You sneak around, carrying your trusty scoped rifle. Slight movement on the second floor of a ruined house betrays the position of an Axis soldier. You immediately find cover, aim and start taking into account distance, wind speed and gravity. Your breath becomes slower, deeper and more focused as you gently squeeze the trigger. BANG! Like a faithful puppy, the camera follows the bullet’s trajectory closely as it smashes the unsuspecting soldier’s skull and splatters his brain all over the nearby wall.
Welcome to the brutal world of Sniper Elite 3
While in reality snipers can be used to kill critical personnel and cause panic in the enemy ranks, Sniper Elite 3 brings it to its extremes. Awesome, hilariously over the top extremes. If you want realism and expect an authentic World War 2 sniping experience, you’re not going to find it here, since at one point you’re even able to shoot and explode heavily armored Tiger tanks with your sniper rifle.
The story is as forgettable as it gets and the character development is nonexistent. In short, you’re the generic lone sniper who’s going to bring the entire Nazi army to its knees, one kidney shot at a time. This is reminiscent of the old-school shooters such as Doom, where the action provided enough momentum for the story to be completely irrelevant.
Spilling the guts
X-ray killcams are still here, in all their gory glory. You can tweak the frequency with which they appear and the recommended setting is “minimal”, since they can become too grating at times and interrupt the flow of the game. It’s possible to turn them off entirely, but a lot of feeling of power is generated exactly through the scenes of such comically gratuitous violence.
Compared to the previous title in the series, levels are much more open, which gives you more sniping positions, more approaches to any situation, more areas to explore and hidden trinkets to collect. This is a massive improvement and boosts the Sniper Elite 3’s replay value dramatically. The world is also now painted with a spectrum of vibrant colors and lighting effects instead of being in shades of beige and gray.
Weapons vary from grenades to land mines and pistols. There are assault rifles but they are weak to such a degree that “run&gun” approach is heavily discouraged. Ignore your itchy trigger finger and always keep in mind that you aren’t supposed to engage with the enemy in the open as they will quickly overwhelm you. Even running degrades your aim, since there is a heartbeat meter that fills up when you jog and empties only when you sit still.
Cooperative mode does exist and it’s actually quite fun. One player assumes the role of a spotter and marks the targets for the other player to take them down, which is surprisingly close to how sniper teams work in reality. Multiplayer works on a similar principle and you can merrily run around with the binoculars, helping your team win without firing a single shot.
Is gut spilling enough?
Sniper Elite 3 is a fresh take on both the stealth and shooter genres, creating a novel mix that unfortunately won’t appeal to either the hardcore fans of shooters nor dedicated players of stealth games. If you belong to the narrow demographic that loves both shooters and stealth games equally, you’ll feel right at home. Otherwise, you are likely to be frustrated with how much Sniper Elite 3 shoehorns you into a specific gameplay style.
Albeit the series is already starting to show signs of creative fatigue, Sniper Elite 3 is the most polished entry up to this point. If you are able to forgo your standards for just a little while, then Sniper Elite 3 is the perfect game for breaking the monotony of your day.