All three parts of the Save Churchill DLC for Sniper Elite III are now available on consoles (and have been on PC for a few weeks already). The three mission add-on follows up the Hunt the Grey Wolf DLC from a couple of months back, and challenges you to investigate rumours of an elite German sniper team in Africa that are planning an attack on the British Prime Minister at the 1943 Casablanca Conference. Can you fight your way through the squads of enemy soldiers and prevent the assassination?
In Shadows is part one and sees you revisit Siwa from the main Sniper Elite III campaign, though this time at night. The main focus is on stealth and silent movement as you work your way around the town to find information on a rumoured assassination attempt. It’s probably the weakest of the three chapters, mainly because the focus on stealth, whilst being crucial to a sniper game, is contrary to what you want to do with Karl Fairburne under your control. There are precious few opportunities to make discreet shots and relocate without being spotted, and this frustrated me quite a bit as I was continually spotted and attacked with the full force of the garrison stationed there. It also doesn’t let up, throwing you from one confrontation to another, with Karl even quipping about the continued influx of soldiers. It isn’t bad, it just feels like it relies too heavily on the up close and personal combat which you’re never as confident with given your vulnerability.
With Belly of the Beast we’re in more comfortable sniper territory as you infiltrate a mountain fortress where the elite German sniper Ruabvogel and his team are hiding out. Based in the upper part of a valley, this mission opens up to give you more options than you had in Siwa, though there’s still more focus on traps and close quarters fighting than I’d like. The key difference this time though is plenty of sound masking ambient noise meaning you can get a decent perch and pick people off indoors, or setup long range shots out in the open whilst still maintaining cover. Working from one end of the valley to the other, Karl finds he’s missed Ruabvogel, but discovers other secrets the Nazi’s have been working on, and here the game gives you the opportunity to play with some new weapons, and have a crack on a shooting range to prove you’re the best sniper in country. Possibly the shortest of all the chapters, Save Churchill part two is compact and well structured to give you a challenge, and feels more open than the first chapter with a higher degree of freedom for how you complete the mission.
Part three, Confrontation, is by far the stand out mission, not just because it’s the culmination of the mini story, it also has a massive area to play in. Having tracked Ruabvogel and his team to the point where they’re going to ambush Churchill’s convoy, you get to turn the tables on the enemy and take them out before they can start the attack. The playable area is huge – no exaggeration by the Rebellion team here that it’s the biggest environment they’ve created. There are lots of vantage points to make use of, places to camp out and pick off entire squads, and even some good choke points to set up traps. There’s a good variety to the mission as well that has you performing numerous tasks to get yourself in a position to save the Prime Minister, before the level then opens out further so the final sniper duel can play out. Unfortunately, this was a bit anti-climactic as after some brilliantly built tension, the final shoot out was simply point and fire at the target who’s conveniently visible in his ghillie suit on a ridge. A bit of shame really, but the time taken to get to this point (for me at least) was a couple of hours, and I don’t think an extended face-off would have been ideal.
All three missions for Save Churchill together tell a good story that fits straight into the Sniper Elite III world, and all the mechanics you’re used to are there as well, so it’s very much pick up and play if you’ve finished the main campaign. The slow-mo kill shots are still satisfying, the traps come into play more than they did before, the AI is suitably sharp and stupid at the same time, and the collectibles are back as well. I went through all the missions as one instead of waiting for several weeks for them to release as parts (hence the review happening at this later time), and I think this benefitted the experience. Graphically there’s no change to what you’re seeing, the environments for the second two missions look really good, and playing in 3D is surprisingly engrossing too. Audio is what you’d expect from the sound effects and music, though there are occasions where Karl drops out before he’s finished his sentence which jars, but doesn’t affect the experience too much. In fact, the only thing I found really annoying was that you pick your loadout before your mission briefing meaning that sometimes you end up with the wrong kit. There’s plenty lying around in the levels to stock up on, it just means you have to find it first.
Overall there’s a decent amount of game in Save Churchill – probably 5 to 6 hours for one playthrough if you’re being methodical. However, the price seems a bit steep for this. At £6.49 per chapter (nearly £20 in total), it’s on the high side for DLC. It’s worth it if you buy the season pass because you’ll get numerous other goodies on top of the missions, but maybe think carefully if you’re going to buy it in isolation. The expansion is solid and I can’t complain at having more Sniper Elite to play, here’s hoping we end up with more coming our way soon.
All the Sniper Elite III: Save Churchill DLC developed by Rebellion and published by 505 Games is available now on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC, and is part of the Season Pass offered on the respective digital stores.