Sniper Elite III: Review & Reality
Sniper Elite III has been out for a short while, and we’ve clocked up some hours in playing through the game, shooting the hell out of the Germans (unlike the Argentineans), and revelling in some pretty gruesome killcams. We think its a bit like Nando’s… Its not the best, but you can’t help coming back.
Every single first person shooter gets compared to the two main goliaths that are Call of Duty and Battle Field, and quite frankly, whilst they are in the same overall genre, it would be unfair to cast a proper comparison as Sniper Elite III is all about the long distance sniping, rather than the run and gun of sweary teenagers. It is a far more tactical and thought out game. Each level has numerous missions and targets, and you can take them out any way you see fit, providing a non-linear route through each map. You need to think about how you plan on getting in and out rather than just diving in with an AK47 and a few grenades.
Whilst we might think the game is slightly underdeveloped, the way it does work is slightly captivating and addictive. Scoring that perfect headshot, enjoying the most ridiculous of kill cams, getting the longest ranged shot possible, it all adds up to a game you keep coming back to in spite of any flaws. At first it seems easy, but the more you play, and the harder the setting, the more you realise that you can keep going. Getting a headshot, without being seen or heard, from as far away as possible, leads to the best experience, which means more unlocked items, which means more weapons and more fun. Bump up the difficulty, take away the cross-hairs and the guide, and all of a sudden the game is very hard. You really need to stop and think when you want to play the game this way.
One particular thoughtful aspect that makes a significant difference to Sniper Elite III over the competition, and also its predecessors, is the ability to toy with the enemy. I say toy, more like lure them to when you want them to be. You can throw stones to distract a guard to sneak past, or you can set a fire if you want to draw a number of guards into your line of fire. Similarly, you can also look to shoot at explosive items, and not just cars, but gas canisters or barrels or TNT. It adds an extra dimension that can make the game last much longer (and not just because doing all of this takes a long time).
Whilst you might be able to manipulate the AI in Sniper Elite III, they still aren’t quite what I’d call smart. When perched atop a watchtower, picking off enemies from a sniper’s nest, even when spotted, they seem to have trouble running up the ramp to get you – mighty odd. Additionally, they don’t seem to notice too much if almost all of their friends, family and troop have somehow gone missing if. Even if they find a body, they tend to stand around it for a while shouting about it. On top of all of that, they also can’t seem to distinguish between a rifle shot and a misfiring generator. However, these are minor short comings. Whilst the setting in North Africa is a welcome departure from the grey tones of city warfare often peddled by the major players, it doesn’t quite deliver on the rich palette Rebellion promised.
The relocation mechanism is a nice thought, but needs work. Being told to run a few meters to avoid decetion is a little useless, when really you can hide somewhere instead. Get running and it feels a bit naff and off balance. The heart rate monitor, useful for sniping, doesn’t seem to add much to the whole evasion element. The game also has a few annoying glitches that simply make it frustrating from time to time. We found that the perfect sniping positions often couldn’t be properly used, dropping down flat to the ground meant you clumsily move around and can’t even manoeuvre into the right position for the designated sniper nests. That being said, these aren’t significantly game ruining issues, and as mentioned before, you can’t help but keep coming back for more…
We got the chance to speak to an actual Sniper who served with the British Army from 1974 around the world on missions that he could tell us about (and bits he couldn’t), and also as a mercenary. Is it anything like the real thing? Well, its obviously not the same is it? The whole moral question is thrown out of the window when you’re picking off pixelated enemies. Aside from that, the main difference is that the vast body of work a sniper actually does is based on field craft: being invisible, traversing enemy ground undetected, gather intelligence, sitting, waiting and learning. You could go days without picking up your rifle. Whilst the Gadgetshow tested playing flight sims as training for actually piloting a plane, we doubt you’d be successful smashing out hours of Sniper Elite III then heading into the field. The Sniper we spoke to had never really played a video game before, but he was impressed with Sniper Elite III. You should be too.
We don’t want to get into an argument about Nandos either (there are definitely better chicken shops out there), but just like the chicken grilling chain, Sniper Elite III doesn’t quite produce the high end of what it aims for, but does provide more than enough addictive entertainment to draw you back in time and again.
Sniper Elite 3 is out now on PS4, Xbox One, PS3 and Xbox 360 from 505 games. It has also recently been published on Steam for all you PC gamers.