Sniper Elite 3 Review

Having last played the super-cute Pokémon Art Academy for review, I was definitely in need of something a bit more  ‘adult’, and where better to turn than the latest entry in Rebellion’s Sniper Elite series.

Set during World War 2, this third-person shooter sees you take control of Lieutenant Karl Fairburne in a bid to take on the Germans, who are rumoured to be building some kind of weapon that could win them the war outright. Now when I say “World War 2”, the first thing that might spring to mind is trudging through bleak, shelled out areas of Europe, with a colour palette that only shifts away from grey when there’s some black that needs showing. Sniper Elite 3 however, is set in Africa, and the Germans you’ll be taking on are the Afrika Corps, who seem to be a very dominant force. It makes for an interesting change, swapping concrete jungles for canyons and abandoned cities half covered in sand.

Rather than a run-and-gun type affair that you might expect from a game based in World War 2, Sniper Elite 3 is very much about tactics – in fact the tagline is “Observe. Plan. Execute. Adapt”. Every level, which is apparently three times bigger than those found in Sniper Elite 2, starts with a cutscene explaining the current situation, as well as dropping hints about how best to tool up. You are then given the option to choose and modify your loadout, which comprises of a main rifle, an automatic weapon, a sidearm, and various other items such as mines, bandages, and rocks (yes, we’ll come back to rocks later). Your rifle can be upgraded as you go, providing you find the correct parts littered about the place.

As soon as you hit the ground you’ll be given a target to reach, but it’s how you get there that is the game’s biggest draw. You are very rarely funnelled down a path, and instead encouraged to look around and react based on how you want to play the game. Various events throughout most levels, be it a plane passing low overhead or an old generator on its last legs, will generate noise at certain intervals. Find a decent sniping spot and time your shots to coincide with the increase in background noise, and you can take out a good few of the patrolmen without anyone even knowing.

Or, if you’re feeling brave, you can sneak right into an area crawling with enemies and systematically take them down one by one, which can also be done in a variety of ways. A silenced weapon is effective, but ammunition is sparse, so it might be better to throw a rock to distract the enemy and then sneak up for a stealth takedown. Don’t forget to hide the bodies though; as if they are spotted then you’ll have a fight on your hands!

You’ll inevitably raise the alarm at times, but even when that happens you can turn it to your advantage by ‘relocating’. Basically, if you’re spotted, then enemies in the area will rush to that point to intercept you, but you can use this to your advantage to move on to a new point and either continue on to your target or fight back. These are just a couple of ways to approach a task, but there are others. Be warned though, you are not Master Chief. On anything but the easiest setting you’ll only take a couple of hits before getting into trouble.


To reinforce the need for tactical behaviour, your shooting is affected by your heart rate, which is displayed at the bottom of the screen. Run all over the place and you’ll find it very difficult to snipe efficiently, as the scope will be wobbling all over the place. Remain calm, however, and you’ll have a steady shot and the ability to focus in close to a target, briefly slowing down time. The sniping element of the game is very satisfying, and the difficulty can be adjusted to take into account the effects of gravity and wind on the bullet.

Firing off a decent shot at a target will often trigger the X-Ray kill cam – an extremely brutal close up of your bullet entering whatever part of the enemy’s body you hit, before switching to X-Ray where you can see bones shattering and organs exploding, accompanied by a stomach churning gurgling sound as the victim seems to drown in their own blood. I’m quite worried about how much I like this feature, and there was a morbid satisfaction to seeing “Testicle Shot: 20 points” pop up – as if I needed any more of an incentive to shoot people in the balls!

It’s a real pity then, that the rest of the gunplay is so weak. Yes, I can appreciate that fact the game wants you to “go loud” as a last resort, but sneaking around dominates the game such that if you do find yourself needing to use your side arms, you’ll find Lieutenant Karl Fairburne has turned from an ice cold sniping God to a flailing rookie. The guns lack any sort of punch and feel in his hands, and it really doesn’t help that the enemy can happily tag you from afar with similar weapons.

In terms of user interface, you’ll find that pretty much every button on the controller has a use. Pressing one of the shoulder buttons will bring up all your items in a handy wheel, which can be quickly navigated. You can assign items and weapons to the D-pad for even quicker access. Pressing the touch pad on the PS4’s controller will also bring up the map.

Outside of the roughly 11 hour campaign there are single-player challenges to take on, which involve surviving multiple waves of enemies. These are an enjoyable distraction and any XP earned can be carried over to the main game to help unlock things.

The game also has a multiplayer and co-op mode. I should say straight away that I haven’t been able to test either since, as you can imagine, the servers are pretty empty at the moment. The multiplayer is of the competitive variety, whereas the co-op modes come in “overwatch” and “survival” flavours, though you can also play the entire campaign in two player co-op, which sounds pretty great if you have a likeminded friend.

Graphically Sniper Elite 3 is inconsistent. Some of the levels look absolutely fantastic, but animation is incredibly wooden, especially when crawling. I’ve also encountered a number of bugs, which have spawned bizarre things such as enemies walking while in a sitting position, dead enemies having a continuous spasm attack across the floor, your character clipping right through objects and one example saw an enemy turning completely invisible before reappearing somewhere else entirely, making it impossible to successfully sneak past, as you couldn’t see him.

Some of the button prompts also had a tendency to be rather flaky. Many times the “search body” icon would simply not appear, even when looking directly at the recently deceased German officer. Also, there were times where inputting actions such as going prone just weren’t recognised. As far as I’m aware, I was playing the most up-to-date version of the game with the patch downloaded, but all of these little niggles certainly detract from the experience, giving it an unfinished air.

What’s Good:

  • Sniping feels great.
  • X-Ray kill cam is gruesome.
  • Multiple ways to approach a level.

What’s Bad:

  • Secondary weapons are weak.
  • Many bugs encountered.

There’s a good amount of enjoyment and a fair old challenge to be found with Sniper Elite 3. Those who are after more than just another run-and-gun game will do well here, and the inclusion of two player co-op is the icing on the cake. Unfortunately the game is dragged down slightly by the number of glitches, which somewhat ruin the immersion. Still, if you’re after something both tactical and brutal, this is well worth a look.

Score: 7/10

Version tested: PS4


  1. Sounds like a bargain bin game I think. Regarding the co-op, is it either split screen or online? Local co-op would tempt me to pick it up.

    • It’s just online co-op, I’m afraid.

      • Booooooo, odd that they wouldn’t put that in there, thanks for the reply.

  2. “Many bugs encountered” – pretty standard for new games these days. God forbid anyone release a game “ready” at launch.

    Not gonna read too much into the score, pretty sure TSA gave V2 6 or 7 out of 10, yet it was one of the games I enjoyed the most last gen. It’s a real nice change of pace than any other shooters, and the addition of more co-op makes it even better.

    I hope the level design is just as good, my concern with the setting is that it could get a bit samey.

    • If you loved SE V2 last gen, then this will be right up your alley, almost regardless of the score. I know Bunimomike and I will be clattering through it with about as much finesse as an angry bag of cats trying to catch a pigeon this weekend.

      • Haha!

        McProley and I intend to start it in a week or so, once I’ve finished Watch Dogs and he’s finished Wolfenstein. Can’t wait to play the entire campaign in co-op!

        To be fair most of the problems seem to be the same as in V2 – poor secondary weapons and average character animations, which I never found to be game breaking.

      • Lol Tef, sounds like myself and Youles approaching a boss level in Gattling Gears co-op. We fared better bagging the online co-op trophies in Sniper Elite 2 though :P

      • Played a bit of it but dying to play more. Co-op feels familiar but shiny-new! Tef and I are already having a good laugh with it.

        Graphically very strong on the PC. Few bugs but hey-ho. Also, the mo-cap (or lack thereof) in Payday2 was never off-putting and didn’t stop the game being a great laugh. Any dodgy animation in this will be the same. Nothing more than a “oh, that looks a bit ropey” but it’s been very solid so far.

  3. Was hoping this would be an essential buy, as October is still a long way away…

  4. Regarding the bugs, was this review code or the final retail one? If so, does it include the day 1 patch?

    Just waiting for the postie to deliver at the moment.

    • The paragraph about the “What’s Good/Bad” says he had the latest version, with patch (10gb) installed. Hopefully some of these issues will be resolved in subsequent patches – seems to be the norm these day – we’ll fix it later!

      • Damn, I did look in the article but not hard enough, thanks. I really do wonder why a patch of 10GB is needed.

      • Yay, patch is only 450MB, must just be the Xbox One that has the 10GB patch (might be due to res being boosted to 1080p?)

    • I reckon so. They received a new SDK in late development and so probably decided to patch in the extra optimisation. Dead Rising 3 did a similar thing.

      Hoping Titanfall receives a new patch, but tbh it still looks good as is.

      • Hmm yeah, probably that, but still, 10GB though? maybe they replaced the assets with higher quality ones?

        Note: the pre-order ‘hunt the wolf’ dlc is a 2GB download (on ps4 at least).

  5. Mine just arrived. Love this series so much.

  6. Got it on download from from PSN along with the hitler level. Problem is the extra level didn’t download and now I don’t seem able to download it again :(. I loved the last game though so looking forward to getting some hours in this weekend!

  7. Enjoying game. However pre ordered on PSN and dlc level says cannot download and no way of re downloading it. Any one else with this problem and know how to fix it.

  8. Thought V2 was great so definetely gonna pick this up. probably wait for it to receive a couple of updates to fix the bugs and for the price to come down a bit.

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