Published on July 23rd, 2014 | by Don Parsons0
Sniper Elite III Review
Summary: Slow-motion kills for the win.
Things were so quiet I could hear crickets. I was tasked with sneaking into an enemy camp in Africa to retrieve the enemies plans. The Nazis were up to something, and we had to find out just what that was before things got worse for the Allies. I took out my binoculars and spotted a few patrol soldiers, along with a guard tower and a few more guards further north around a campfire. After a few more scans of the small camp outside the main facility, it was time for action. I laid down to get a more steady grip on my M1 Garand and held my breath to get a bead on my first target. An overhead airplane drowned out the noise of my firing gun, and I watched the bullet in seemingly slow motion pierce my enemies testicles. I wanted to savor that moment longer than I could, but I had a few more guards to take out quickly before the alarm was raised.
Sniper Elite 3 is riddled with satisfying moments. Rebellion has moved the series’ setting from Europe to Africa for the third entry in their Sniper Elite series, but the main protagonist remains the same. Don’t worry though, as though this is the third game in the series, it is self-contained enough so that people like myself who only dabbled in the series, or even those who haven’t played a single game, can enjoy the campaign.
The first half of the campaign felt a bit bland from a narrative perspective. The gameplay kept me entertained, but the narrative was not interesting or engaging. But after one of the missions, once I realized what I was actually trying to stop, the plot quickly became a lot more compelling. From that moment forward, I had a hard time not pushing on in the game because I wanted to see the resolution.
Don’t get me wrong though, the mission structure, even though it appears the same from mission to mission, has this beautiful way of presenting itself to the player. There was never one way to finish a mission or progress through an enemy encampment. Instead, I was presented with a variety of choices. Sometimes, taking the off-beaten path proved more difficult than I anticipated and I died a dozen times trying to go forward. But then I would backpeddle, and make it through the checkpoint with no problems. These choices were one of the many things that kept me engaged from mission to mission.
That being said, the frustration from my failed attempts kept me from playing more than a mission at a time. I’m not a bad sniper, but that’s once I got to my sniper nest. It felt like there was a little more sneaking around than I was prepared for. In the grand scheme of things, it made sense (that’s what snipers do, after all). I just didn’t find that portion of the game to be particularly entertaining.
There were a variety of tools at my disposal, including rocks for distracting people and SMGs to deal with enemies when things got too close for a sniper rifle. Two-thirds of the way into the game, though, I ended up simply using my trusty M1 even when the enemy was hot on my tail.
Those kills just felt more satisfying, as opposed to pistol kills or SMG kills. Maybe it was the slow-motion, X-ray camera shots of bullets cracking bones or piercing testicles, but the game just felt more fun with a sniper rifle. Those slow-motion camera highlights never got old, either. Watching a bullet slowly travel through the air and into a Nazi eye socket is just downright, wholesome American entertainment no matter how you look at it.
One of the key features of this series is realistic bullet ballistics. Now forgive me, I only played on normal difficulty, but even on that setting sniping is a lot different than a lot of other shooters. I didn’t notice a lot of wind, but gravity played a major factor and missing a shot can really screw up an otherwise smooth execution on getting to the objective.
There are just a few negatives to drag it down a little. The biggest one from the get-go: competitive multiplayer is a dud. I played a few different match types, and when I finally got into those games after a lot of searching, I was shocked (/sarcasm) to see everyone camping. For some dumb reason, it didn’t dawn on me that was a sniper-centric game when I clicked into the first match. Of course *I* wasn’t running around, but when I realized no one else was either, it was a face palm moment for sure. It simply wasn’t very much fun.
Co-operative campaign, that was something I really looked forward to. I could certainly play the co-operative survival with other people, but I couldn’t do one of the big perks because you are forced to play with a friend. There is no random matchmaking. I guess that makes sense and all, but I was incredibly disappointed because I couldn’t play this game mode as of this writing.
Sniper Elite 3 still had one of the most enjoyable campaigns I have played in a long time. A very long time, in fact. Titanfall may be my competitive fix, but I have a feeling I’ll be returning to Africa to clean out some more Nazis in slow-motion very soon.
This review was written based on gameplay on the Xbox One console with material provided by the publisher. For more information on our review policies, please read here.