Sniper Elite III is actually an enjoyable “shooting” experience. I say that in a surprised tone, because it’s also no longer a one trick pony either. The sniping is still the headline feature, but there’s much more to it now. If you looking for a fun, tactical shooter, Sniper Elite offers something a little out of the mainstream path. It’s by no means perfect, and far cry from the polished mainstream games it will go up against, but still definitely good fun.
Publisher: 505 Games
Distributor: Apex Interactive
Reviewed on: PS4
Also available on: Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC
If we had to give it a numerical score: 7.5/10
What I loved
- Sniping slow motion visuals never get old
- Semi open world allows for tactical approach
- Multiplayer and co-op add value
Not so much
- By no means “next-gen” visuals
- Weak narrative
- Some technical shortcomings
- Generic NPC’s
I’ll start with the shortcomings. Don’t even ask me what the story is about, I lost any desire to follow the narrative within minutes. It doesn’t help that the narration is dull, as are the pre-rendered sketched visuals, between mission that tell the story. I was also not too excited for the game, as I remember somewhat enjoying the previous installment, but I thought this sequel might be more of the same. It is not though, the developers fleshed out everything surrounding the headlining sniping aspect.
I am always glad when it’s the PS4 version of the game we receive for review. The hope of improved graphics when the game arrives. You could be forgiven for thinking Sniper Elite III was a previous-gen game, judging by the visuals. It’s not bad-looking, but it’s not all that impressive either, aside from solid a frame-rate. The only reason I mention the frame-rate is because you do a lot of sprinting – the frame-rate speeds up for effect, and everything remains completely stable when you do so.
There’s also some technical shortcomings to report, none game-breaking or anything, but annoying nonetheless. There a lot of generic’ness on the production side, from the static terrains to the repetitive NPC’s. I could deal with this though. The issue that kept coming up again and again was the limitations in where you could go. The whole joy of the game is that you need to scope out areas, plan and execute – this is pretty much the game’s credo. The problem is that you’ll almost feel like you’re in an open-world, only to find you can actually cross a certain stream, or “go here or there” – very random and annoying.
The overall gameplay is a lot of fun though, and after a few hours, the fun-factor had me forgiving any quirks. The sniping mechanic remains unchanged – you go into slow-motion visuals, watch the bullet’s flight into the target seen in X-Ray style. It’s gruesome and never gets old. You have a normal zoom on the D-Pad and then you can go into a focus by holding your breath. It’s nice and technical too, as you not only need to hit a different button to focus, but you can also only focus until you’ve emptied out your lungs. Then you need to wait until re-filling the lung gauge. To further make the sniping technical, you need to take into account any wind factor and anything blocking your target – a cursor will highlight in grey when there’s an object in the way and red when on target. Whereas the previous game was all and only about the sniping, SE3 offers much more.
So as I mentioned, the gameplay follows a defining theme. You can tackle areas and objectives in whichever way you want. You’re equipped with a pair of goggles, and it’s best to completely scope out an area, mark targets and objectives, plan and carry it out in whichever order. There’s a few nice little tricks to make things interesting. Things like distracting foes by lighting little fires with an equipped flint and stone. You can also distract foes by using various elements to make noise – such as short-circuiting a generator that will “bang” every now and then. So you would short-circuit the generator, line-up a target through your scope and wait for a “bang” to disguise your shot. There’s even a visual indicator of the noises that will disguise your shot. This is paramount because when you go into focus mode, the surrounding noise is muffled by your heart-beat. This whole feature was well designed and executed.
To further the ‘picking-off targets’ aspect without being found, the devs added a few nice little aspects. Firstly you can used a silenced electric type of weapon, you can stealthily approach and melee targets, or distract and avoid. A nice new aspect is the alertness feature of the enemies. They wither hear enough to suspect, and an indicator will tell you the foe is at a heightened state of alert. Or if you blow it and shoot away without any disguise of the noise, you give up your position, so chances are high the enemies will suppress your position. When this happens you need to sprint to flee the given up spot which is now highlighted. You need to successfully get 30 yards away from your last known position to successfully become a “ghost” again. This can be quite exciting and there’s plenty of elements or objects within the environment to aid you in staying out of sight. It can also be a little random too, as you can be picking off an area – shoot this guy, run back 30 yards, come back and rinse and repeat. When you do get creative, things get really fun.
Sniper Elite III is good value too, as the co-operative addition works well. Adding another person to the plan of attacks adds a very engaging and fruitful dimension. The progression system is incorporated throughout the game, so you can level up, unlock and edit load-outs to use in throughout the modes. Your XP is earned throughout too, and I love how everything is connected. Unfortunately while the co-op is good fun, the multiplayer side of things doesn’t quite working harmoniously. I really struggled to get in and stay in lobbies. Finding a game was not a problem, the lobby would fill up, and drop, time and time again. The game modes, like so many others in the genre, are the developers versions of what’s been done. From all out team versus modes to the hold and capture type of modes – unsurprising and not the highlight of the game for me, when it worked that is.
Despite Sniper Elite III not really being outstanding in any department, and not at all aesthetically impressive, as a whole it works and is good fun. It is also technically sound bar a few aspects, and good value for money thanks to the extensive game modes. So it’s one of those games that I would definitely recommend, but keeping in mind that it’s certainly no “big brand” title, like most of the ‘shooters’ available. And unlike these other big titles in the genre, Sniper Elite III’s multiplayer will quickly be forgotten, even if I get it to work consistently, come the next big shooter.
Read about our ratings here.
You can buy Sniper Elite III from our affiliate here.