THAT SWEET ELITE DESERT HEAT
Note: The following review SPOILER FREE!
The sound of dirt grinding beneath you is soft as you crawl toward the ridge. Looking through your binoculars, you count four Nazi soldiers camping around an outpost. They’re close enough that taking one out will alert the others and you decide this is a perfect time for a distraction. A box of ammunition is on the far side of the camp ground. You pull your rifle, slow your breathing, and take a shot. Sparks begin to fly out of the box and you’re pleased to see each Nazi start to head that direction in surprise. It is time to begin.
Time slows down as you pull the trigger. The camera follows the bullet as it roars its way to the first target: the Nazi closest to you. The camera switches to X-ray vision and you watch the bullet tear through the Nazi’s liver, incapacitating him. Quickly, you switch targets as they all heard the first shot and engage the Nazi behind the one writhing in agony. With your crosshairs lined up and your breathing steadied, time slows one more time. The bullet crashes through the front of the Nazi’s skull, sending pieces of brain and splintered bone all over the place. It’s not just you doing the shooting anymore as the two remaining Nazi’s have opened fire. Shots ping and whizz around you, but you’re in the zone now. The other two Nazi’s go down in rapid succession, one slow motion kill at a time. It’s time to pack up, the war is just beginning.
The Nazi plague
The story is pretty loose as you follow the Karl Fairburne while he attempts to quell the Nazi presence in North Africa. There are a handful of information documents that you uncover by searching bodies and tents, but nothing life changing that will have you hanging on every single detail and moment. Long story short; Nazis are bad and you are sent to kill them.
Slow Mo mayhem
As a newcomer to the Sniper franchise, there was one moment in the game that really caught me by surprise, and honestly caused me to say a sentence I have never uttered before, “Was that… his ballsack?!”
The overarching reason that most gamers (that I’ve spoken to anyway) buy the Sniper Elite games in the first place is because with each sniper shot, time slows down and you see how accurately you are destroying the inner workings of a Nazi. Seeing the organs explode, blood splatter, and bone parts shatter is so gratifying that it honestly makes no sense to use any other gun in your small arsenal. The Welrod is good for stealth but has a short range, useless for anything but a headshot. The small machine gun you’re given is good to get you out of a tight spot, but the chances of your survival are slim. The different grenades and traps you can put in place are pretty cool, but all pale in comparison to the beautiful deaths that take place with your trusty rifle.
The AI system is pretty flimsy. Whenever you take a shot that notifies all the Nazis that you have a fever, and the only prescription is more gratuitous Nazi deaths, all you have to do is run a specific distance away from the area and they forget all about you. Sounds legit? No.
The single player maps are expansive and let you pick and choose the way you want to complete the missions throughout to mix up the play styles. There are some online challenges where you can see how well you fare against wave after wave of Nazi soldiers, or distance challenges to let you hone your accuracy. Online modes can be competed with or against each other, with the brightest light shining on the long range shootout, but more specifically the co-op mode, where you and a buddy can play through the entire game together, which is rare and welcome in any game I play. A lot of people complain about multiplayer modes in games, but Sniper Elite III reminds us how well it can work and just how much fun it can be.
Let that beautiful blood, flow.
Sniper Elite III looks best when it is most important to do so: slow motion kill shots. The rest of the game is pretty much business as usual for shooters. The daylight desert landscape is pretty and visceral, and the night time elements have good use of torch lightning and muzzle flashing, but it feels like they could have done so much more with a game in the desert. I kept waiting to look at the terrain and see those invisible heat waves alter my view a little bit. Most noteworthy, in my opinion, is that Karl doesn’t sweat, like at all, ever. It’s the freaking desert, and the lack of perspiration in a game that was focused on heart rate and crosshair accuracy was so apparent, it was distracting to me. Was it a deal breaker for the game? No. However, it’s worth noting.
Voice acting and dialogue is pretty cheeseball for my taste, as you’ll hear during the intro cinematic where this seasoned war hero apparently could care less when he says most of the men coming to fight “won’t make it back.” There is a real price to be paid in war, and a brotherhood that exists amongst those in the military, and it made Karl come off as less of a hero and more a heartless murderer.
While the story and voice over work aren’t revolutionary to shooter franchise, the varied possibilities through missions, glorious kill shots, and multiple online play styles (co-op!) are more than enough to warrant adding this shooter to your collection.
What’s the most gruesome kill you’ve pulled off? Was that in fact his ballsack? Shoot us a comment below.
*This review of Sniper Elite III is based off playing a retail copy of the game on the PlayStation 4 console.
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