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Sniper Elite 3 Review: A Floater
Sniper Elite 3 how you disappoint me so,
What you did well was graphics,
You failed in story, physics and flow,
I was looking for refreshment,
But now I have to give this average assessment,
Sniper Elite 3 is a game that seems to be unsure of itself. On one hand, the actual sniping part of the game which combines semi-realistic bullet physics with arcade-y violence which is refreshing in the franchise, and in the shooter genre. But on the other hand everything else packaged around that, is poorly done and that’s putting it lightly.
Watching Nazi skulls explode from a precise shot right between the eyes is definitely punishingly gory eye-candy which those Nazis deserve, but it only gets Sniper Elite 3 so far. Towards the end of the game I found I was skipping those cut-scenes just to finish the game. With a weak story line that was lazily written, I found myself wandering around around a linear map design and shooting as many enemies that I could before crossing the “finish line”. There is limited exploration, limited rewards, and limited side missions, everything in Sniper Elite 3 feels limited, a wasted opportunity.
Sniper Elite 3 is an uphill climb as soon as the first mission starts. While you’re running around to get to a checkpoint atop of a ridge, the camera feels clunky, like there is a tall person behind you filming with a toaster, it’s not cinematic, it’s always resting in the centre of your screen, and being a third person shooter, it is necessary to have play with your camera.
That being said, the first few missions of Sniper Elite 3 are a great first impression to the game, setting up a partially non-linear experience and you collect your bearings and get a feel for the game, as you become the ultimate Nazi killing machine in Africa in WWII. As i referenced earlier in my beautiful poem, the graphics and visuals are amazing in this game, you make your way through a series of military installations, camps, and outposts preforming different tasks that range from; assassinations, stealing secret plans, search and destroy and other less notable tasks. How you complete these missions, is in large part up to you; you’re given the tools and a blank canvas to work with. I will have to admit, choosing whether to run into a camp guns a-blazin’ or choosing to take a sneaky approach, picking enemies off without being seen, gives you a sense of manipulation of how you want the mission to play out.
The biggest selling feature of Sniper Elite 3 is of course the sniping, which, depending on how difficult you want to make the game, can be as realistic or simplistic as you like. Want to take into account all factors like wind speed and distance before shooting? You can do that. Want to ignore everything, and just where the centre of the reticle? You can do that too. Sniper Elite 3’s sniping can be as deep or as simple as players want. Aside from a few over-exaggerated bullet physics, like if you’re 20 metres away from a guy and you have to raise your gun to well above the targets head. Or if your target just happens to be behind some trees, the aim assist is non existent and gets annoying that you can’t hit your target because a friggan BRANCH IS BLOCKING YOUR PATH, COME-ON. With that aside, every time your fire a bullet in Sniper Elite 3, and you hit a Nazi right square in the temple, you feel empowered.
Most will recognize the Sniper Elite franchise for its slow-mo X-Ray kills, which track the bullet from whichever rifle you choose; M1 Garand (American), Carcano (Italian), Gewehr 43 (German), and the Lee-Endfield MkIII (British) right to the target and depicts horrific ballistic violence from point of entry to point of exit of the bullet. In Sniper Elite 3, developer Rabellion upped the ante from previous games, developing ballistic animations for lung, heart, intestinal, and yes, even testicle shots, like if Mortal Combat had bullets. Unfortunately, as i referenced above this gets a little old towards the end of the game after you’ve seen most of the animations, Sniper Elite 3 makes every kill feel destructive. The violence is a little overindulgent, entertaining, but can be messy, and you wonder how the other enemies don’t notice a massive amount of blood on the ground or wall.
Around all of this excitement of blood, gore, and non family-friendly violence, is Sniper Elite 3’s stealth sections where the protagonist Karl Fairburne, tries to make his way through a series of landscapes or building. Which gives you the option to create your own path to your destination using your own customized loadout, but you normally follow a road to each checkpoint.
The game starts to fall apart after this open “freedom” Sniper Elite 3 gives you when it becomes unclear how to best tackle a given situation. Since this is a Sniper Elite game you would think the best course of action would wait for opportune moments such as an explosion, or a plane flying overhead and firing your rifle simultaneously, picking off enemies one-by-one, but that isn’t always the case. At times it’s better to sneak around with your pistol, bypassing enemies so you don’t have the whole camp looking for you, but thanks to some inconsistent A.I. this is very boring. Sniper Elite never makes makes it clear what options are available, and that’s a problem since it’s terribly frustrating, especially at the harder levels, as you can spend an hour navigating your way through an enemy camp, just to die on the last stretch because you made a mistake with sound. Ugh.
This brings us to multiplayer, a very weak point in Sniper Elite 3, you know, I have always wanted a pure sniping game where you find some cover, wait for your enemy to make a move, if nothing happens you find another place, and repeat. Boring as that may sound, it provides a feeling of intensity and makes each and every kill worth it, something that is missing in the run-and-gun world of gaming since Call of Duty popularized the twitch shooter genre. Unfortunately that is exactly what Sniper Elite 3 is, a third person run-and-gun twitch shooter with some snipers in the distance, and for those like me who want to treat Sniper Elite 3 like an extension of the campaign, this ruins the experience. It’s hard to stalk your prey when everyone else is running around like chickens with their heads cut off throwing grenades and shooting wildly in every direction. Survival mode fairs much better, but looses its novelty rather quickly.
Rebellion has struck a chord, Sniper Elite 3 intrigues me and there is no doubt Rebellion is on to something here. They have a foundation, but they need to build on that. Rebellions inability to draw clear gameplay distinctions in Sniper Elite 3, with inconstant A.I, a bricky camera setup, unclear campaign story/execution, and a multiplayer mode being so off-putting, these factors really pulls the overall experience down. Sniper Elite 3 smartly incorporates realistic sniping concepts into its gunplay, but at the end of the day, Sniper Elite 3 is a floater, it’s a disappointment, it isn’t a full blown sniper simulation, it isn’t a full blown stealth game, it isn’t a run-and-gun shooter. Each mode has its moments, but its not cohesive as a whole.
I’d give Sniper Elite 3 a 6/10. It’s poorly executed, poorly scripted, and poorly designed, but those moments of shooting a Nazi from 300 metres away and seeing his brains and skull shatter with the impact of the bullet make up for at least some of the faults in this game. Imagine crushing an orange with your hand, that’s Sniper Elite 3. A game that can’t support its own weight and falls apart at the seams.
- Stunning Graphics
- Realistic Sniping Physics
- Bullet Camera
- X-Ray Ballistic Mode
- Unique Rifles and Guns
- Great Foundation
- You Can Kill Hitler
- Drawn-out Story
- Inconsistent A.I
- Horrible Camera
- Unclear Campaign
- Weak Story
- Bad Execution
- Erratic Multiplayer
- A Floater of a Game
- You Can Kill Hitler For Extra $$$ (DLC)