Sniper Elite III PS4 Review
Publisher: 505 Games Developer: Rebellion Genre: Stealth Players: 1-12 Age Rating: 18+
Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3
With how popular sniping is, it’s really surprising how few games there is based around killing from afar. Still, when it comes to military shooters, it’s the Call of Duty mould that most developers seem to strive for, which makes series’ like Sniper Elite all the more welcome, as it’s a series that still manages to feel fresh.
Like the previous games in the series, Sniper Elite III takes World War II as its stage. You once again take control of OSS sniper Karl Fairburne but this time in a prequel story, and this time he’s in Africa and discovers that the Germans are building a super weapon. With poor characterisation and a very simple storyline, Sniper Elite III’s plot is definitely not its strong point.
Luckily, the game itself is a lot stronger than the story it tells. Sniper Elite III is once again a thinking man’s shooter, although this time around it takes place in eight expansive environments. Along with your authentic World War II sniper rifles, you have period silenced pistols, machine guns and rocket launchers, of which will all prove to be useful tools. You are also encouraged to survey the environment with your binoculars, and tag enemies to keep tabs on their location.
The game is designed in a way which allows you to tackle objectives in the order you desire. Indeed, you get your main objectives as well as optional objectives that you might stumble across. Each level is truly massive in size and gives you plenty of room to play the game in the way that you want to play it.
A stealthy approach is definitely recommended as going loud with such a quickly depleted health bar is often suicide. As none of your rifles are equipped with silencers, this does mean that your rifle has rather limited use during many of the moments in which you’d prefer to play stealthily. Luckily, you are able to mask the booming sound of your rifle shots by making resourceful use of some of the sounds in the environment. Handily, an icon appears on the screen to let you know when it’s safe to take the shot, and then you have to be quick on the trigger, making for some tense situations when Spitfires are flying over and whatnot. As the levels are so open, it’s even possible to find things such as generators and then give them a good kick to cause them to malfunction, giving you a sound to mask your shots.
The difficulty of the sniping is based on the difficulty level that you select, with the sniping becoming more realistic with each higher difficulty level. Pressing a button will also steady your aim, with a diamond symbol appearing on the screen to show exactly where your shots are going to land. As you have to take your heartbeat into consideration when using this feature, it’s encouraged that you don’t run around too much if you don’t want to sit around waiting for your heart rate to lower.
The sniping is also somewhat enhanced by the oddly amusing violence, which sees the camera following the path of the bullet into your victims. Like Sniper Elite II, there’s even an X-ray view as your bullet enters the enemy body, showing bone disintegrate and major organs ripped through. If it starts becoming old, this “Bullet Cam” is completely skippable, or it can be made less frequent or even turned off entirely.
One of Sniper Elite III’s biggest flaws is definitely the inconsistent AI, which is certainly lacking in polish. When another enemy discovers a dead comrade for example, if he doesn’t see you, then he’ll soon be back on his normal patrol route after only investigating for a little bit, and you really would expect all the enemies to be on full alert after such a discovery is made. The enemy AI really isn’t menacing enough.
Visually, while not the most amazing looking next generation game, the PS4 version of Sniper Elite III is still attractive enough, with detailed environments and character models. The lighting is also very nice, and the game runs smoothly 99% of the time, and in 60fps and full 1080p.
When it comes to multiplayer, the focus on sniping does make this feel different from many other games. There’s even modes based entirely around the sniping, which includes Distance King and No Cross. Distance King has you earning extra points for long distant kills, and it’s always satisfying to be told that you have just scored the longest shot. No Cross, on the other hand, separates two teams of players, meaning you have a perimeter each, and then you have to search for targets with your binoculars and rifle to kill. Thankfully, the multiplayer is also a lot more stable now than it was when the game was originally released.
The Overwatch cooperative mode from Sniper Elite v2 makes its return, which once again has one player sniping and the other player being the spotter, and the entire campaign can also be played with another player. The much more open levels of the campaign make co-op all the more worthwhile in comparison to being more closed in in the corridor-like levels of the second game.
Inconsistent AI and poor story aside, Sniper Elite III is definitely an improvement over the second game in the series. When it comes to the campaign, the much more open levels and the African setting make for a much more interesting game, and the multiplayer is certainly fun when it works. Sniper Elite III could be the seeds being planted for something truly special for the series in the future, and perhaps Rebellion will deliver that very special game with the next game in the series.