by Matt Porter
previewed on PC
I didn’t even know there was anything beneath Waterloo Station. But it was in ‘The Vaults’ with trains continually rattling overhead that I was introduced to Sniper Elite 3, the latest instalment in Rebellion’s third person shooter franchise. In this World War 2-esque bunker we were transported to wartime North Africa where we were tasked with helping the war effort as Karl Fairburne, a British special forces sniper.
There aren’t many sniping games out there, but there may be some misconceptions about what Sniper Elite is. It isn’t solely about shooting from afar, in fact all manner of weapons are available, and you often have to get up close and personal in the grisly business of killing. Fans of the series were concerned with Sniper Elite v2 and its linear corridors. The developers have listened and this time the levels have been opened up, with multiple paths and different ways to complete your objectives in maps that are three times bigger than before.
Gun porn and dude shooting
Before entering the level, you can customise your loadout and inspect the lay of the land. The options available to you are pretty standard for a shooter, but it’s in the rifle customisation that things start to get deep. You can choose from different scopes, barrels, stocks and even change the action. It doesn’t stop there, as there are dozens of crosshairs to select. Fans of WW2 era rifles need not look anywhere else for their fix of gun porn.
The game takes place across various real world locations, and for the most part you will be taking out specific targets, whether they be people, artillery, or even tanks. As you progress through each mission, you might be tasked with secondary objectives such as blowing up some vehicles to disrupt a supply line. Most of the time you will be doing some good old fashioned ‘dude shooting’ though. This time the AI has been improved, and there can be more than 30 computer controlled guys wandering around a level at once, so you will have to be even more careful than in the past.
It’s all about adaptation and relocation. The AI can single out your location based on your shots, and they even notice dead bodies and stay away from those areas to avoid the same fate. They will eventually come round and start flanking you if you stay in one place too long. Sniper Elite 3 has a mechanic in place to allow for relocation, meaning you are given a bonus for choosing a new place to set up shop for a while. Good players will be able to lead the AI around the level on a wild goose chase, picking them off one at a time. Even better players will be able to complete missions without the enemy even realising they were there.
Stealth options are there, with silenced weapons, close combat kills and various other techniques available to those who don’t want to be heard. For example, kicking a generator will cause it to start coughing and spluttering, masking the sound of your rifle shots. Artillery fire or planes flying low overhead have the same effect. This methodical approach to the levels slows the action down, but it’s even more rewarding when you pull it off.
Goofy, horrifying, satisfying
The game looks great, but it’s in the part disgusting, part hilarious kill cams where the visuals really shine. A kill shot with your rifle slows the action down and the camera zooms in on your bullet travelling across the level. As it enters your target you will see bones and organs being ripped apart in x-ray vision. It’s goofy, horrifying, but also pretty satisfying. The same happens for vehicles. Hit a weak spot and you will see the bullet ricochet around inside the engine’s guts as it rips apart the innards, exploding the vehicle.
There’s a full co-op campaign for snipers who want to bring a friend, bringing a whole new dynamic to each mission. In addition, at launch there will be five, 12 player multiplayer maps. This time around some of the maps have been designed with “no cross” in mind, meaning players will always be separate from the enemy team. These maps simply reward good shooting, and you won’t have to worry about what’s coming up behind you. On top of the multiplayer there’s a horde mode style mode where you have to survive waves of enemies. There’s also a “Hunt the Grey Wolf” mode, where you will have to hunt down and kill Hitler himself, bearing in mind the disguises and body doubles he employed during the war.
Robust third person shooter
Sniper Elite 3 will be out on June 27 in Europe, and a few days later in the US on July 1. Rebellion has listened to its fans, and looks to have made a robust third person shooter here. Plenty of game modes, new mechanics and lots for gun nuts to look forward to. Keep this one in your sights.