We here at Short Pause are determined to make sure that we bring you — our gamers — nothing but the most honest, unbiased reviews. However, there is a flipside to this straightforward and forthright coin, and that is sometimes developers aren’t fully sure what to expect from their game's multiplayer component until it is out in the wild. In these instances, we believe it’s only fair that we give the developers some time to work out the unintended and seemingly inevitable kinks that can run amok when a game launches, so we will be going with a review-in-progress approach on a case-by-case basis. With that being said, you can still expect our honest thoughts and impressions of the game's single player offerings, gameplay, performance, and any other online functionality that may be operational (i.e.: cooperative play). Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let us proceed with our Review-in-Progress of Rebellion's Sniper Elite 3!
So far, I’ve managed to play through four of the campaign’s eight missions, as well as run through both of the Overwatch cooperative maps. While I’ve been able to sample the multiplayer suite – at this point by sheer luck – there are still a number of network issues going on behind the scenes that have made the online portion of the game all but unplayable. Rebellion has been very active communicating to its fans, on both Twitter and the official Sniper Elite 3 forums, that they’re well aware of the issues and are working hard to get them fixed. It’s important to note that while most of these issues are present on the PlayStation 4 version of the game, I fared slightly better getting into matches while playing the Xbox One version. Even then, I was only getting into rooms where it was one versus one, or maybe two versus two. It appears it’s an issue with matchmaking and, hopefully, it’s an issue that Rebellion can quickly remedy.
The setting for Sniper Elite V2 was in war-torn Europe, featuring lots of urban combat among the ruined buildings; and while each mission map was large in size, the experience was still quite linear. The oversaturation of gray coloring in every area left each environment looking similar, save for missions that were played at night as opposed to during the day. In Sniper Elite 3, Rebellion has shifted over to the colorful, more vibrant setting of Africa; harnessing the power of next-gen consoles has allowed them to create a much more lush and visually impressive setting. The game looks great so far during any time of day, though the heavy lighting bloom from the sun is a bit overdone.
”In Sniper Elite 3, Rebellion has shifted over to the colorful, more vibrant setting of Africa; harnessing the power of next-gen consoles has allowed them to create a much more lush and visually impressive setting."
While the enemy AI has improved since Sniper Elite V2, there are still lapses in logic that keep it from being a selling point. As with all games that focus on stealth, if you fail to move a body out of plain sight, the enemy will go into lockdown mode and try to hunt you down. If you’re not using sabotaged generators, the drone of planes overhead, or AA guns to mask your sniper shots (no silencers here!), the enemy will grow increasingly aware of your location. Once an indicator shows they’ve gone from Alerted to Attack mode, you will be required to relocate to another area in order to convince them that the area is clear, subsequently causing them to lower their guard. However, I will never understand why there isn’t a penalty for not doing a better job at concealing the bodies of the dead. It gets rather silly — which in turn reduces the welcome tension of sniping — that even after finding twenty or so of their fellow comrades with their brains laying all over the ground, they wouldn’t at least remain in an alerted state in the immediate area
What Sniper Elite 3 does excel at, so far, are the mission designs themselves, and the option to approach each objective from multiple angles. It's similar in this respect to Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, although not quite as open-world. You have the choice of which objectives you’d like to do first, whether it be an optional objective or a primary one.
”What Sniper Elite 3 does excel at, so far, are the mission designs themselves, and the option to approach each objective from multiple angles."
When it’s all said and done, if I’m trying to complete all the objectives and remain off the radar, it typically has taken me anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours to complete each mission — and that’s without spending much time looking for the all the collectable diaries and playing cards hidden throughout. Overall, I’ve had a blast playing the single player campaign thus far. I’m currently playing on Normal settings, but look to bump it up to a tougher difficulty featuring more realistic ballistic settings for the ultimate challenge when I tackle the campaign via co-op with Ben.
I haven’t tried out the campaign cooperatively — I will have by the time I write the final review — but I have tried out the other various cooperative modes, those being Survival and Overwatch, and of those two, it’s the latter that is most appealing. Overwatch tasks you and a friend with a series of objectives that play out over three acts. There are currently only two Overwatch maps at this time, with Tiger Hunt being the better of the two. When playing Overwatch, one player is designated as the sniper while the other takes on the role of the operative. The operative’s main weapon is an SMG, though I’d recommend using the Welrod silenced pistol because you’ll be surprised how many enemies are not out in the open when the mode starts; you’ll find this out rather quickly should you draw too much attention to yourself. As the operative maneuvers their way through enemy territory, the Sniper sits up on a nice perch with a bird’s eye view of the entire encampment below, providing cover and dispatching enemies marked by the operative. It’s quite thrilling when you’re the operative and you see two enemies quickly approaching your location, only to watch as both enemies are dropped with two quick, well placed headshots as thunder rips through the sky above. There is just something so “bromantic” about running a two man game against a entire brigade without raising an alarm, and it’s incredibly satisfying.
”There is just something so “bromantic” about running a two man game against a entire brigade without raising an alarm, and it’s incredibly satisfying."
Other Points Of Praise & Concern
- Any and all XP earned in any mode — whether it be the campaign, cooperative play, or multiplayer (even private rooms are ranked!) — goes towards one universal pot. New weapons, weapon attachments, and equipment are unlocked as you rank up.
- There have been some minor glitches that I’ve encountered that may or may not be addressed in the upcoming patch. Enemies getting caught on parts of the environment, the bullet indicator not lining up correctly at all, and a rare case where the burnt corpses of two troops killed by an exploding vehicle had alert indicators above their heads as I walked past them. It even let me melee their corpse for XP.
- The limited number of cooperative (2) and multiplayer maps (5 for normal modes, only 2 for the No Cross Mode)is a bit disappointing. Currently there is a season pass available to PC owners only, but 505 Games has yet to announce whether or not the pass, or any of its content, will be made available to console owners in the future.
Up to this point, Rebellion has done a good job overall bringing the Sniper Elite franchise to next-gen consoles. I’m very impressed by the overall look and feel of the game, controls are tight, sniping is incredibly satisfying, and replayability is definitely a major plus for the campaign. I do hope that Rebellion is able to shore up the network issues that are plaguing the game’s multiplayer functionality, as well as some of the random glitches that I’ve come across along the way. The game has serious potential to flourish, even if only for a niche audience. Stay tuned to Short Pause as we will be posting our final review next week.