Game Review: Sniper Elite III

Date released: 2014
Version played: PC in 2016/2017 (via Steam)

A prequel to 2012’s Sniper Elite V2, Rebellion and 505 Games’ 2014 offering Sniper Elite III once again sees players take control of United States Sniper Karl Fairburne. Set in Northern Africa at the beginning of World War II, Fairburne is sent to assassinate German General Franz Vahlen before Vahlen is able to complete the development of a new super weapon which is sure to change the tide of the War. The game is third person, but switches to first person when using any of the various sniper rifles, and players will also have the option of using machine guns and pistols as well as various explosives to complete the large, non-linear and open levels.

+ the game may be a “one trick pony”, but that one trick is amazing every time: getting a killshot on an enemy has the camera follow the bullet across the battlefield as it rips through bone, organs and muscles of enemies in spectacularly graphic fashion. Piercing an enemies’ eye or testicles never failed to make me squirm
+ stealth is no longer an afterthought, and is generally a viable option for every mission. The limited silenced pistol ammunition means you have to think about your shots, and try not to miss. However, there was never a /need/ to use stealth, as there was no penalty to getting into firefights and just sniping every enemy
+ graphically the game is impressive, but not groundbreaking. The open levels are usually quite bare, which I do suppose makes sense for a sniping game, but the scope of the levels is impressive (and yeas, hilarious ‘scope’ pun intended). The aforementioned bullet cams are fantastic, but can sometimes start looking a bit cartoonish

– the story itself is as cliched as it gets, complete with the pre-mission monologues you’d expect from any modern military shooter. At times I was sure I was playing a parody game, but unfortunately it was not even remotely tongue-in-cheek. And as if that was not enough, the story ends so abruptly you won’t feel like you ever achieve your main goal
– the ‘level up’ mechanic, here presented as military promotions, is almost entirely unnecessary. Searching enemy corpses provides weapon upgrades, weapon damage depends entirely on the weapons chosen and only the first two or three promotions (which can all be achieved in the first mission) allow you to use different gadgets, and gadgets can all be found in mission regardless of your rank
– much like the previous game, the guns other than sniper rifles still feel like an afterthought. There is almost no reason to ever need to use the machine gun, except for attempted to get a higher score, but since all missions can be replayed infinitely being promoted is not difficult at all

> the second game, Sniper Elite V2, was something of a guilty pleasure of mine. I had been meaning to play this one for a long time, but never got around to it, so I snatched it up as soon as I saw it was part of the Steam sales

Should you play this game: Whilst this was a dramatic improvement over it’s predecessor, overall it still feels clunky and unfinished. For fans of the series, or sniping games in general, this may scratch the itch until the inevitable sequel (or even Sniper: Ghost Warriors 3 set for a release soon this year), but otherwise leave this one alone until the sequel can fix some of it’s flaws.

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