Game Review: Sniper Elite 3 (Xbox One)
In my attempt to break away from wildly popular shooter games (you know what they are), I picked up “Sniper Elite III” to shake things up a bit when it comes to fast-moving shooter action. Not to mention, there just aren’t “that” many games out for Xbox One right now, so my choices were limited. I haven’t played the previous editions of the sniper franchise and it worked out great because I didn’t really need to know about those games coming into part III. Despite the fact that this story took place before “Sniper Elite V2” I didn’t feel I missed out on story and concept. All I really needed to play this fun game was patience. Sometimes I had it; sometimes I didn’t and here is my “Sniper Elite III” story.
The biggest reason I enjoyed this particular tactical shooter is that I had time to plan my attack and decide which approach I was going to take. I could go quiet or I could go loud or both. Mostly, I preferred sneaky and stealthy. I can be a methodical kind of guy, so this aspect of the game pleased me. Because the game took place during WWII in Northern Africa, there were lots of large rocks, hills, and dessert-atmosphere to hide behind; perfect for sniping.
At the beginning of a level, I had my mission orders (usually to kill an officer and find intelligence). As I progressed, side missions popped up such as to destroy communication towers, tanks, or find sniper nests, etc. Once I got set, I had my handy-dandy sniper rifle to scope out my targets. My binoculars helped me with targeting so I could “tag” enemies until I decided to later incapacitate them. Poor guys never knew what was coming. What was nice was they stayed highlighted on my map sort of like thermal imaging; I always knew where they were until they were dead. Once I eliminated my main target(s), the level was over, more of the story unfolded, and I moved on to the next set of targets. It was a pretty simple concept, really. More importantly, it made for a fun game that I could actually put down and come back to later without having to retrace my steps or remember what it was I was supposed to do.
Coolest feature of the game: Watching the bullet fly in slow motion all the way to the target and often “through” the target. As it pierced the flesh, the graphic sequence transitioned from seeing a uniformed soldier to seeing the skeleton and organs on the inside. You get to see where exactly the bullet entered the body and sometimes exited. Points where given depending on where the bullet hit; head shots, lung and heart, and even testicle shots awarded various levels of points to your progress. As the player, you get to watch organs disintegrate and bones shatter; of course there were sound effects to go with it. If you have ever seen CSI (the TV show), they sometimes show this special effect when tracing the path of a bullet. This unique characteristic of the game never really got old. And, in case you are wondering, I did not specifically look for testicle shots. It just happened…a couple of times.
The AI is kind of dumb. They did have the ability to find me and often did as I was trying to lurk about with grace and poise. There was an indicator that turned yellow when I was within sight. If it turned red, they made me and I had to run and hide…or shoot. If I got far enough away, they returned to their posts which is where I thought they were dumb. That would never happen in real life until the secured the scene. That didn’t seem entirely realistic, but for the sake of being a sniper game I guess it had to be that way otherwise I would get made once and run and gun the rest of the level. The AI is where my patience got tested. Sometimes they just didn’t move or didn’t move where I needed them to forcing me to relocate. The game did set me up for success in that if I found a generator I could sabotage it which would then provide background noise to cover me as a fired my weapon. Overhead flying aircraft provided enough noise to cover my shots as well.
In addition to firing away, I was able to use dynamite to blow things up and use trip wire to set booby traps and also plant landmines. I also had a silenced pistol for those intimate kills and to be even more intimate I could incapacitate an enemy with my bare hands. That’s not very sniper-like, but sometimes it was easier to sneak up on someone than shoot them. If I was thorough, and I tried to be, I could find weapon parts on the bodies of my dead to modify my current weapon(s). More often than not, I found extra ammo while searching bodies. Another thing worth mentioning was being able to shoot vehicles, set small fires, or throw rocks to create diversions or attract attention.
Overall, it was a fun experience that lasted me a little over 13 hours on Marksman mode which is “normal.” A game like this allowed me to be patient and think without having to just run and gun, though sometimes my own mistakes forced me to run and gun. The graphics were smooth and the (Xbox One) version was quite stable. The kill cam, though grotesque and violent, was definitely a cool feature. The end sequence of the game left much to be desired, but it was fitting for the scenario.
There is downloadable content for this game and multiplayer co-op is available though I have not tried it.