and apparently can’t open doors to save his life.
While Sniper Elite 3 is a somewhat fun game, it also leaves a lot to be desired. If you are in desperate need of a shooter with limited multiplayer and gun options, then Sniper Elite 3 is the game for you. Otherwise, I would hold out a little longer till this one hits the bargain bin.
PunchDrunkGamer.com Final Score: 6.5 out of 10
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