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Sniper Elite 3

By MrJenssen21-07-2014
Bobfish (editor)
BloodyFanGirl (editor)

The Defence

505 Games
Action, Shooter, Stealth
Release Date:
US 01-07-2014
EU 27-06-2014

The Prosecution

Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2 GHz
AMD Athlon 64 X2 2.2 GHz
Nvidia GeForce 8800
AMD Radeon HD 3870
2 GB
18 GB
10, 11

The Case

The art of sniping isn’t exactly a new thing in gaming, but just few developers have devoted entire games to it, and even fewer have succeeded. While UK developer Rebellion’s former attempt - Sniper Elite V2 - certainly was enjoyable at times, it felt more like a linear third person shooter with occasional sniping sections, than a full on sniping game. Two years later and the series’ third full instalment is finally out. Have the concerns of the fans been tackled by Rebellion as promised, or are they aiming too high?

The Trial

For anyone unaware, the Sniper Elite series has always been about exactly what the title suggests. You’re Karl Fairburne, an elite sniper sent behind enemy lines during World War 2, to shoot anything and everything that walks and talks like a German. Weighing up for a lackluster and forgettable story about a barely present German general and a ridiculously oversized secret superweapon, Sniper Elite 3 compensates by giving you the freedom to shoot enemies in the nutsack.

Sniper Elite - Deadlier (and more colorful) than ever.

Sniper Elite - Deadlier (and more colorful) than ever.

The first thing you’ll notice about Sniper Elite 3, is that it abandons the drab and dreary streets of Europe for colorful desert oases and ancient castles in Northern Africa. The goal remains largely the same; locate your targets, and eliminate them. Along with most features already seen in V2, the series’ signature X-ray killcam naturally returns in force - now with even more gritty details like muscle tissue and blood veins for you to pulverize. It even has been extended to vehicles this time round, though far less detailed. And of course, you can still tone down or even disable the killcam completely if you find this gimmick to be...gimmicky.

What you’ll also notice right off the bat, is that you’re given significantly more freedom to move about during the missions. There seems to always be an alternative route, if the one you planned to take suddenly fills up with goose stepping sauerkraut suckers. You’ll rarely find yourself downright forced to kill any of the non-target grunts you’ll find scattered through the vast open maps.

The increased openness is a good thing in and of itself, as it increases the campaign’s replay value and lets players experiment with different playstyles. Additionally it automatically improves several other aspects of the game. Take the 2-player Co-Op for instance. What used to be little more than a tacked-on gimmick in V2, now feels like it has a real purpose. You and a buddy can now coordinate attacks from multiple angles, set up ambushes for enemy patrols - or pull up the binoculars and play spotter for each other, marking enemies that also pop up on your friend’s screen. Especially on the higher difficulty settings, it’s nice to have a friend around for the more tense moments.

The maps are huge and give you plenty of tactical options.

The maps are huge and give you plenty of tactical options.

As in previous iterations, there are elements in the environment that’ll create noise to mask your gunshots if you time them right; a generator misfiring, a fighter plane passing overhead, German artillery pumping salvos god knows where, and so on. Unlike in V2, here you won’t instantly get spotted by everyone in the nearby area as soon as you let loose an unmasked shot. The first shot will startle enemies, force them into cover and make them suspicious. Another shot will alert them and send them to investigate your position. That is, unless you take advantage of the new relocation system that has you move a certain distance away from the position you fired your last exposing shot. Once you do that, you’re free to start the process all over again. It’s a neat system, at least on paper, that encourages you to move about the map rather than just stay camped at the same site, picking off your enemies one after another.

There are several new mechanics across the board. Enemies don’t instantly spot you when you’re in their line of sight anymore. Instead, a circle above their heads fills up with yellow when they’ve seen or heard something suspicious. It’ll then fill up with red if they’re about to spot you. The game’s improved stealth system now lets you hide in bushes and shadows to avoid getting spotted too easily. And that’s a good thing, because these Germans must’ve eaten a lot of carrots in their childhood, their eyesight is, dare I say, übermensch.

That’s not to say the enemy AI is good, though. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Depending on the difficulty setting, enemies go from being brain dead on Easy, to brain dead with night vision eyesight and the ability to distinguish the sound of friendly footsteps from enemy footsteps from a mile away on Elite or Authentic difficulty. While games with amazing AI like the original Crysis are best experienced on the hardest difficulty setting, doing so in Sniper Elite 3 only make the many glaring issues with the AI more apparent. For instance, enemies will react to seeing dead bodies and will alert others. But they seem to have a serious case of Alzheimers, because they tend to forget that their friend just got shot in the testicles after about half a minute of searching for you. What’s worse is that the AI isn’t just bad, it’s also wholly inconsistent. They’ll spot you incredibly easily, but once they do, they have no problem sitting down in the open and firing on you until either one of you are dead. And if you run a small distance away, they seem to forget you ever existed in the first place.

The game boasts several new systems - but do they all work?

The game boasts several new systems - but do they all work?

The curse of the abysmal AI haunts the rest of the game’s features too, hampering the overall experience. It’s good that enemies react to the noise you make, but how in the world can they hear that the boots you’re wearing are American-made? As soon as you stand up from the crouched position and start walking around, soldiers from far away will come running to investigate. Because of this, the otherwise highly useful ability to pick up and carry dead bodies out of sight is rendered pointless and is in fact counterproductive, as you’ll automatically stand up to carry the body, which promptly turns everyone’s attention to you.

The relocation system is equally flawed. You don’t really need to relocate so much as just run the required distance away from your last known position, only to return again moments later and continue shooting people. Because once you reach that required distance, enemies immediately drop their guard. Nobody will come swarming the last place you were seen and making it impossible for you to return. But at least because of that, you won’t need to engage in the game’s dodgy third person shooting, which will more often than not have you fall prey to the game’s horrendous new automatic cover-system.

Along with the ability to play through the entire campaign with a buddy, you also have the typical cooperative horde mode, and the returning Overwatch mode. But while Overwatch in V2 was a sort of nod to “how things could’ve been” back then - the more open maps than what the actual campaign offered which gave one player the role of spotter for the other player who took sniper duty - in Sniper Elite 3 it feels more like a pointlessly restrictive endeavour when compared to the sprawling open levels of the main campaign.

Let's be honest here, he didn't really need his brain anyway...

Let's be honest here, he didn't really need his brain anyway...

Competitive multiplayer suffers from a similar lack of dedication. The five maps offered at launch are all nicely detailed with lots of little houses, hills, nooks and crannies to hide in, but the game modes in contrast are as generic as can be. All of which are variants of deathmatch. There’s deathmatch and TDM, a “no-cross” mode where each team spawns on separate sides of a river or crevasse and must shoot each other from afar without the ability to flank, and a mode where it’s all about getting kills from the longest possible distance.

Still, the multiplayer component has a few things going for it. Tedious grinding is kept to a minimum as the obligatory progression system that allows you to unlock a disappointingly small amount of new weapons and gadgets carries over from the single player to the multiplayer. The campaign’s flawed relocation system at least works a lot better with real human players as it rewards those who relocate to a different position after a kill by offering a double score for the next kill, and tripling it for the next one after that. The ability to pull up your binoculars to mark an enemy for all your friends to see also helps to punish douchebags who feel like camping out in the same spot the entire round. With a few friends, the multiplayer can be fun enough for a few hours here and there, and the amount of options to enable or disable on the server-side is to be commended. The developers have promised regular content updates with maps and weapon packs - some of which have already been released - though I can’t help but feel that without some unique objective-based game modes, the multiplayer is doomed to die a slow death. As it stands now, it feels more like an excuse to raise the game’s overall price than an actual worthwhile part of the game.

The technical aspect is once again a bit all over the place. The game mostly looks very nice and it’s a lot more liberal with its color palette than most shooters these days. The character models are top notch, texture quality is overall good and animations are solid. But the unintentionally overexpressive ragdoll physics are like something you’d expect out of Just Cause 2, with bodies flailing around wildly as they’re flying through the air after taking a sniper’s bullet to the cranium. The quality of the sound is good, and it won’t distort or blow out your speakers when the killcam is activated this time around, but the positional sound is completely off. You’ll be able to clearly make out what your enemies are shouting as if they were standing right next to you, when they are in fact halfway across the map from you.

The multiplayer maps are well designed, but the game modes will bore you from the first match.

The multiplayer maps are well designed, but the game modes will bore you from the first match.

There are also a slew of bugs, big and small, that spread a little extra salt onto the game’s gaping wounds. Enemies will get stuck on objects and running into walls, you’ll occasionally find that your bullets randomly stop hitting enemies altogether until you’ve reloaded your last save multiple times, and there are times where you’ll even glitch through the ground and fall to your death. While the quicksave feature helps a lot, and future patches are likely to fix these problems up, it reinforces the notion that the game was pushed out before it was ready.

The Verdict

Rebellion clearly had good intentions. Sniper Elite 3 is far more open-ended, and offers a much wider variety of playstyles than what V2 did. It’s only too bad then that the end product just doesn’t feel competent enough to satisfy its own ambition. It has all the features required to make the ultimate sniping game. But not enough time and effort was given to iron out and polish up each of these features to the levels that would make the game shine. Let’s hope Rebellion take everything they’ve learned so far, and turns the next sequel into what this game was so close to becoming, had it only been in development for a little longer; the benchmark that all future sniping games will be measured against. For its retail price, I can really only recommend it to those with a serious fetish for sniping. At a good discount or with some heavy patches ironing out all the issues, I would have less of a problem recommending it to anyone out for a good time shooting Nazis. Because although it’s not saying much, Sniper Elite 3 is currently the best game entirely devoted to sniping that we’ve gotten so far.

Case Review

  • Lookin’ Good: You won’t be complaining about the graphics, that’s for sure.
  • Where to Go? What to Do? It’s almost dizzying just how large the levels have gotten.
  • Co-Op: Never a bad thing, especially when done as well as this.
  • Multiplayer for the Masses: It’s a $50 game so it “needs” competitive multiplayer, I get it, but couldn’t they at least have made an effort?
  • Get the Ironing Board Out: So many great mechanics; all of which are seriously flawed.
  • Not Deaf but Definitely Dumb: The enemy AI is as inconsistent as it is bad.
Score: 3.5/5
Sniper Elite 3 shoots for the record but falls short of its target by mere inches.


The Sniper Elite series was always a different breed. It tried to be an entertaining action game, just with the safety of sniping distance. The first two titles went through a lot of changes and Sniper Elite V2 managed to capture the attention of a much wider audience than its predecessor. So it’s no surprise that Rebellion decided to stick with and tweak the winning formula.

Sniper Elite 3 is very reminiscent of it older brother, V2, though it’s much prettier, much bigger and much, much more beautiful. The game has been improved on multiple fronts, like moving from linear level designs to more open environments, to an improved, much more detailed X-ray killcam. The game has tried to emulate its predecessor’s strengths, just polishing and adding new features on top. It still has single player, co-op and multiplayer modes which add to the game’s overall value and replayability factor.

With all that said the game is far from perfect. Sniper Elite 3, even though highly improved is still lacking polish, having several noticeable bugs. The multiplayer feels tacked on and co-op, even though it is quite fun, feels like it is missing that special something. Though that doesn’t overshadow the improvements made and an unholy amount of fun that the X-ray killcam provides. If the series continues to head in this direction, then perhaps the perfect Sniper Elite game isn’t that far off anymore.

Score: 4/5


Finally, after two bad zombie games, we get a proper sequel to Sniper Elite V2. Sniper Elite 3 manages to improve on its predecessor in almost every way. The levels themselves are no longer linear, providing you with different ways to approach your target. There is some delay in enemy awareness and they eventually give up on searching for you if they spot you. This allows you to be properly stealthy just so long as you suspend your disbelief and disregard the stupidity of the AI. Loud gunshots no longer tell every enemy where you are, but give you some time to relocate before enemies find you. The new mechanics allow you to play the game in a calm and calculating manner most of the time.

Visually, Sniper Elite 3 looks similarly to its predecessor with some new effectsimproving the overall quality of the graphics. X-Ray camera remains one of the main visual attractions and now you can see bullets rip through the muscles AND the bones of your enemies. The quick save system is nice when you want to get the shots as good as possible, but it is recommended to keep several manual saves as well. Unfortunately, the game is buggy and it leads to weird moments. You may encounter invisible enemies and reloading may revive the enemies you’d killed before saving. There are also enemies stuck in walls and stuck in each other. Usually, the bugs are not gamebreaking, but you will definitely encounter some.

Overall, Sniper Elite 3 is a fun game. Its problematic release state and single player focus mean that it is better to wait and buy it later at a cheaper price. If you enjoyed Sniper Elite V2, then Sniper Elite 3 is worth you having a look as well.

Score: 3.5/5
Comments (5)
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Posts: 596

At least with CoD (I did not pay 60 for Battlefield 4 at launch) you get value for it, in the sense of the many hours most players will put into the MP.

Same with Battlefield, but at a lower price tag (for me in any case).

Posts: 1317

It's not COD/BF tier though. It's a $50 game. BF/COD tier is 60.

Posts: 596

I think they tried to rush it out too fast. I can't even keep track of the Sniper Elite titles anymore now that I am working full-time. Heck, I didn't even know a third one was released yet.

Posts: 1548

The biggest flaw with SE3 is it's price. It aims for CoD/BF4 tier when it should aim for Red Orchestra 2 where it would do great.

Posts: 9

i dont think the zombie games were bad though. They were a bit lacking perhaps and a bit straight forward but not bad. V3 though is a good game i think..gives more options and let you choose a few different play styles which is enjoyable and an welcome to this series...hope they build even more on this for V4