- Replay Value
Sniper Elite 3 is the carnage driven methodical approach to the modern military shooter. Unlike its predecessor Sniper Elite v2, this third installment of the franchise takes a much more open world approach, giving you the freedom to choose how you want to reach your objective, whether it be a slower, panned out approach or to go in sniping and running. This change makes the game different with each play through, allowing you to take one point of approach the first time and then go an entirely different way another time. This adds additional challenges each time you play. This also allows you to revise your plan and method in how you want to approach an objective. If you find one way is not working the way you want it to, you can run the opposite way and possibly have more luck.
The game’s main staple is the bullet cam. Each time you achieve a long-range sniper kill, the camera follows the path of the bullet from the barrel of the gun all the way to the enemy you hit. Once that bullet reaches the enemy, carnage ensues, showing the devastation of the bullet on the Nazi. This ranges from scrambling his intestinal track to the most brutal form of castration I have seen in any medium. Not only are these kills rewarding to watch and pull off, but you also gain experience from it. There is almost nothing more satisfying than seeing “Testicle Shot” appear on-screen and the game rewarding you points for it. There are occasions where the AI and the bullet trajectory do not necessarily match up, such as the soldier shooting forward and down after landing a head shot, but these kills are still rewarding to execute and watch. If watching these kill cams is not something you are into, you can always just switch it off to happen less frequently.
The campaign mission maps are huge with varying uses of cover in the missions. You can see that the levels are designed with sniping in mind, with lots of rooftops and high cliffs next to big camps. Throughout the levels there are also generators you can sabotage to create noise in order to mask your shots, allowing you to take full advantage of the sniper positions available to you. If timed correctly with the noises, you can slowly and methodically pick off each Nazi like they were fish in a minuscule barrel, making you feel like a god amongst snipers. The game also has the mechanic where if your shots are heard by the enemies around you, they will have a general idea of where it came from and begin to slowly head up that way. If you continue to take shots without moving, they will narrow in on where you are at and, given enough time, they will know exactly where you are. Then they will storm your position and get into close quarters, a sniper’s nightmare. This forces you to shoot and move in order to stay undetected and more importantly, alive. These mechanics allow for a robust playing experiences, making you think about every move you take and how you will execute it.
When it comes to the campaign story itself, there is not much to write home about. In regards to World War 2 stories, there’s not much new in the play book and the main character is generally just a vessel for the player. You play as Karl, an American Sniper in the African Front who is trying to find out about the secret Nazi weapon being made. There are no real twists here, even though you can see the attempt made by the developers try to create a sense of drama close to the end. This attempt was too little too late and feels generally forced and wedged in. The voice acting is not the best to be seen in recent years either, but does enough to move the story along. You know the basics of what you are supposed to be doing, and the level intros serve as a good indicator of where good sniper spots are and the general area of where your objectives will be located. Paying attention to the map cut scene will greatly aid you in your planning and execution stage in the level, which is where this game shines.
Graphically, this game does “ok” by next generation console standard. It never suffered major clipping and texture fades. While the art style is drab and very tan, there isn’t much else you can do when your game is set on the African front. The gun models are very well done and, based on real guns, very realistic. The game a good job of making sure you can spot weak points on vehicles as well, making them bright red if tagged with your binoculars. This helps in pulling off the quick shot chain reaction kills to take out 5 soldiers pouring out a truck.
While Sniper Elite 3 is not the most graphically intensive game, nor one that is narrative heavy, the game provides a highly satisfying experience that should not be missed. The Bullet camera is always fun to watch. I mean, to see a Nazi’s brain splatter out of the back of his head or a testicle exploding upon impact is great fun in my book. The open world aspect of this game also makes the levels much more varied and interesting to sneak around in. I enjoyed being able to play how I wanted to play, straying from a linear path like the series’ previous installments. Sniper Elite 3 is a breath of fresh air in the military shooter genre. By not forcing twitch controllers on you in order to be successful, it made you form a well-planned form of attack in order to achieve victory. Sniping Nazi’s has never been more satisfying.