Sniper Elite 3 Review (PC)

good
key review info
  • Game: Sniper Elite 3
  • Platform: PC
  • Gamepad support: Yes  
  • Reviewed on:
  • Written by: Andrei Dobra
  • Show system requirements
Sniper Elite 3 review on PC

The Sniper Elite franchise has had a rocky start but, with the adventure of the pretty decent Sniper Elite V2 and the campy yet fun Nazi Zombie Army spinoffs, the series made by Rebellion is looking to establish itself as an important niche first-person shooter catering to those who like to plan their firefights instead of going in guns-blazing.

Sniper Elite 3 takes the action to the African front, while retaining the World War 2 setting. Players take control once again of Karl Fairburne, showing off a new portion of his adventures set between 1 and 2. Players must navigate the harsh environments and try to sabotage the plans of the Axis armies in the northern part of Africa. Expect to shoot quite a lot of Nazis, not to mention a few Italians, along the way.

Does Sniper Elite 3 have what it takes to deliver a fun experience or should the Nazi Zombie Army make a comeback? Let's find out.

Story

Players once again follow the adventures of Karl Fairburne, an American sniper who, after a pretty great performance in the tutorial mission, is tasked by the Allied forces with going deep behind enemy lines in order to disrupt the Axis plans in Northern Africa.

What follows is a not so engaging story largely due to the simplicity of the missions that make players infiltrate different enemy camps, steal information, plant bombs, or cause other types of disruptions, and then escape.

The protagonist isn't fleshed out at all and, due to the lone wolf nature of snipers, he barely gets to interact with other characters. Lots of historical events and locations are name-checked but the game doesn't offer any other details or background info about them.

As such, don't expect to be blown away by the plot of Sniper Elite 3, as it's mostly on par with those from previous installments.
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Play as Karl Fairburne ...
... and use your arsenal

Gameplay

While the missions in Sniper Elite 3 may not be filled with story elements, they represent a great improvement over previous entries in the series. Instead of linear environments and corridors through bombed out cities, you're now tasked with completing missions in wide open areas in Africa.

What's more, the way in which you reach your goals is completely up to the player. You can steal information by sniping Axis generals from hundreds of meters away or you can go in with your silenced pistol and attempt cover takedowns.

The level design is much more open, encouraging players to explore the level and take note of enemy behavior, patrol patterns, and other such things. The presence of collectibles and hidden treasures should prove great incentives to keep rummaging about.

Each of the main eight missions contains different bonus objectives, such as blowing trucks, and adds to your XP score. However, they're not mandatory and you can focus just on completing the main objectives as fast as possible.

In terms of actual shooting, Sniper Elite 3 doesn't mess all that much with the formula that made its predecessors so powerful. The main emphasis is, of course, on using the sniper rifle, and this time around holding your breath also produces a small red rectangle showing where the bullet will hit the target, after taking into consideration wind, distance, and other such things.

Of course, purists can once again turn off all assists so that they feel like they're real snipers. However, the lack of a training area or shooting gallery, so that you come to grips with your sniper rifles, is going to mean lots of trial and error.

You can also use a sub-machine gun and a pistol to take out foes, but they're not that powerful or at least not that accurate. In case things get really hectic, you can use explosives and grenades to take out groups of foes.

The trademark killcam system is once again present, showing off kills in all their gory glory, particularly when your bullets hit the heads or vital organs of your enemies. However, if you play for extended periods of time, you might want to turn them off as they get a bit tedious, even if their violence is still enjoyable.

There are a few new mechanics at play with Sniper Elite 3, such as special noise distractions caused by generators, large engines, mortar fire, or even passing planes. These can mask your sniper shots and make disposing of foes undetected much easier.

The stealth system in Sniper Elite 3 has been somewhat refined, as now it has a big focus on relocation in case you get spotted. Enemy soldiers will converge on your last known location and, if you manage to sneak away to a certain distance, they'll just go back to their regular patrol routes.

AI in general isn't that sharp and player detection is erratic, to say the least. Often soldiers would spot me while I was behind cover and at quite a distance, while other times they'd ignore me even if I was sprinting near their location.

Another rather annoying problem is that enemy chatter can be heard from quite far away. This means that you might think an enemy is right near you but they're actually much further away.

Sniper Elite 3 allows players to save anywhere and at any point in time, in addition to the checkpoints, so don't worry about messing up, as you can easily go back to load a save and once again try your luck or a different strategy.


Multiplayer

Sniper Elite 3's multiplayer includes both a cooperative mode, as you can work alongside a friend to complete the story experience, but also a competitive one.

The co-op is pretty fun and serves to disperse some of the boredom that you might feel when going through the main missions, but the lack of a matchmaking system means you need to manually find and add people to play with.

The competitive experience features some rather standard shooter game types but there are a few interesting ones like the No Cross one, which erects a barrier between the two teams, meaning you must snipe enemies from afar instead of trying to go in for brawls in close quarters.

There are plenty of things to modify when creating a match, which means that those looking for custom experiences will certainly find them here. However, it also means that it can be hard to find or populate a server with specific restrictions and rules.
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Aim carefully ...
... and admire brutal killcams

Visuals and Sound

Sniper Elite 3 takes place in the harsh environment of Northern Africa and this means a pretty novel color palette dominated not just by brown but also by yellow, green, or sometimes blue when reaching different oasis areas. The animations on some enemies are a bit stiff and, while the textures look relatively good, there is a fair bit of pop-in when zooming into new areas with your sniper or binoculars.

The soundtrack is relatively good but doesn't stand out all that much. Voice acting is certainly varied, with enemies talking in German or Italian, but protagonist Karl Fairburne retains his somewhat boring, rough voice.
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Spot enemies ...
... and take them out silently

The Good

  • More open maps
  • Possibility to hide bodies
  • Interesting noise distractions

The Bad

  • Stealth system is erratic
  • Dumb AI in many cases
  • Lackluster story and soundtrack

Conclusion

Sniper Elite 3 is a relatively fun niche shooter experience that improves some of the faults seen in its predecessors, particularly in regards to mission design and the open nature of levels. It's still weighed down by bugs, erratic AI, and a shoddy story, but it will certainly entertain fans of the franchise and those looking for a thinking man's shooter experience.

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story 5
gameplay 7
concept 7
graphics 7
audio 6
multiplayer 8
final rating 7
Editor's review
good
 

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