If I wanted to be super lazy I could simply post those links and say this game is more of the same except in the African theater with larger and better level design, better graphics, and a few more customization choices and call it a day because that’s basically it.
But I can do better than that because that would be a bit of an unfair over-gloss.
This series is a welcome breath of fresh air against run and gun shooting and you can see from my previous reviews that I’m overall enthusiastic about this series despite some quibbles and annoyances which, unfortunately, remain for this new game. Being a sequel this means I have to be a little less forgiving this time around since there weren’t enough fundamental improvements that needed to happen.
I was able to max this game out easily on an i7 4770K, 8GB of DDR31600, and a GTX780 with 3GB of VRAM at 1920×1200 resolution. FRAPS says I was coasting around 100 fps thereabouts so no worries. This will run fine on a wide gambit of machines up and down the price spectrum and it scales very well.
The game offers fairly comprehensive graphics options including super-sampling. For those of you who may not know, the quick and dirty definition of super-sampling basically means you can play the game at a higher resolution than your native resolution for all intents and purposes. It’s a neat trick that you best better believe taxes your hardware. There are three choices: Off, 2.5, and 4.0 multipliers.
At 2.5 I saw an uptick on the visuals but it wasn’t very appreciable. My performance dropped to roughly 45-50 fps. I liked what I saw but I decided to be greedy and see what 4.0 would look like. It was gorgeous. The fidelity was astounding and I found myself having an all new respect for my already six year old desktop monitor. I couldn’t believe it. Every texture absolutely stood out on the screen and I could appreciate some detail in the graphics that I wasn’t seeing as clearly without the super-sampling.
There was a price to be paid however as my performance went to 30-35 fps at best. The game was playable like this but I could feel some resistance that I didn’t care for and that is undesirable in shooters so I decided to forgo the super-sampling entirely. It’s a law of diminishing returns item ultimately and it’s something you definitely don’t want working against you in any multiplayer situation. Hopefully this gives you a broad frame of reference of what to expect should you experiment with the graphics settings yourselves. Overall this is a better looking game than its predecessor and especially when you start turning up super-sampling. If you can run super-sampling by all means do so and enjoy the eye candy boost.
The same music composer returns and expands on some of his musical ideas from part 2 that I felt were decent but flat and repetitive. I ultimately turned the music off in part 2 because of this. For this game he expands his color and palette to cover the African theater themes and it’s welcome, but again there simply isn’t enough of it so I found myself once again turning the music way down due to repetition.
The rest of the game sound is identical to part 2 although the war theater ambiance has changed logically given the settings and it’s effective. The other weapons sounds are functional but nothing to write home about.
Like the previous game, overall game world sound design very effective and impressive warzone experience and a strong sound design that’s worthy or your sound system. Consider killing the music so you can appreciate it even more.
There are more deliberate scenarios in the level where stealth is encouraged. This can be fun but it can also be frustrating due to the return of the inconsistent AI and subpar gameplay for the non sniper rifle weapons.
Cadet, Marksman, Sniper Elite, Authentic, and Custom. Authentic is laughable in the level of frustration it presents. Sniper Elite is where I play and it’s about all I can stand so far the AI goes. I am considering using Custom and dialing things more specifically and I am glad they included that option.
The kill cam gimmick returns and it thankfully has several settings: Off, quick, reduced, increased, and normal. I found I preferred quick because I like the effect and find it satisfying on great shots but it doesn’t need to be 2001: A Space Odyssey every single time I make a good shot.
Multiplayer is robust, diverse, and guarantees this title many hours of play. Any deficiencies in the AI are no longer a factor when it’s all human players, and this is not something you rack up dozens of kills in. It can be intense, nail biting, and downright sublime at times.
Level Design is more open and diverse and improved across the boards from the previous games. It wouldn’t take much for this series to go open world sandbox or flirt with it. I see the potential there.
The gameplay is clearly at its best and geared for sniping as you would expect in a game with a name like this. It’s exactly the same as the previous game with minor nuances and refinements. Despite the welcome occasions to use stealth, and you can be successful, I still feel that the gameplay is a bit too unevenly in favor of sniping and the other weapons and situations suffer for it. I understand it’s a sniper game and I don’t want that to change but as before if you find yourself in a situation when you are down to your secondary weapon or your pistol you usually can expect to be found out, overwhelmed, and put down hard. I will get more specific about the AI in the complaints area but it is very uneven at times. It can either be dumb or superhuman.
You can be successful stealthing in this game despite this, but ultimately it isn’t as fun or satisfying as whipping out the sniper rifle and doing things that way and I would argue this is true to a fault.
Overall it’s a challenging game and I like that and that’s a positive. Unfortunately some of the challenge is thanks to needless glitches and the aforementioned inconsistent AI. My advice: save often.
A strange negative mouse acceleration makes its unfortunate return to the series from part two. Usually the problem in games tends to be the opposite so this is a new one on me. It needs to be patched out post haste. It isn’t a deal breaker if you have a nice mouse when you can turn the DPI up but I honestly don’t understand why I see forced mouse acceleration positive or negative in any PC game. It just shouldn’t be there. Give me a menu choice and leave it at that. I’ll never understand why game developers do this either way.
The AI has amazing hearing and eyesight at times and at other times it’s dumber than dog you-know-what. The AI will also hound you and make some incredible shots from large distances so expect to die a lot at the higher difficulties. I like a healthy challenge but like the previous games you will see something at times that can only be described as “cheating” by the AI.
This is where Multiplayer is critical on this series. Taking out the AI for human players turns this game into a different animal and saves it. If this game were single player only I would not be able to recommend it until it were at a considerably discounted price. Multiplayer guarantees many hours of enjoyment and a breath of fresh air on a scene overloaded with shooters and especially those of the run and gun type.
There are some annoying glitches that have carried over from the second game I’m sorry to say. Bizarre animations glitches during kill cams including the gun aiming in an impossible direction are jarring as is the “sudden level reset” jolt that happens on occasion. I’m running this game on a fairly powerful rig and even I will have occasions where the game will hitch and freeze for a second in a manner that makes me wonder if the game is going to crash but it doesn’t. If I’m seeing it on my rig then I know this is going to be possibly even more pronounced on down the ladder.
To their credit, Rebellion’s support on V2 was superb. V2 evolved before my eyes although they never were able to fix some of the most inherent glitches as evidenced by their carry over into this new game.
Here is a thread in the Steam Community in regards to Sniper Elite 3 and sure enough you can see Rebellion is active and communicating with players. It’s clear of this writing that they intend to offer robust support once again so this is encouraging.
For all intents and purposes, this game is more of Sniper Elite V2 except in a different location with better and more wide open level design and better graphics. I also welcome the expanded customizing options for weapons and gear. Past these, it’s the same game.
Multiplayer once again is where this really shines and has potential to be a dark horse. All human players gets rid of the AI quirks and imperfections and it can be intense and arguably even sublime. This is not Call of Duty where you will rack up several dozen kills. This is about being patient and methodical and this is one of the biggest reasons I’m a fan of this series. It’s a welcome antidote and breath of fresh air from run and gun brainless shooting.
The next game in this series cannot be more of the same. It’s that simple. Even fans like me are going to be forced to be less forgiving as you have seen here in this review vs the tone of my previous reviews and the fact that my score will be staying identical instead of going up to four stars where it really should have and I had hoped for. Had it not been for the multiplayer, the customization options, the better level design, and better graphics I would have gone down to three stars on this one to say honest as a reviewer.
What kind of improvements would I like to see for the future of this series?
Let’s start with the most essential element, the gameplay:
If I had to come up with a loose frame of reference of how I would tweak the non sniping gameplay I would take a long hard look at Splinter Cell Backlist. That game is fantastic and handles the stealth gameplay and related mechanics as well as any game of its type that I’ve played on the market since its own predecessor Splinter Cell Chaos Theory. This would have to be handled carefully to not lose the identify of what this series is supposed to be about but for people that have played those games in addition to these Sniper Elite games hopefully you can get the general idea. Obviously keep the emphasis on sniping since that’s the thrust of this series but the non sniping simply needs to be more fun and more satisfying.
Rockstar did exactly this on Grand Theft Auto 5 by lightly borrowing some cover and stealth mechanics from Blacklist and I couldn’t have appreciated it more. So if they could do it for as unstealthy of a game as GTA 5 to great success, then so should Rebellion and some others that do incorporate stealth into their games.
Less obvious glitches like the aforementioned bizarre animation glitches. I shouldn’t be seeing any kind of hitching constantly in levels on the kind of rig I’m running and especially when I’m not being greed with super-sampling and things of that nature.
The console folks need even more help than the PC side. I don’t know what’s happening when 505 Games gets a hold of this but once again if you look up the reviews of the PC version vs the console versions you will see a good one point on average disparity in favor of the PC version.
Once again, the PC version is definitely the one to get if you have a PC that is game worthy. I recommend this game to fans of the previous games. I can’t see anything here that would change the mind of people that didn’t like or didn’t care about the last game. I expect to see the price drop at a fairly brisk on the PC side. Shortly before this game came out, Rebellion had run a promotional over Steam where they were giving out free copies of part two which I thought was brilliant. As is, part two can be had for cheap so I would recommend trying that first before diving into this one.
Overall this is a game that does what it does well but still does some things poorly as before and that gap needs to be closed for the sake of the future of this series that I would like to see continue.
Sniper Elite 3 gets a three out of five: GOOD.