Sniper Elite 3

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Date Submitted:15/08/2020 - Date of editing:04/12/2020
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Developers:Rebellion

Sniper Elite III is a third-person tactical shooter stealth video game developed and published by Rebellion Developments. The game is a prequel to its 2012 predecessor Sniper Elite V2, and is the third installment in the Sniper Elite series.

Sniper Elite III SEE DEAL is a celebration of extravagant carnage - and, less significantly, a big improvement over 2012's Sniper Elite V2. Its predecessor's stiff, linear gameplay has been swapped out for a more open-ended, creativity-enabling approach to stealth-shooting. But the big draw – the real draw – is the same pornographically violent X-ray-vision carnage that erupts whenever your bullets meet their targets.

These slow-motion, long-range kills are what keep Sniper Elite III from being just another generic-looking World War II shooter. Every effort was made to milk them for dramatic tension. When aiming, you can hold your breath, slowing time so you can watch that red dot shrink in on your target. Tight close-ups of the bullet in flight are accompanied by a steadily swelling roar, giving your shot a sense of impending destiny. Provided your reaction to the resulting gore is a sick thrill and not actual sickness, this is so immensely satisfying that it renders every other weapon at your disposal anticlimactic by comparison.

The kill-cam moments never got old enough for me to opt to skip them, but they might have if the rest of Sniper Elite III weren't so competently designed. Centering on Karl, a gravel-voiced American sniper, who seems to almost singlehandedly dismantle the German Afrika Korps, you are taken to a lot of interesting settings in a theater of the war that's rarely explored in games, and given semi-free rein to explore and murder Nazi occupiers in whatever way you deem fit. That’s what gives Sniper Elite III its edge - and not its story, which is awash in clichés and occasionally laughable dialogue.

The campaign consists of just eight stages, but they’re a blast to creep through. Each one is enormous and has multiple objectives meant to give you a clear progression through the map, but how you reach and tackle those objectives is up to you. And when you factor in handfuls of enjoyable optional tasks, like blowing up a German motor pool or stealing top-secret plans, and the many deaths you're likely to die, finishing a single level can take as long as a couple of hours.With a guard AI that’ll usually spot you if you run or even poke your head up above cover, Sniper Elite III encourages you to take it slow and stealthy, spotting and tagging guards with your binoculars. And should you decide to take a shot with anything but your silenced pistol – like, say, your sniper rifle – it's a good idea to either be near some noisy machinery that'll cover up the sound, or immediately move somewhere else after you take your shot.

This push to relocate gives Sniper Elite III a fun, furtive cat-and-mouse feel, although like most stealth games, it doesn't always make sense; all you need to do is sneak or run a prescribed distance away from the guards until they forget you ever existed.

But remember, there's no penalty for breaking stealth – and because you mainly earn experience through kills, there's no real reason not to clutter the horizon with bodies if you can get away with it. Dropping guards in quick succession always left me feeling like an efficient badass, even when it was due more to their uneven combat AI than my own skill.Sniper Elite III's multiplayer maps are huge and filled with hiding places, and they're built to emphasize distance and sneakiness. In fact, two of the standout modes are Distance King and No Cross, which respectively reward teams based on the range of their kills, and separate them with impassable barriers meant to force them to snipe. These modes are enjoyable, but they're not fundamentally different from what you'd find in any other online shooter. Co-op, on the other hand, is much more rewarding. Not only can you tackle the entire campaign with a buddy, but you can also pair up in the waves-of-Nazis Survival mode and the engrossing Overwatch, which hands binoculars to one player and a rifle to the other, forcing you to work together as a sniper-spotter team.

Verdict

Sniper Elite III's open level designs and objectives pack in more than enough variety and stealthy tension to counterbalance its thin story and shaky enemy intelligence, and experimenting with its explosive traps is almost as fun as popping skulls with a sniper rifle. The skeleton-shattering, long-distance kills are still its riveting centerpiece, of course, but even without the element of dumb fun they offer, Sniper Elite III would still be a smart, unexpectedly memorable experience.

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