It's my best shot so far. Right through the eyes of an unsuspecting German soldier, and shown in full sniper-porn-o-vision. Skull shards fly. Grey matter explodes. I thought I was getting bored of Sniper Elite III's exquisitely medical killcam, but that shot was definitely worth watching. I just wish I'd managed to get a screenshot of it.
I'm new to the Sniper Elite series, having not played prior iterations before - even though they sounded right up my alley. For some reason, reviews have just never convinced me to give them a whirl. However, I'm really glad that I'm playing this third outing, now available as Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition that comes complete with nine DLC packs that include extra missions, weapons, maps and modes. It's a lot more fun than I thought it might be. Shooting Nazis in the head is plenty entertaining, but there's a lot more to this game than that.
Playing as Karl Fairburne, an American sniper, the objective is to work through eight levels (in the main campaign) set across numerous locales representing a North African campaign and essentially take on the mighty German Afrika Korps one shot at a time. The action plays out as a third-person action stealth game over a series of very large maps that often have multiple objectives.
The player is pretty much free to tackle missions and sub-objectives as they like, and while there is a certain linearity to the game, there's plenty of room to improvise and experiment – and that's a good thing, because this game isn't always easy. The general way through a level is by sneaking and shooting. Once you shoot, the enemies are alerted to your position, and you essentially need to relocate otherwise they'll track you down and overwhelm you through force. This sets up an interesting cat-and-mouse game that can be tense, yet fun.
As I've already said, there's more to the game than just shooting. You can lay traps and ambush enemies with a variety of different weapons – plus use stealth takedowns if you can get close enough to an enemy to execute one. But do expect to spend the lion's share of your time staring down the scope of your weapon popping off shots at hapless Nazis, clearing the way so that you can move forward to your objective.
The environments are expansive and well designed to offer a variety of cover for both you and your enemy, and picking your way through to your next objective is never a straightforward affair. Sometimes you're flanked by enemies, and that requires some creative clearing of soldiers so you don’t get trapped in the middle of a firefight. This sort of situation is very satisfying to work through, and this is definitely where the game works best, feeling hectic and making you feel pressured – especially when there are few places to hide. You really have to think about your plan of attack, and have contingencies ready if things don't quite turn out the way you expect them to. Which can happen more often than not.
Where the game does begin to run out of steam is in its latter stages - and over its additional campaigns. While the missions are varied and the solutions to problems like stopping tanks and thwarting half-track vehicles aren't always straightforward, the sheer size of the levels and sometimes relentless back and forth in terms of gaining ground and then retreating to relocate so enemies won't find you does wear a little thin. I found I'd essentially snipe a couple of enemies, run away and wait for the AI to calm itself down, and repeat the process by moving forward and looking for my next set of victims. It doesn't feel particularly realistic, but for what is essentially a target shooting game, it's fair enough. It can just feel a little too mechanical at times – almost like you're exploiting the game.
Still, generally speaking the action is fun, and despite the levels sometimes feeling a little too long, you can at least save at key points so that you don't necessarily have to put in the hour or two some levels require to finish them in one sitting.
Despite its occasionally weak AI, and the action becoming somewhat repetitive over the long-term, Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition is still fun to play – especially for those who love long shots. I'm one of those people and I found the action thoroughly satisfying and enjoyable. Sure, it's not the greatest game out there, but it packs a lot of things to do, its action is tense and exciting, and it gives you the opportunity to really test your sniping mettle. It's not for everyone, but those who like the sound of its premise will likely get their money's worth - especially with all the bells and whistles that come with this special edition.
Generally solid. The maps are expansive and offer plenty of great-looking vistas and locales. The kill cam is particularly effective - and grisly.
Atmospheric. The music is a little generic, but the effects are good. You can navigate by listening to enemy voices.
Well designed on the whole.
The single-player campaign offers about 10 or so hours of entertainment, and then there's the extra missions and multiplayer mode to keep you challenged.
An entertaining and challenging sniping/stealth game that holds up for most of its eight expansive levels and supplemental campaigns. The action can get a little repetitive at times, but it's still a lot of fun, and its kill cam offers some great moments.