Let’s take the sniping to North Africa.
Rebellion are back with yet more sniping action, this time appearing on the latest generation of home consoles alongside the previous generation and self published for the PC. It’s time to enjoy the glorious X-Ray Cam in even better quality…
Ask any gamer about the Sniper Elite games and they may well mention sneaking, they may even talk about taking down Nazis. But the one feature that they are guaranteed to speak of is the X-Ray Cam, a gloriously gory representation of what happens when a bullet enters the body after a particularly successful sniper shot. In a perverse way, it is a thing of beauty.
Sniper Elite III once again offers a somewhat scary view to the player after they have made a kill from a distance, slowing down the action and turning to an x-ray view to watch as the bullet passes through bone and internal organs to render the target no more. Watching as the bullet enters different parts of the body, from the ever satisfying head shot through to the eye-watering testicle shot, is strangely hypnotic and a simple highlight of the game. It is quite simply what the game is famous for, and it returns here in all of its glory.
However, the X-Ray Cam itself is no real upgrade on that found in Sniper Elite V2, let alone in the older generation of consoles. It returns as a most satisfying reward for the expert sniper, but doesn’t bring anything particularly new to the sniping table. The new stuff comes more from the level design in Sniper Elite III.
Larger levels will see the player given more choice when it comes to achieving their objectives. The action having moved to North Africa gives the player a good variety of different terrain types through which to move, and the more open areas mean that players approach their main targets, or the side missions, from whatever direction they would like. Indeed, collectibles mean that exploring every area of a level could lead to reward.
The same choice is present when it comes to actually dealing with enemies found along the way. While the core gameplay revolves around the use of the sniper rifle, players are not limited and the other weapons which are available all have their benefits and risks. From the essential headshot with a silenced pistol or sneaking up and introducing the back-turned Nazi to the business end of your knife, to laying mines or just spraying the scenery with bullets from a machine gun, there are plenty of ways to cause destruction.
Although such carefree gameplay may well lead to a short game. Sniper Elite III is still a stealth game and does not reward the run and gunner. The enemy AI may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, sometimes making very silly decisions that damage the immersion of the game, but once they have you spotted they are relentless in hunting you down and overwhelming you. Still, at least you have a choice.
Sniper Elite III does a good job of breaking the new player into the mechanics of the game, showing them how to hold their breath and account for wind and such before making their first kill, before setting them loose to wander the map in search of their first objective. There is a story to move the action along and give the hero, Karl Fairburne, a reason for being in North Africa, but it is not especially interesting. Veteran Sniper Elite players will know what to expect and move along without any problems, while new players will be so excited about watching organs explode in slow motion that they won’t care about a story.
Sniping is a traditionally solo endeavor, but Rebellion are encouraging the sniper community to come together with the inclusion of various competitive multiplayer modes and some co-op action for buddies. The competitive modes are fairly average, with the exception of the Distance King mode which sees players compete to kill over the longest distance. The co-op mode sets one player as sniper and the other as spotter, and is enjoyable for what it’s worth. But mostly, these modes are distractions that the game would have been fine without.
Sniper Elite III is hugely satisfying and highly enjoyable as a sniping game. As a standard shooter, it is merely average though, so it really depends on how you plan to play it. The game is rough around the edges and slightly buggy, and doesn’t make vast improvements over the previous entry in the series, but is still a lot of fun to play, and who doesn’t love the X-Ray Cam?