Sniper Elite III: Ultimate Edition from Rebellion Developments and 505 Games is an unusual package. Unlike many “Game of the Year” editions of games, this one is actually offered at a discount. Something of a niche game, Sniper Elite III was originally released in 2014. The other oddity about this Ultimate Edition is that it doesn’t include all of the available downloadable content, which can cause some confusion in the main menu and add-ons screens. I guess it shouldn’t be that surprising, considering the strange chronology of the entire Sniper Elite series.
The original Sniper Elite game, released in 2005, follows the exploits of a master World War II sniper, Karl Fairburne, on an end-of-the-war mission in Berlin. Seven years later, the game was rebooted for the next generation of consoles as Sniper Elite V2. The third game, Sniper Elite III, it is actually a prequel to the first two, following the same protagonist during a North African campaign earlier in World War II. Considering how much time the series has spent with this sniper, there is very little narrative available to flesh out his character.
If you’re looking for comparisons, Sniper Elite III is probably most similar to the core Metal Gear Solid and early Splinter Cell games. Playing as the skilled but somewhat generic Fairburne, you are equipped with standard military weapons and equipment in addition to your sniper rifle. Unlike other stealth games, though, there isn’t really a penalty for forgoing stealth. Things will get more difficult, but there is no automatic fail when you’re spotted by an enemy. Of course, none of the stealth mechanics works quite as well as they do in the aforementioned games, either.
The stealth mechanics in Sniper Elite III aren’t all terrible, with the last position ghost image and enemy detection meters working pretty well. It’s just that what the game considers hidden isn’t entirely clear. Along with that, the silent takedown maneuver has a lengthy delay and seems to be a bit touchy with what it considers the right position to execute the move. The actual sniping also occasionally presents similar problems too. There’s nothing more frustrating than lining up a perfect shot, pulling the trigger, and have nothing happen.
Sniping is obviously what the Sniper Elite games are all about, and those looking for sharpshooter realism will find it in Sniper Elite III. The difficulty settings not only control the prowess of your enemies, but also allow players to customize the level of bullet trajectory realism to an unprecedented level, from no physical effects, to increased scope movement, the dropping effect of gravity, and windage. The in-game tactical assists, like mini-maps, can also be toggled. More than one undisguised shot will also alert enemies to your location.
Sniper Elite III: Ultimate Edition contains the original 2014 game along with most of the available DLC. It includes three additional single-player missions, most significantly “Save Churchill,” and six of the weapon packs. Sniper Elite III has also been expanded in the Ultimate Edition to include six more large multiplayer maps, a shooting range mode, and “Capture the Flag” to go along with “Distance King” and “No Cross.” There are now “Overwatch” co-op missions, where one player is the sniper and the other works as an operative.
Overall, Sniper Elite III: Ultimate Edition is a mixed bag. Although all of the textures are sharp, the environments and models all seem a bit generic. Of course, the desert setting doesn’t help. This is all in stark contrast to the over-the-top Sniper Elite Kill-cam. In addition to a light narrative, the single-player campaign is left mostly forgettable. With its interface and AI issues, Sniper Elite III feels like an unfinished game. The multi-player and co-op are bright spots, if you have like-minded friends, but the overall package takes me back to a time when less was expected of first-person shooters and stealth games.
Sniper Elite III: Ultimate Edition is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Violence, Blood, Language, Use of Alcohol. This game can also be found on: Xbox One, and Windows PC
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