I was trying to keep an open mind heading into Sniper Elite III after experiencing Sniper Elite V2 and not even finishing the entire game because I found it too problematic. Sniper Elite III looked promising and with a first glance it appeared to fix many of the problems that held Elite V2 down. Sadly, that isn’t entirely the case. Sniper Elite III has certainly improved over its predecessor, but it still is a little off target.

The setting was a breather from the usual European Theater that video games tend to take place in. Not many World War II games are set in the Northern Africa Campaign, but don’t expect any historically significant scenarios. The graphics for the main character were good enough, but everything else was sub par. There were a few moments I stopped to overlook the level, and it looked good from far away. It’s when you get up close and move throughout the level that nothing really stands out as impressive. The graphics weren’t bad enough to distract from the game, but there are last gen games with better graphics.

sniper elite 3 Karl main character ps4 gameplay

You are placed in the boots of Karl Fairburne, a skilled sniper that’s a rough talking, gruff-voiced, no nonsense, gritty American…not exactly reinventing the protagonist. Then again, I don’t believe anyone was looking for an original, riveting story for Sniper Elite III, because you certainly won’t find one here. Karl discovers the Nazis are working on some type of super weapon, and he is tasked with figuring out what it is. The story gives you a reason to go around and shoot everyone, so who’s really complaining?

That’s why Sniper Elite has become a recognized name in the industry after all. You get to shoot people in slow-motion and watch as their bones shatter and guts explode. That’s the main draw to this game, and to be fair, that part is extremely well done. There is a sickening enjoyment to watching your bullet sail across the map with powerful sound effects intensifying. Moments before your bullet slams into an enemy time slows down, the man’s skeleton becomes visible, and you watch your bullet plunge inwards exploding anything in its path. For the first few minutes that is. It didn’t take long for that mechanic to grow old. I would skip the slow motion to keep the game moving. Every so often when I made a particularly nice shot I would reward myself with watching the slow-mo replay of my bullet traveling.

The other main draw is the point system in place throughout the game. Getting head-shots, stealth kills, double kills, etc. rewards you with more experience and as you level up you receive more weapons, tools, and modifications to those weapons. The real fun found in Elite 3 is not only making it through the level, but doing it with the highest score.

sniper elite 3 eye shot gameplay

Guess Where This One’s Going

The biggest difference between this title and its predecessor is the ability to choose how you want to complete the level. Each level starts out with one main objective, but smaller optional objectives are added as your progress through the level. You are not forced down any linear path and have the ability to explore the whole level from the start. This gives freedom to the player on whether they want to quietly sneak through the level, go loud fighting everyone they see, or a mixture of both. This mechanic felt great at certain moments. One instance I had to enter into a fortress and I was thinking about how I would get through the main gate, but decided I should see if there was another way in. There was of course, and it put me in a better position.

The downside to this is how the levels are designed. Sure, I can do whatever I want to accomplish the mission, but I won’t. Why would I shoot from behind this rock so everyone will know where I am, when there is a giant tower perfectly positioned in the middle of the map? It also happens to be broadcasting announcements which will mask my shots if I time them properly. Naturally I am going to head over to the tower. You may have the ability to go about the level how you want, but where the helpful objects are placed will force you to traverse the level in a similar fashion multiple times.

Admittedly, that is entirely up to you, because there were times when I could have easily used noise machines to mask the sounds of my shots, but I grew tired of waiting. I found a good position and opened fire. I took down a lot of enemies in one go, and the rest were easy pickings. You can also shoot and then relocate so they won’t know where to look when you take your second shot. This tactic works great for flanking enemies and leading them to a position that you may have laid down dynamite that you could then shoot from your new position. Elite III is one of those games that varies in fun based off how you want to play the game. Play through the levels only using your rifle and things will get boring, but if you use some creative traps at your disposal the game suddenly feels far more rewarding.

sniper elite 3 close combat gameplay on ps4

The main annoyance I had with the campaign is how everything was solved with shooting something. There was no creativity incorporated into the main missions. You had to go to a location and then shoot either a person, exploding barrel, or a tank. Even when you needed to take out artillery weapons, there was also a barrel sitting right next to them, and I never knew a tank was so vulnerable to sniper fire. The tank A.I. was pathetically sad making any battle with them comical. You can run around the tank in circles until you get to its rear and then land a bullet in the weak joint. It can’t hit you or do anything. You can also shoot them with a rocket, and they never reacted when I hit them. Coincidence? Maybe, I really don’t know. I only know tank battles were never exciting or nerve-racking. They were just annoying, and the game continues to throw them at you as if they’re tough bosses.

After I dealing with all the tanks and finishing the five-hour campaign, I looked for what else Sniper Elite III had to offer. There is a survival mode where you attempt to fight off waves of enemies. This is a good challenging mode that I can see myself spending a great deal of time on. Then there is your more traditional multiplayer mode. The obvious twist is everyone is a sniper. You might assume this means everyone stays still and doesn’t move the whole game. You would be correct. After having the server crash on me multiple times, kick me to my home screen, and losing the connection more times than I can count. I finally was able to get into a match. It was team death match and it was beyond boring. I openly ran around after a few minutes to try and stir up some trouble. I was an open target in a sniper battle, I should have tied dozens of times, but I only died twice. Not very exciting. The team balancing didn’t work either. People were constantly connecting and disconnecting to make it even worse.

The only entertaining mode was Death Match and Distance King, because without teams, there were enough enemies were you would actually have to fight people. It was fun getting into sniper battles across the map, but there were other problems that still weighed the game down. Spawning was problematic, and all the good sniping spots people learned about almost instantly. It only took me a few matches to learn where to look, and I was always able to find someone. This mode was far better than the other team based ones, but it still grew old far too quickly.

sniper elite 3 bullet ballistics gameplay ps4

Elite 3 starts to lose its fun when all the problems surface. The A.I. is completely sporadic. Sometimes the A.I. acts how they should and other times they do things that don’t make any sense at all. I’ve seen them run and stare into a corner of a room, I’ve seen them shoot the ground in front of them, and I have even seen them watch a tank explode only to say “did you hear something?” After ten seconds of checking it out they decided it isn’t anything serious and then walk away…through the tank debris. I couldn’t predict any of the enemy movements because I didn’t know what they would do. I could shoot one enemy, and watch two people hide behind cover, but everyone else continued on as if nothing happened.

The amount of bugs doesn’t help the situation either. There were countless times when I was seen where it was physically impossible; for example, when I was inside a building and someone outside spotted me (no there wasn’t a window either). I was shot through rocks. Enemies’ weapons wouldn’t be visible, but they could still hit me somehow. I shot a person and watched their dead body rag-doll upwards to land on a roof. Enemies magically seemed to know when I was aiming at them, and other times I would stand right in front of them and they wouldn’t see me. I witnessed men appear out of nowhere and I managed to get caught in more invisible walls than there were actual walls.Then there were the small things to distract even more like floating rocks, floating dead bodies, and even floating heads with no bodies.

Elite III feels rushed and there are enough bugs to make the game feel unfinished. I had the game crash on me multiple times forcing me back to my home screen. There were times when the mission wouldn’t advance and there was nothing to do but restart my check point and pray it would work this time. They became so annoying I actually rage-quit and turned my system off. No one wants to replay a level or even a checkpoint due to a bug. And word to the wise, manually save often, because there auto-save feature is questionable at best.

sniper elite 3 africa setting ps4 gameplay

Sniper Elite III is definitely an improvement over Sniper V2. It still felt repetitive at times, but there are enough decisions in each level to make your own enjoyment. The main draw of ballistic bullets were satisfying, but even that grew old. All the other gun-play was sub par and nothing felt as great as shooting your rifle. I believe that’s the point, but it makes a lot of the game feel like a chore as you are trying to get back to the good sniping. The survival mode is entertaining if you’re into fighting of waves of enemies, and the multiplayer is a good attempt, but it isn’t enough where I can see the lobbies being filled for long. There is online co-op for many aspects of the game, but no match making system so you need to have friends with this game to be able to play. Sniper Elite III is a big improvement, and the series is getting there. If there is a Sniper Elite 4 I believe that will be a great game, but as it stands now, Sniper Elite III is a little off its mark.

This review is based off a review copy of the Playstation 4 version of Sniper Elite III developed by Rebellion Oxford and provided by 505 Games. 

A Little Off Target | Sniper Elite III Review
Overall Score6.5
  • The Bullet Ballistics Were Entertaining
  • Open Levels Allow Multiple Options
  • Sniping Is Satisfying
  • Many Technical Issues
  • Unpredictable, Idiotic A.I.
  • Gameplay Is Not Diverse Enough
6.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

About The Author

Neil has had a passion for video games ever since the Atari entered his life so many years ago. He's been writing about them for over two years and sees no end in sight. Reach out to him on twitter @nconnors13