Sniper Elite 3 focuses on gameplay where you try and do plenty of sneaking around and sniping from far away. This 3rd person shooter had me expecting to slip between checkpoints in more or less a straight line, but I discovered independence in the game and large open maps to deal with any issues as I saw fit. In multiplayer, I anticipated some sort of log in system, but I discovered custom player-dedicated servers and hosted matches with 23 rules modifiers to choose from. Is it possible that this year gaming has truly gotten this awesome?
Well…no, no it hasn’t. Let’s review.
Having some gorgeous, up to date visual are not one of the standout qualities of Sniper Elite 3. The surroundings are pretty nice and detailed with sharp textures, but I found lots of flickering going on when I looked far away. When I am attempting to pick out bodies to gat this is particularly irritating and distracting.
When you play through on a normal difficulty, the game takes away the feeling you get when you somehow manage to pull off a great shot. When you peer through your gun’s scope you can activate ‘Focus Mode.’ This is commonly seen in most games that revolve around sniper shots, and basically just lets you steady your gun while your character holds his breath. In Sniper Elite III it will additionally show a red box where your bullet is going to hit. There is no happiness in the way the game handles this sniping as there is none of the estimation involved that would allow for a great shot.
In the game there are eight assignments, and all but the first tutorial assignment are open and large, with secondary targets, secrets, and multiple paths. Never will you be told the best way to solve something, which actually allows for some very enjoyable gameplay.
Around one mission, for example, I would creep into a camp assassinating officers and searching for files that I need on their bodies. Or I could’ve run around with my submachine gun expecting to be able to shoot everyone else before I die and make a ton of sound. Another option would’ve been to slip in and secretly slit the required throats. It is lots of fun to develop a strategy and carry through with it, and Sniper Elite 3 gives the independence to do that.
The largest issue is the enemy AI. On the easiest level of difficulty, the enemies apparently have no brain whatsoever. Once there was one that ran face first into a wall in pursuit of me. On the hardest difficulty level, the enemies are exceptionally hostile, but still brainless. Neither are considerably interesting to socialize with, except to complete the job by placing another hole inside their heads.
Fire off a single shot and enemies will run to cover. End up hanging around for too much time or shooting wildly and they end up running back to fight you. Leave for a short while and the enemies end up completely dismissing the dead body that is lying at their feet and return to roaming about the map.
One characteristic in particular does help to keep concealing yourself somewhat fun: audio masking can allow you to choose specifically timed rifle shots to avoid giving your position away. For example, having to wait for some form of sound cover (artillery fire, for example) and having to monitor my target’s movements adds an excellent touch of pressure.
However, firefights are too frequently caused by specialized problems rather than thoughtless shooting, when they do occur. Firstly, there aren’t any surround sound settings, and the audio system is a horrible judge of space. Enemy voices can be heard by me from way too far away, and it more often than not sounds like they are right next to me. It is perplexing.
Playing through the story shows a game that is buggy with ridiculous AI, but even so I found that quietly ambushing an AA gun crew with my pistol, firing off a perfect long range shot, and then running to keep the insanely dumb Nazis from finding me can be quite rewarding and enjoyable.
The multiplayer is actually pretty decent. There are a number of different modes to play and five maps, but what you can play is actually pretty great. There is no close-range fighting, multiplayer is all sniping. Personally I love that so many things you see in campaign mode can be found when playing multiplayer, and it can be flipped off/on with modifiers. For example you can enable that ballistics calculator if you need, though my personal preference is finding servers without it.
Half the challenge of multiplayer is attempting to locate your enemy, and I really like that I’m able to play an entire round as a spotter, deciding individual pixels out from soil pixels, labeling them, and observing one of my teammate’s bullets fly across the map.
Sniper Elite III does everything better than V2, but it is definitely quite similar. As much as I love it, though, I can not look past the annoying motion system, the bugs, and the AI that is so exploitable. The multiplayer is enjoyable, but there are too few maps and modes. There is sure to be some nice downloadable content to come, though.
Some of the failures of Sniper Elite 3 are rather amusing, and a number of them are simply frustrating, but the thoughts the developers had are not bad and myself, I truly wish that they do not stop the game as it is. Hopefully they push out some nice patches for the game. Practically speaking, though, I anticipate we’ll need to await Sniper Elite 4′s release for any sort of progress that is major.