Rebellion and 505 Games deliver the third instalment in the Sniper Elite series that puts a greater emphasis now on the gore-fest slow motion bullet kills than anything else you’ll see in-game. As a prequel to Sniper Elite V2 from 2012 which in itself was a remake, the mind-set of maybe being third-time-lucky in an attempt to produce a decent solid and satisfying shooter has failed. Sniper Elite 3 is the all dancing, brighter, shinier version of the other Sniper Elite’s with continued distinguishing shit AI and visual pop-ins the franchise could be famous for. You may not be able to polish a turd, but Rebellion has proved you can at least roll it in glitter!
For next-gen consoles the bar was raised in terms of expectations, but unfortunately the game falls flat in its face in being anything remotely exciting as far as WWII shooters are concerned. Starting out with the positives that are most noticeable from the graphical improvements – Sniper Elite III on Xbox One now appears to look exactly how you would have expected it on Xbox 360. With Sniper Elite V2 being completely basic in its visual capacity it is nice to see a more developed and fancier version of Sniper Elite on Xbox One, but still not “all-that” in the way of what you might be expecting. If anything, the best visual display is in the slow motion bullet kills with a much more refined impression of internal body parts that come crashing and smashing out as you perform perfectly timed and aligned shots to head, lungs, heart and other organs. If you are not familiar with Sniper Elite, in slow motion the bullet tears through the air before forcefully impounding itself into the body, and you get to see organs tear and burst, bones shatter and your enemy dies on the ground in pool of his own blood. The downside in this title is that it comes across completely over-done, way too much and with almost every shot. By the time you’ve completed one mission you’ve practically had a biology lesson on every vital organ in the human body.
Other visual enhancements are the environments themselves; although a dated WWII period you are stealthily wondering around North Africa with rocky deserts and landscapes around three times larger than previous Sniper Elite games, and additionally the greener levels with heavy foliage and trees appear bright and inviting to explore. There are more objects and enemies placed within the levels than in any other Sniper Elite title also making the game seem more difficult in some areas which require tactfully though out processes. On the whole with the visuals it has given the title a cartoon-like appearance due to the brightness and enhanced lighting. Nothing in the way of visual realism, but definite improvements over any other Sniper Elite, albeit still basic for next-gen!
Another positive (yes there is another despite my introduction to the game) comes in the way that gameplay has changed. Likely due to the increased scale of environments, but there now feels like more player choices can be made in your exploration of the levels. It is not entirely open-world feel due to the missions which lead you in the directions set, but you can take far more different routes and paths to your objectives set on screen and interact more with the levels through your decision making. By having more choices that allow you decide how to set up and kill an enemy from a distance or even a whole squad of soldiers marching in your direction enables you to feel as though you’re really setting your own direction. Cook grenades, blow up fuel tanks, and go prone with a selection of weapons at your own leisure. So long as you kill who needs to be killed, travel to where you need to be placed, all the other movements in the middle to clear the way are there for you to have as much fun with as you need. In-between the important tasks – it’s your battleground!
It’s a no brainer that with a game titled Sniper Elite your obvious choice of primary weapon is a Sniper Rifle, but you do have the option for more close range guns at your disposal that I found were more useful taking out enemies who were on the hunt for you when up close. A range of SMG’s, Silenced Pistols and even a Panzerschrek Rocket Launcher offer the quick get-the-fuck-out-of-here scenarios when targeted at close range. The further you progress in the game, the more you are able to unlock and customise your weapon load-out. From the Inventory screen you can additionally set up grenades, Med-Kits, Dynamite and Trip Mines to further aid you in your missions. Depending on your difficulty level is how realistic the Sniping become as it takes in to account realistic bullet physics, this is somewhat counter-balanced when you have a game that tells you where to aim though, but at the easier settings it is pretty much a clear shot regardless of marksmanship, weather and distance. For a real challenge and exceptional difficulty to get the most out of Sniper Elite III you need to play it on Authentic difficulty (if you can handle it).
The AI in the game just ruin the experience completely with dawdling around on foot, looking in the opposite direction and some just casually walking right past you when on the hunt for your trail following a loud successful kill-shot. It is very easy to be clear of enemies and completely ridiculous how bone-idle they are considering they are elite soldiers. You can kill one soldier and the guy standing right next to him will give an all clear within seconds – it’s like no one gives a shit that you just killed someone, he’ll just sit right down on the seat and wait to get shot in the kidneys or lungs just like everyone else!
The campaign itself is a predictable average experience; it is mostly fun but as a next step game into a new console era it is another been and done, tried and tested step in the same old territory. Expanding the game further, however is a full set of Multiplayer Modes that take advantage of the Xbox One Smart Match where you can just sit back, relax and do other things in-between the game trying to find you a Lobby to join. Five different modes of online gameplay are available from familiar ground with Team Deathmatch, a Free for All Deathmatch, Team Distance King mode where it’s all about Team kill distance, Distance King where it’s all about Solo kill distance – and finally, No Cross which is Team Deathmatch with a twist. The twist is that both teams are separated with no chance of a close quarters fight, so this is the ultimate hide & seek!
Multiplayer with a decent team is extremely fun, but finding matches seems to take quite some time at the time of writing. Sniper Elite over all is desperately crying out for modernisation and innovation. It really is about time that World War II was put to rest – and despite a rather decent multiplayer across some very large maps, the whole package is rather dull and not quite as exciting as I had initially hoped.
You’ll be trading this in, in next to no time!
Thank you to Xbox for providing the review code.