Sniper Elite 3 Review (PS4)
Mike tries hard not to let his heart rate go too high
If they only knew. Knew that their lives would end at any second. As soon as that church bell rang again to be exact. I just had to hope that they didn’t move between now and then. Thirty seconds to go. The bell rang once every two minutes and this would be the last time it rang today. Must breathe and stay focused. Keep the target in my sights. Ten seconds to go. Nine, Eight, Seve… “Right you!” the silence was broken as a shoe hit me on the back of the head. “If you don’t stop lying in that long grass and cut the bloody stuff, you won’t live long enough to play anymore Sniper Elite 3!” She has a way with words does my girlfriend.
Sniper Elite 3 is the sequel to Rebellion’s awesome but underrated Sniper Elite V2. Players once again take control of sniper extraordinaire Karl Fairburne. The game is actually set several years prior to Sniper Elite V2 and follows Fairburne’s exploits in Africa as he learns of the Nazis plans for a secret wonder weapon. The story is dished out to you on a mission by mission basis as you chase all possible leads in the hope of finding said nasty weapon. Most of the missions tend to be the “sneak in undetected and rescue good guy / take out bad guy” type. The thing that stops them from becoming samey and repetitive though is the size of each level; it allows for the mission to be completed any number of ways from sneaking and close quarter espionage, a la Metal Gear Solid, to finding vantage points and slowly taking the enemy out one by one. If, however, you are like Han Solo and prefer a clean fight to all the sneaking around you can even choose to go in all guns blazing but you probably won’t last very long.
Anyone who played Sniper Elite V2, will know that the series of games are notoriously difficult. It seems that this time round Rebellion have tweaked things slightly so that Sniper Elite 3 is still hard as nails but gives the player a tad more help. The enemies now have indicators above their heads which will show how alerted they are to your presence. A yellow indicator shows that they have either seen or heard something suspicious. If they find you or you continue to make a racket that yellow indicator will turn red and they will go from passively investigating to actively attacking you. The game also now alerts you should your position become known. Should you fire too many shots from your position, the enemy may figure out more or less where you are and will search the area. At this point you will be advised to relocate so that you remain undetected. These are pretty neat additions to the game and it feels that rather than dumb the difficulty down, you have been given some tools to help even the odds.
Graphically Sniper Elite 3 is definitely a step up from previous games and does indeed look pretty on the PS4. The colour palette of the African dessert (blue skies and golden sands) looks bright and vibrant compared to the bombarded streets of Germany from V2. The whole world looks pretty good, it’s not the best looking game you’ll ever see but there is not much to grumble about either. The best parts of the graphics are also one of the most talked about things of the Sniper Elite games – the bullet cam. The bullet cam / kill shot has received a wee makeover for this next gen appearance. The camera still follows the bullet as we fire it with all the matrix type streaks behind it but we see more detail as the bullet spins and flies towards its target. The kill shot still shows us our victim’s skeleton but we are now also treated to all the vital squishy organs. The result of this is that the kill shots are fantastically gory. Not only do we see the bone shattering but vital organs explode and rupture. It is also a violent and jarring reminder that bullets don’t just cause a red stain that kills you; they destroy your insides before killing you. The kill shots in Sniper Elite 3 can also cause you to recoil should you get a particularly nasty shot. My fifth target was like this; my bullet went straight into the eye socket and I was then presented with the view of this poor bugger having his eye squirt out the front of his skull while his brain and the bullet was exiting the back. It was brilliant and horrifying at the same time.
Now, as enjoyable as Sniper Elite 3 is, there are a few flaws. Dead bodies can glitch through walls, the AI can break and freeze at times leaving you to snipe at will and certain checkpoints fail to activate occasionally. Personally these wee issues were intermittent and never detracted from the full experience.
Normally at this point in a review we would be talking about the multiplayer. At the time of writing this review however, there was still an issue with the PS4 online multiplayer where sessions kept timing out and it was very difficult to try and get a game. Rebellion had stated that a fix had been found and was being thoroughly tested before being released.
Sniper Elite 3 is one of the most taxing and rewarding games you will play this year. It should be treated the same way you would approach a single malt whisky – savoured slowly. Play it too fast and it will bite you. You must also take time to appreciate the various flavours of how the game can be played. When you add this to the length of the game you will realise that as a package Sniper Elite 3 is something special. So grab a bottle, settle down with your favourite rifle and take your best shot.
4 exploding squishy bits out of 5Sniper Elite 3 Review (PS4),