Sniper Elite III Afrika is nothing like the average run-of-the-mill shooters that have flooded the market in recent years. With its immersive, realistic bullet ballistics and entertainingly deep multiplayer, Sniper Elite III is a welcome addition to the franchise, and helps to define the sniping genre as a whole. Scope out our video review below, or continue reading for the long (shot) version.
Whether we are playing with the bullet time mechanics of Max Payne, or carefully selecting each body part we want to target it Fallout 3, gamers of all sorts have a deep addiction to watching the bullets slowly approach and then dispatch their targets. There is this uncanny feeling of pleasure and accomplishment as we watch the well timed shot meet its target. Sniper Elite ups the bar even farther and gives players a unique slow-motion X-ray view of the bullet trajectory as it passes through the host. Although the gruesome and violent nature of this death showcase can make some queasy, any guilt that may be felt is quickly alleviated when you realize that these are just digital representations of Nazis.
Sniper Elite III drops you right into the desert sands of a WWII riddled Africa and quickly engages the player in the life of a sniper. Like most every game you are guided along the story with set objectives such as “go here” and “kill that”. The linear and closed levels of Sniper Elite V2 are nowhere to be found and the world has been made incredibly open. These levels are still closed, but the immensely large options that are open to complete the objective at hand really help to make the game feel varied. Stealth plays a big role as a sniper. The old saying holds ever true:
A sniper should never shoot twice from the same position.
You may get lucky with a well placed shot and no one knows where you are, but if you are brave enough to follow up with a second, you place yourself at great risk of being spotted. Sniper Elite III encourages players to live by this maxim and to relocate yourself whenever the enemy is onto you. When players are alerted to you they will actively begin searching in the area you were last seen. The game will leave a silhouetted image of yourself where you were last seen which gives you a tactical advantage for flanking and sneaking past enemies.
As far as your armory goes, as a sniper you are always equipped with your trusty rifle. Whether that rifle be your semi-auto Gewehr 43 or your bolt action Mosin Nagant, you have a choice in what you pick. Each weapon and their available alterations such as muzzle and scope, and even their ammo types, all play a role in how you want to play. If you are not a very good shot and want the option of rapid, in succession shots, then a semi auto may be your best bet. Confident in your weapon handling? Want something that will kill with the first shot? Then pick a powerful bolt action with output enhancing features, and you will have yourself a wonderful companion.
The thing that keeps Sniper Elite III from being another glorified and sadistic bullet gallery is its choice of combat options. With the inclusion of traps and trip mines the game becomes very customizable in any situation. If you have alerted the enemy to your presence you can quickly place a trip mine at your feet and then retreat to a safe spot. It is highly likely that the enemy who is searching in your last known location will find your hidden surprise. If there are too many enemies guarding a position you want to get to you can sneak up to a gasoline barrel and place some flint and steel. The slow smolder of the flint may attract the attention of nearby foes and when they come to investigate, may just blow up if the fire was close enough to detonate the gas barrel.
Besides your main sniper rifle which is deliberately the best weapon in any combat situation, you also have machine guns and pistols at your disposal. Having the Welrod, a silenced, single shot pistol at your side is a valuable asset for stealth play. That is assuming you don’t prefer to sneak up behind enemies and take then out with a melee kill. The other weapons when compared to your sniper rifle feel incredibly inaccurate and weak. I have never shot a German MP40 in real life, but in Sniper Elite it is way less lethal than in Call of Duty 2, for example. It’s good to keep in mind that this is ultimately a sniping game, so the focus on your rifle is the main drive. Other combat options are available such as throwing rocks or sabotaging a generator to distract enemies.
The layers of features that are present add much to the gameplay experience. Optional objectives will become available when you explore a section of the map. Finding one of the many collectibles such as sniper nests open up a new spot for you to shoot at an advantage that may have otherwise been inaccessible to you. Everything you do in Sniper Elite earns you experience and rank. As you increase in ranking you unlock access to new game changing features such as more powerful weapons. New weapon attachments and reticule shape and size also become unlocked which really help players customize their perfect weapon. The leveling up element of the game is persistent whether you are playing the campaign, co-op or competitive multiplayer. This is a genius idea that will help encourage players to play some of the game before just hopping online. If you play some campaign you will have unlocked some new weapons that will be very beneficial in the competitive arena.
As a gamer, I personally find campaigns to be the main reason to play a game. Most multiplayer games, even if done well, are something I may only try once and then never return to. Sniper Elite has nailed the competitive multiplayer and created what I find to be a substantial portion of the game. You of course have the standard game modes like Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch, but the stand out mode for me was No Cross. The maps in Sniper Elite III are very large so the premise of No Cross splits two teams up and pitches them against each other on different sides of the map. Players have no chance of sneaking up on others. The main goal of this mode is to pitch skill versus skill, sniper vs. sniper. The game of cat and mouse that ensues in thrilling. Especially early on, players were few and when you had 3v3 games, trying to find an enemy that is hiding behind cover all while trying to keep your scope flash hidden becomes truly challenging. Quite often I would see an enemy player, I would quickly hold my breath and steady the shot, and a mili-second before I pull the trigger, the other player beat me to it and won.
The folks at Rebellion have nailed what it feels like to be a sniper, especially in the multiplayer when you can battle head to head. I should mention that this is a third person shooter. Taking cover is smooth and peering around corners with the camera is essential to spotting approaching enemies, but a majority of your time will probably be looking down your scope or binoculars in first person. In addition to the competitive multiplayer, you can also team up with a friend to play a Survival mode, an Overwatch (spotter and sniper) mode. Also, players can play through the entire story coop, so if playing with others is your thing, this game gives you more of what you want.
Sniper Elite III is an excellent game that is perfect for anyone who loves the genre to play solo or with others. The range of combat choices make this more than just a shooting gallery and add skill and depth to the experience. While the A.I is not always the smartest, I felt that it is still a solid third person shooter that should be played by anyone who craves accomplishment from their well-placed shots.
A review copy of Sniper Elite III Afrika for PlayStation 4 was provided by the 505 Games PR team.