Wot I Think: Sniper Elite 3

Try RPS sister site Auk, Sandpiper, Shelduck for the Snipe Elite 3 review

If you’re looking for a Wot I Think on the recently released Snipe Elite 3 – a game in which you spend most of your time wading around wet meadows, using a long bill to probe mud for worms and larvae, you are in the wrong place. This is a Wot I Think on the recently released Sniper Elite 3 – a game in which you spend most of your time waddling around dry wadis, using a long arm to probe flesh for bones and organs. The only feathers you’ll find here are feather palms, the only helpless invertebrates Axis soldiers crudely de-spined by Lee-Enfields and M1 Garands.

Apologies for starting with an overwrought avian pun and a predictable kill cam screenshot. A stealth-heavy third-person shooter of this calibre (7.92 out of 10?) deserves better. I contemplated commencing with a bit of North African Campaign history, but to be honest, Sniper Elite 3’s interest in WW2 North Africa doesn’t go much beyond uniforms and weaponry.

What comes to mind when you think of Rommel and Monty’s monumental tussle for the Maghreb? Possibly not narrow canyons strewn with tank wrecks, Petra-like cliff temples, medieval castles swarming with Axis soldiers, and secret weapons factories carved into mountains. Rebellion’s level architects and texture artists know a thing or two about creating atmosphere and encouraging tactical experimentation, but chop down the date palms, chip off the pretty zellige tiles, and still the gust-driven dust flurries and the levels could be set just about anywhere. For most of the 11 or so hours it took me to sneak, stab, snipe and Welrod my way through the eight mission single-player campaign, I was waiting for The Desert Mission, the op that would send me out onto the dunes and the rocky plains… abandon me in the Qattara Depression to brave sandstorms and shoot at mirages. I still can’t quite believe that mission never materialised.

Objectives tend to be as genre-endebted as the environments. When the Top Brass want an enemy sharpshooter eliminated, mine-laying party discouraged, or convoy observed, they call on one of your off-screen understudies. You’re the square-jawed, stubble-scalped Afrika Korps bogeyman summoned when they need a heaving hornets’ nest infiltrated, some blueprints stolen, prisoners freed, bigwigs assassinated, or thermite placed.

Hornet handling methods are generally a matter of personal preference. Want to stand-off, potshotting sentries during periodic bursts of bombardment or machinery noise? Excellent choice! With Sniper Elite 3’s bloodthirsty ballistics, every trigger pull is an event. Prefer to ghost in, relying on tossed stones, suppressed pistols, and sharp Sheffield steel? Excellent choice! Though you’ll miss out on the grisly x-ray kill cam sequences, the neck snaps and base-of-the-skull stabbing of the close-quarter take-down animations ensure you end-up feeling tougher than Paddy Mayne.

Map design and miscalculations mean outings almost always involve a combination of long and short range slaughter, a mix of covert and overt methods. However clinical or lucky you are, there will be times when a dumped corpse is discovered, or a ladder climb or alley dash is mistimed… times when you end your days panic-wracked and breathless, cowering in the shadows cradling a hot, empty and desperately inaccurate submachine gun.

Bubble AI and a new, somewhat mechanical relocation dynamic ensures unexpected confrontations are temporary setbacks rather than level-alerting catastrophes. Put sufficient distance between yourself and a suspicious foe and pretty quickly that foe will stop searching and return to his patrol tramlines. Given the ambitious mission objectives, the number of enemies wandering some of the maps, and the ‘no saves or aiming aids’ rigour of the highest difficulty level, only masochists are likely to find this small compromise insulting.

Predictably, Sniper Elite 3 is at its best when the levels are airy and there’s a rifle optic between you and the big bad world. As bullet drop, wind effects, breathing control and pulse rate-related weapon bobbing are all modelled, sharpshooting without the help of the optional hit predictor cross can be bally challenging. To qualify as a high-fidelity WW2 sniping sim all the series really needs is proper penetration physics (at present feeble fretwork shutters seem to afford as much protection as stout sandbags and concrete dragons’ teeth) and a few larger maps (targets are rarely more than two or three hundred metres away).

What does the National Union of Games Journalists handbook have to say about coverage of SE3’s up-gibbed kill cam? “Qualify enthusiasm with a few sentences of high-minded hand-wringing”. Sounds about right to me. While the slow-motion bullet demolitions of bones, organs and – new in this instalment – muscles, veins and arteries, undeniably inject variety, physicality, and spectacle into what could have been a pretty cold, repetitive activity, I do find myself skipping them after an hour or two of play.

Mainly I hurry past because I want to get on with the lead slinging, but there’s probably a smidgeon of disgust in there too. I’m not sure I want to spend significant portions of my leisure time watching skulls shatter, and liver, lung and testicle mince mingle. The “but that’s what bullets do!” realism argument would butter more parsnips with me if SE seemed as interested in representing visible and audible battlefield realities like traumatic amputations and casualty cries, as invisible ones such as internal injuries.

Of the 18 or so hours I’ve spent with Sniper Elite 3 thus far, roughly a third has been spent in the company of sentient snipers. In addition to the solo attractions – the campaign and wave-survival challenge modes – there’s a pair of co-op missions and a slim yet effective selection of adversarial multiplayer game types. In ‘No Crossing’ the purest and most static of the MP styles, two teams trade cagey killshots across impassible gullies. With no danger of getting flanked or shot in the back of the head by infuriating insurgents, play basically boils to choosing a promising spot, then watching and waiting…

                                                 watching and waiting…

                                            waiting and waiting…

waiting and watching…

watching and WTF! That bastard, BambooHarvester79, has got me AGAIN!!

If you’re feeling charitable and don’t mind finishing near the bottom of the score table than you’re always free to whip out your powerful fieldglasses and start tagging targets for comrades. A team with a diligent spotter usually seems to do better than a team without one.

In team deathmatch the barricades that keep teams apart in ‘No Crossing’ are dismantled and pistols, submachine guns, and land mines come into their own. Fail to stick close to pals, pay attention to kill reports, or protect your roost with cunningly placed S-mines and you can all too easily fall victim to infiltrators. In standard every-man-for-himself deathmatch, potentially the cruellest and most frustrating of the three modes, the lone target-scanning sniper is even more vulnerable to roaming opportunists.

Even with customisable loadouts, ‘distance king’ (a play variant where scoring is based on total killshot range) and a mass of selectable server options influencing everything from sniping difficulty to sprint speed, it probably won’t be long before you start wondering why Rebellion didn’t include a Capture The Flag or territory-based mode. Currently MP can feel a little formless. There are wonderful sessions when impromptu Enemy At The Gates grudge matches develop or dazzlingly successful spotter-sniper relationships emerge, but all too often the skirmishes lack shape and a sense of purpose. The maps don’t help. Most of the five provided are confusing collections of similar buildings where the play and the players tend to swirl around aimless as dust devils. Where’s the minefield-dotted, wreck-strewn Cauldron map ? Where’s the Great Sand Sea map with the vast carcass of a crashed Gigant transport at its centre? At present there’s too much cover and not enough imagination on display in SE3’s multiplayer venues.

I’d love to have seen Rebellion weave more WW2 history into their solo campaign, and put a bit more love and novelty into their online play modes. Other than that, mark me down as a satisfied customer. The prospect of a second campaign playthrough – this time in Authentic mode (no threat radar, aiming aids, or saves!) – is genuinely enticing as is the thought of spending further evenings online, crouched in shadows, waiting and watching…

watching and waiting …

                                                  waiting and waiting…

                                                                                                                                            waiting and watching…

watching and watching…

                 watching and watching…

watching and waiting…

                                                                                                           waiting and waiting…



  1. Orija says:

    “Other than that, mark me down as a satisfied customer.” Is that nothing more that a figure of speech, or are you guys actually buying the games now?

  2. SickBrick says:

    Oh, Rebellion is at it’s best with no saves. I remember watching my brother play through the AvP (the original, not that 2010 shit) marine campaign, I was crying from suspense while he was fighting those last few predators.

  3. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    I know everyone’s going to laugh at me for this, but could you guys not uses pictures like that for the header image please? I don’t play games with graphic violence (this sort of thing, Mortal Kombat, etc.) because I’m not very fond of it, but it’d be nice to be able to view the RPS main page without having to look at images like that.

    (And before anyone comments that opening an article like this that’ll have more images is hypocritical, I only opened this article to post this comment.)

    • Orija says:

      Just think of it as a zombie laughing so hard that he’s spewing Pepsi everywhere.

    • SillyWizard says:

      What, you don’t approve of skellington confetti parties? Skellingtons have birthdays too!

    • Sleepy Will says:

      I for one agree with you! Slightly different reasoning but essentially because I want to control when and where I see graphic images.

      • P.Funk says:

        “I want to control when and where I see graphic images.”

        And with perfectly reasonable attitudes like that, thus the troll was born.

    • rikvanoostende says:

      Yes, it reminds me uncomfortably of my own mortality.

    • J. Cosmo Cohen says:

      I must be extremely desentisized. I had to scroll up and look at the image you were talking about, thinking I missed something horrible. That isn’t to downplay your sensitivity, or to say it isn’t gruesome by any means, but to merely point out my own desensitization to this sort of thing. Truthfully, the image didn’t even faze me.

      • w0bbl3r says:

        I wasn’t in the least bit bothered by it. I don’t think I am desensitized to gore at all. Show me a nasty sports injury, a photo or video of someone who has just come a cropper in a football game or something and their foot is backwards, and I am reaching for the vomit bucket.
        But this is a game, they aren’t real people.
        I am never moved by gore in movie’s either. But show me a documentary of a surgeon performing some kind of invasive surgery and I get a bit wobbly.
        It’s all a matter of having a bit of common sense, knowing what is real and what isn’t, in my opinion

      • czerro says:

        There isn’t anything graphically violent taking place in that picture without the context of the game. It’s simply a knee-jerk RPS style commentator making his discerning observations known. Human anatomy is offensive? Like, you see a skeleton in classroom and are like, “WTF?!”. Arguably, a game about shooting unaware people in the head in the most life-life and investigative way possible is open for discussion. But this knee-jerkist isn’t intelligent enough to follow the logic that far and make a real argument.

        • czerro says:

          It’s like Cara trying to open the world’s eyes to sexism in games…when she uses the venue as an outlet for her self-aggrandizing poetry and questionable promotion of her friends… Oh…and it’s all about her being a female gamer…

          Sexism in media exists, but Cara is the worst…

          Why do you think RPS denies comments on her threads?

        • Premium User Badge

          Joshua says:

          An coloured X-ray-like picture that depicts the effects of a bullet entering the human body beneath the words of “Sniper Elite” is not considered graphic when you don’t know the context of the game?


          You are an interesting person. Also, there may be a problem with your knee. It’s suprisingly twitchy.

          • czerro says:

            You are the twitchy knee jerker. The image does not say sniper elite 3 on it anywhere though you stated it’s blazened across the image. Why would you say this? Oh…because you are a knee-jerker gettin’ all riled up and need to invent something…

            Also, the question was whether or not the image was offensive. I said it wasn’t without context. You then said it could be if someone clicked on SNIPER ELITE 3 and saw the image. You’re really trying so hard to be offended…

            There is infact an arguably gross thing about this game and worthy of discussion. X-rayed model is not one of them. That’s why you are a knee-jerkist. When you take a breath, you will realize the image is not infact the problem, or the thing that incited you to make a silly post.

          • Premium User Badge

            Joshua says:

            This article is called “Wot I Think: Sniper Elite V3”
            Then there’s an image (which used to be the top header, mind you).


    • Halk says:

      Where is the graphic violence exactly? It looks just like those busts with plastic organs they use in anatomy classes, the only difference is that it’s a bit surprised.

    • Premium User Badge

      Graham Smith says:

      I debated this back and forth and perhaps made the wrong decision. In any case, I’ve switched it around now.

      • SuicideKing says:

        I like your hair. It’s like mine.


      • Berzee says:

        Thanks! This was bothering me a teensy bit too, and upon checking the main page again I noticed the yucko zomble had become a sniper rifle, and was happy. =)

      • Flippyot says:

        And this is one of the many reasons why I like RPS.

        RPS can be preachy at times, but it is with good intentions and, for the most part, respectful to the parties involved.

        Keep it up.

        P.S. I didn’t find the photo graphic, but did find the angle of it horrendous. Should’ve shift left a few degrees.

      • danijami23 says:

        Did you draw your beard on with a felt pen, Graham?

      • LionsPhil says:

        Thankee, Mr Smith.

  4. gabrielonuris says:

    I hate aiming aid just like I hate not being able to save my game; is there some “custom” difficult, like the first one, so I’m able to tune down just the casual crap and keep some gaming features?

    • AbigailBuccaneer says:

      There apparently is a custom difficulty setting: link to youtube.com

    • Kronzky says:

      Yeah, go into Custom difficulty setting, set everything to the highest difficulty, and turn all the HUD crap off, and you got quite a challenging little game here.

  5. Shadow says:

    Aside from slightly greater detail in the gibcam and desert bushes instead of temperate bushes, how does it -really- improve over its predecessor? Steam gave away Sniper Elite 2 a couple of weeks ago, and I don’t see myself shelling out 50 dollars for a conservative sequel.

    • Halk says:

      Exactly, this review doesn’t address any of the questions I have, e.g did they improve the AI or is it still shit? Do enemies still spawn from nowhere, so that cleared areas actually may not be cleared? And most importantly, comment on the level design for cripes sake! That’s the most important thing in this kind of game. Is it open and with multiple ways to tackle missions, or is it mostly linear like the other games, thus sapping all the enjoyment of finding a good spot and sniping?

      • stonetoes says:

        I haven’t noticed any spawning enemies so far, I managed to clear a map, then when I shot my rifle and gave away my position a few times no new ones came running.

        I don’t remember the AI in V2, but I’ve had enemies run straight past me when looking for me (on the highest difficulty). This is pretty glaring because normallly they spot you easily if you’re directly in front of them.

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          Yeah the most glaring problem with Sniper Elite v2 was the “dumber than a pile of bricks” AI, hopefully they fixed it somewhat in this one. In v2 I found the random spawning was more noticeable in the multi-player modes, I don’t know if this is still the case.

      • Steven Hutton says:

        Yes they did. No it’s not. No they don’t. Levels are much more wide and open vastly less linear often with a number of interesting vantage points for sniping.

      • Tim Stone says:

        I had no major issues with the AI hence the lack of words. Enemies are possibly too eager to use ladders during searches, and once or twice I witnessed sentries ignoring nearby grenade blasts, but that’s about it. Hardly hanging offences.

        The same applies to conspicuous spawning. If I had noticed it I would have mentioned it.

    • stonetoes says:

      The levels seem a bit more open so far, though there’s still a hell of a lot of barriers around the place and I still end up feeling like I’m being channeled. Other than that I haven’t seen too much difference, though I’m only two levels in and I haven’t played V2 in a long time.

      • Tim Stone says:

        The levels tend to get roomier and less restrictive as the campaign progresses. The airbase in the bottom pic (Mission 7) for example, is completely open. Go where you like, slay who you like, from the get-go.

    • Shooop says:

      A quick browse of the game’s Steam forums answers your question.

      It doesn’t.

  6. nich10solo says:

    My biggest issue with the multiplayer is the 3rd person camera. You can completely hide your body and still look around corners or over short walls. Therefore everyone is completely hidden and watching for movement (hence the extreme waiting).

    A first person sniping game would be much better as it’d force the player to expose themselves in order to survey the area around them.

    • Rich says:

      I sort of agree. A third-person view goes some way towards reducing the handicap of first person games, such as no peripheral vision, not being able to peak around corners etc. I’d like a first-person game that addresses these issues, particularly if you’re given more control of where your gun is actually pointing.

      • P.Funk says:

        The thing about the handicap is that everyone is equal in that respect and everyone has to be vulnerable to do anything meaningful. With third person you defeat the true fear that comes from having a sniper know where you are because he sees you, he can shoot you and you can’t even poke your head out to see him without possibly dying.

        Dslyecxi did a good video on why he thinks 3rd person guts PvP.

        There have been over the years lots of good solutions to the gun handling question. Raven Shield had a button you could press so that you could move your gun/arms independently, like a free aim leaning.

        Frankly if developers were really interested in solving this problem without resorting to shitty cover mechanics then we’d already see dozens of more off the shelf solutions, but sadly thats not a design priority.

        Arma 3’s stance adjustment is a good modern solution and it exists in a game where most serious realism can be enforced by server settings, ie. no 3rd person. Makes for exciting PvP to know that exposing yourself is both required but also dangerous.

  7. garythehobo says:

    Ahh, thanks for putting this in my sights, I’ll watch out for this when I rifle through the next steam sale. (sorry)

  8. Michael Fogg says:

    For all the over-the-top brutality SE is also curiously sanitised in a way, since all the unfortunate foes that you shoot through the intestines politely die right away.

    • altum videtur says:

      I’m reminded of Assassin’s Creed I (who even remembers that thing) wherein the unfortunate fuckers you run through with a sword or dagger instead of the click-and-queen hidden blade (steel through your skull, anybody? yum) would be left on the ground clutching their guts, squirming in agony and screaming/pathetically blubbering for help.
      For a second there it made me consider how much media really likes, well, meanness I should guess.

    • Nyanthrax says:

      I remember tagging a guy in V2, but not hitting anything vital. He rolled around on the ground for a while moaning for a medic before finally going limp after about thirty seconds. Left me with a pretty bad taste in my mouth, and I wouldn’t exactly call it “sanitized.”

  9. SRTie4k says:

    I think what you were looking for is 7.62 out of 10.

    • JFS says:

      German service cartridge in both World Wars.

      • Comrade Roe says:

        How do I give you a cookie for knowing the round fired by the Kar-98k and a few other German firearms of the era?

      • SRTie4k says:

        Yes but the whole premise of this article is killing Nazi’s with an M1 or a Lee-Enfield, both of which were chambered closer to the 7.62. That’s why the pun works, not because of obscure German cartridge sizes.

  10. Ross Angus says:

    Excellent words. I do enjoy that they let Mr. Stone out of the Flare Path bunker once in a while.

    • Tim Stone says:

      Thanks! A couple of weeks ago the Flare Path bunker was hit on the chin by an AVRE ‘flying dustbin’. The resulting hole is just about big enough for an emaciated foxer fabricator to squeeze through.

      • Premium User Badge

        Joshua says:

        Will there be more of these “regular” articles? I greatly enjoy your writing style.

        • Tim Stone says:

          My regular gig is The Flare Path (Fridays at 13.00). I’d like to WITter more, but probably shouldn’t be let loose on anything that doesn’t include either…

          a) a StuG
          b) a Hawker Hurricane
          c) a Cessna
          d) a musket
          e) a halberd
          f) an 18th Century anthropomorphised sea otter called Littleneck who spends his days making maps, exploring wrecks, and using limpets to solve cliff climbing puzzles.

          • BooleanBob says:

            Your mention of StuGs has got me wondering: which pieces of military ordinance or vehiculature are now, thanks to anachronistic over-representation in video games, most inappropriately prominent in our modern-day (mis) understanding of history? Obviously not StuGs themselves, probably it would be something like the Tiger II. And horned viking helmets. Might be interesting foxer fodder if you could conjure some suitably hard figures out of the e-ther?

            Also, Tim, goodness me. I had a horrific experience courtesy of you, viz-a-viz a certain kan-a-l. I don’t like horror films! But what a tremendously affecting, incredibly well made film it was. Thanks for the recommendation.

          • Tim Stone says:

            Interesting topic, Bob. There’s a few German AFVs that would probably qualify. Sturmtigers and Puma armoured cars were incredibly rare in reality, but seem to crop up in quite a few games.

            Maybe I should have posted a warning with the Kanal link. Psychologically speaking I suppose it is pretty harrowing. Great film though. Gaming needs more Daisies and stielhandgranate boobytraps!

          • LionsPhil says:

            If ‘f’ isn’t made during some upcoming game jam, gaming has failed us.

  11. Premium User Badge

    james.hancox says:

    Sorry Tim, but Eurogamer used that pun 4 days ago: link to eurogamer.net

  12. Phendron says:

    Damn if those nazi skeletons don’t have some nice chompers.

  13. Alistair says:

    Is there an option to turn off the x-ray cam while still keeping the flying bullet cam? One being fab and the other a bit weird.

  14. derbefrier says:

    before you all run out and buy this you might want to consider what type of business practices you are supporting here

    link to pcgamer.com

    make your own decision but i think some of you might want to know this before you buy their games.

    • Richard Burton says:

      Hey I’ll be late for flight school if I read it all right now but scanning over it quick I get the jist Rebellion are suing Ironclad games for using the name “Rebellion” in a game, right? If that’s actually true (hard to believe?!) then couldn’t David Braben sue Rebellion for exactly the same thing? You know, for “cashing in” on using the word ‘Elite’? Seriously, is that right or did I read it wrong? If actually true, is it just some new Rebellion lawyer trying to make a name for him/herself (probably getting themselves fired in the process) or are all the Rebellion devs actually behind this seriously demented action?!

      • Saii says:

        Or for that matter could Star Wars owner Disney sue – as the “rebellion” featured prominently in 1979 handheld game and fully-licensed IP Star Wars Electronic Battle Command. link to handheldmuseum.com.

        Either way, I ain’t buying while they’re still trolling with trademark filings.

    • spleendamage says:

      I was planning to come here and post something similar. Pisses me off that companies decide that they can “own” English words: not a million monkeys-on-keyboards words, but single words like “Rebellion” or “Candy” or “Scrolls.”

    • Solidstate89 says:

      I’m shocked that RPS hasn’t covered this yet, given the amount of coverage they gave those asshole Candy Crush developers. I expect better out of RPS.

  15. Shooop says:

    I’m more impressed at your creative text placement than anything this game and its previous incarnation had to offer.

    While that does seem like setting the bar low, I really am amused and think what you did with it was clever.

  16. Hydrogene says:

    I would love to visit RPS sister site Auk, Sandpiper, Shelduck ! Alas, I can’t find any Snipe Elite review anywhere…

  17. altum videtur says:

    pretty little headshots
    pretty pretty pretty

    One day I’ll see a game where a character gets shot in the head and survives but slowly loses their personality and control over their impulses and eventually ends up locked up and largely forgotten about in some asylum.

    So basically New Vegas.

  18. bp_968 says:

    The photo at the top just really makes me want to buy a authentic period scope for my Enfield #4. What an amazing gun.

  19. SIDD says:

    What the article seems to forget to mention is that the base game only offers 4 rifles, and if you want some of the classic snipers like the Kar98, Mosin -Nagant … (and Springfield 1903?), then you have to spend some extra money on DLCs or season pass…

    That seems pretty low on a game that’s already priced at £40

    In addition (from what I understand) it seems like 2 of those 4 default rifles are the M1 and Gewehr 43 which as far as I am aware have never been considered sniper rifles to begin with?!