Rebellion Developments is just one of those studios. A lot of the time they get things wrong but once in a while they produce a little gem that is worthy of your time. I saw this with Sniper Elite V2 which was a remake/sequel to Sniper Elite. For the most part Sniper Elite V2 was a refreshing take on the shooting genre and despite some glaring issues; I had a lot of fun. This is something that can’t be said with Sniper Elite 3 which is an unpolished, step back by Rebellion.
From the get go you know you're about to play a mediocre game. Sniper Elite 3 takes place in sunny North Africa during WW2; where you play as the ever charismatic OSS sniper Karl Fairburne. As soon as you step out onto the killing field you are confronted with blind enemy that follow strict routine and show no sense of unpredictability. The enemy field of view is way too short for a game of this nature, often I found myself standing 40 or 50 metres in front on the enemy but they seemed oblivious to my location. Saying this game has AI would be too kind. When I mentioned there is no unpredictability with the enemy, I mean they either stand around (often, conveniently, with their back to you) or they patrol a small area waiting to get shot. When things do hit the fan the enemy, quite rightly, get into cover but the enemy never co-ordinate a meaningful attack. It is very much shoot for a bit and then get behind the cover they initially started with. This makes the whole “attacking” mode of the enemy a sarcastic joke. It doesn’t get any better when the enemy notice their dead comrades. The enemy become alert when they see a dead enemy but this alertness passes with time. This is of course a normal reaction to have during the middle of a flipping world war. This is something that should raise the alarm for the whole base. A man with a bullet hole in his face isn’t a normal phenomenon to encounter.
The general gameplay environment doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a third person sniper. The general story is that Karl is tasked with finding out what the Nazi’s are mysteriously developing. This story is rather basic and poorly executed (partly due to Karl being the one of three actual characters with all of them having as much personality as a sand bag). But I digress, the level design make far more sense for a fast paced third person shooter than a slow paced sniper em up. Firstly, the bases (or levels) are littered with enemies doing absolutely nothing. This doesn’t exactly feel realistic since there are no enemy protecting the exterior of these bases. Secondly, there isn’t much scope to these levels. I am an advocate for liner based games but it has to suit the genre. For a sniper game limited scope instantly puts your skill set at a disadvantage. Sniper V2 had this issue as well which makes this more irritating to see it in the sequel. In Sniper Elite 3 I often found myself using my pistol trying to sneak past enemies to reach certain objectives. I get it Karl is a “lone wolf” but why make him a sniper. I did very little killing with my rifle as my stats showed I did more with my side arm or silent takedowns. This wouldn’t be so bad if the stealth mechanic was good but, sadly, it is undeveloped and not well thought out. It is a shame since there are some good ideas. Most noticeably is the last known position mechanic. It gives you a chance to relocate and keep the enemy guessing. But this is let down by the poor line of sight and the lack of intelligence from the enemy.
But none of these issues compare to the lack of polish this game has received. The impact of releasing this game on the last generation system clearly has had an influence of its graphics. The graphics are rough at times and should be a lot better. The character models aren’t exactly varied or highly detailed either. Though the vistas are beautiful to look at which makes them seem out of place since the playable environment isn’t as good looking. Graphics aside the numerous bugs spoil an already spoiled game. Clipping is a major issue in this game. Too many times have a shot someone with my rifle poking through a bit of cover. I have also seen enemies fall through the environment of which I found hilarious. This was until I found myself in the same predicament (I can only imagine how pissed off I would have been if this happened to me on the authentic difficulty which, I must add, has no checkpoints). The biggest bug isn’t related to the single player campaign but to the match making system (or lack of one). I felt like I was in the early days of the PS3 where I couldn’t connect to a match without the server “timing out”. This isn’t 2006 Rebellion; the PSN has been up for around for about seven to eight years. I should have no issues trying to connect to a match. The campaign and multiplayer suffer from frame rate drops and these aren’t small drops. The game struggles to keep up with itself and it really hinders your ability to play the game.
This review isn’t a rant about how much Rebellion got wrong because they got some things right. The bullet cam is back and this time it looks more brutal than ever. Each shot packs a huge punch and really shows off the work Rebellion have put into the human anatomy (of which is extremely detailed). Due to this increased detail, the level of gore has, obviously, increased. At first I thought it was overkill but it really complimented the sniper rifles; giving the feeling of a damaging punch (as well as the devastating sound). The shooting mechanic is extremely well designed. Bullet drop, wind, muzzle wobble all make a significant appearance. You can also improve your weapon through the customisation option. You can obtain parts through levelling up or through exploration (of which the latter seems more prevalent).
I mentioned before that the matchmaking is a disaster but I do encourage any buyers to hold in there because the multiplayer is actually quiet fun. The competitive mode may feel slow but it’s extremely addictive. It is incredibly stressful trying to find another player on the map before they find you but it kept me coming back for more. The map design is not too bad with its high vantage points and ample amount of cover. That said there isn’t a huge amount of maps to play around with (so you may find yourself getting bored of them after a while). The other multiplayer modes are also worth a try. The co-op campaign is really the best way to play the game , it is just a shame getting into a game is quite difficult.
Overall, this game has huge issue that can’t be overlooked. I really enjoyed Sniper Elite V2 (I gave it an 8/10) but Sniper Elite 3 feels like such a step back. The overall package feels like a launch game from 2006 (with its connectivity issues and lack of polish). Also the enemy AI design is a joke. You can put the difficulty up to make them more challenging but that doesn't change the ineptitude. The custom difficulty is a must for anyone who buys this game but if I was to be honest I regret buying this game. In its current state I can’t recommend the game to anyone, if the glaring performance issues are patched I would still think twice before buying this game.