January 13, 2020 at 4:51 PM #1395
Sniper Elite III
Rating: 2.0 – Poor
Shoot Hitler. For a fee.
The Sniper Elite series has garnered somewhat of a niche following, and for the life of me, I do not understand why. Sniper Elite III is one of the least pleasurable experiences I’ve had with a shooter in a very long time, and with far better options on the market, I can’t fathom why anyone would bother with this game.
Right from the outset, the game will leave a bad taste in your mouth. The install times are ridiculous on Xbox One, with Sniper Elite III requiring considerably more space on your hard drive than more advanced games with more content. It is even more ludicrous when one considers that Sniper Elite III is merely a cross-generational title, so it isn’t even a real next-gen experience.
Not only that, but the game practices some bad pre-order DLC nonsense. Those that pre-ordered the game have access to a special mission where the goal is to kill Hitler. Obviously, this is a very desirable mission. What bugs me about this is that this is considerable content–not just a costume or a weapon or something like most pre-order DLC. The developers built what is essentially an entire completely new mission and purposefully left it out of the full game to try to make people pre-order it. The DLC is also available for purchase if you didn’t pre-order, but it’s these shady business practices that make me not want to spend a dime on games or future games made by the developer.
I played Sniper Elite III on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. I am reviewing the Xbox One version as it is the version that I played the most, but I have to warn you, if you have both consoles and for some reason want to play this terrible game, PS4 is the way to go. The frame rate on the Xbox One version is truly terrible. The screen tearing is ridiculous, and there’s no excuse for it. It isn’t a matter of PS4 being "stronger" than Xbox One, it’s a matter of lazy developers that simply rushed the Xbox One port out the door. As someone that prefers to game on Xbox One, it is worrisome that developers are neglecting it in favor of PlayStation 4.
The game itself starts out really good, actually. I had high hopes for the campaign after the excellent first couple of missions, but the rest of the missions in the very short campaign are all pretty bad and unremarkable. The first two missions benefit by having unique objectives and by being designed very different from one another. However, after that the settings are kind of recycled. The map design itself is different, with a different layout and what-not, but the look of the maps are either desert during the day or desert at night.
The mission objectives are also recycled repeatedly, or they are slight variants on objectives you’ve already completed before. In the first two missions, when the objectives have yet to repeat, the game is actually pretty fun. It has mini open worlds that are mostly wide open and allow players to complete objectives in multiple ways. However, without any variety, this structure quickly becomes a bore and the open world nature ultimately works against the game in the long run.
One of the main gimmicks of the game and the gimmick that basically made the series famous, is how shots with snipers will zoom in on enemies and show the bullet move through their body, revealing the damage being caused internally with Mortal Kombat style X-ray vision. For the first dozen times or so, this is pretty thrilling with how intensely graphic it is. But like overly gory movies, the effect wears off rather quickly, and it starts to mean absolutely nothing. This gimmick is good for a few laughs, but I found myself skipping all of the shots by the end of the game as I had seen literally everything that could possibly happen.
The sniper is the deadliest weapon in the game, but the main character has some other weapons at his disposal as well. None of them are particularly useful except for the silenced pistol called the Welrod, and a rocket launcher that is earned later which makes destroying tanks less of a pain in the ass. Sneaking through the levels silently with the Welrod, stealth melee kills, and using loud noises to cover up sniper shots is, again, really cool at first, but doing it over and over again becomes really old really quick.
Besides the campaign, there is a challenge mode in which you will continue to repeatedly do the same things over and over again, as well as a multiplayer mode. The multiplayer is nothing special, and it is going to be dead by this time next year, if not sooner. Most shooters simply can’t compete with juggernauts like Call of Duty, Halo, Gears of War, or Battlefield, and they are doomed to have their online component die an early death. What’s sad about these games with online only multiplayer (Sniper Elite III is one such game), is that the maps and functionality that the game designers created will soon be lost forever as Sniper Elite III doesn’t allow for local multiplayer or co-op. This is unacceptable and just another reason to skip over it for a more competent shooter.
It doesn’t help matters that navigating the menus is a mess. When it takes me more than a minute to figure out how to customize my weapons, there’s a problem. Needlessly complicated menus make an already bad game even worse than it had to be.
On top of all of these issues, which by themselves would make the game one that I really couldn’t recommend to anyone, Sniper Elite III is also plagued with a multitude of unforgivable glitches. Most of these have to do with the collectibles in the game, though sometimes primary objectives simply won’t appear where they are supposed to be as well. This makes the game an extreme headache to try to fully complete, so completionists should stay far, far away from this one.
The game’s cross-gen tendencies are noticeable, though at times it does look somewhat better than most cross-gen titles. The textures and lighting are both well done, though the animation is terrible. I once performed a stealth kill on an enemy that was on a lighter. We both floated off the ground and a few inches to the left. My character performed the kill. I returned to the ground, but then the enemy started spazzing out, glitched in the wall, his dead body doomed to forever flail around like a Magikarp out of water.
AI is also a major technical flaw in this game. Both enemy and partner AI is horrendous. Allies you encounter in the game are so unbelievably incompetent that I am amazed this game bypass quality assurance testers. There was one side objective in the game for freeing some allied prisoners. I opened their cell door, and they just stayed sitting on their bench. I returned to this area a little later to see that they were now both attached to the wall, in the fetal position, their arms outstretched with claw-shaped hands to make them look like kittens getting their tummies rubbed. Glitchy games like this are good for a few laughs, but not for the asking price of Sniper Elite III.
I usually mention the story far earlier in my reviews, but Sniper Elite III hardly even has a story. I’ve played Madden games with better written stories than this. The cut-scenes try to tell a stitched together, nonsensical plot that really doesn’t matter at all. The writing is atrocious, the main character sounds like an idiot, and just like you will start doing with the cool X-ray sniper shots, you’ll find yourself skipping through the cut-scenes to save your brain cells.
Simply put, this game doesn’t feel finished. It provides brief glimpses of entertainment, but it mostly features headaches, confusion, and frustration. From the shady DLC business practices to the bugs to the constantly recycled content, Sniper Elite III is one of the worst third-person shooters that I’ve played. There are far better shooters available on Xbox One, so spend your time playing those instead.
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