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Sniper Elite 3 Review

Regarding the latter, Sniper Elite 3 builds a surprising amount of variety into what is notionally a very static activity (I'm aware "activity" is not the best word to describe blasting an unsuspecting person's brains out of their eye-sockets from a distant hilltop, but "pastime" and "hobby" were even less appropriate, so...) You can climb into the "Sniper Nests" dotted around the map and bring death from above, time your shots to be covered by the noise of passing planes or malfunctioning machinery, or adopt a shoot and relocate strategy, vanishing into the desert haze like a Bedouin Batman.

Sniper Elite 3 Review

Design-wise Sniper Elite 3 is leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor. Unfortunately, the technological framework is broadly unchanged, and this means some of the same problems are carried over. In particular, the AI isn't built to cope with the wider levels. An enemy's field of vision is more like a corridor - they can see you from quite a distance, but only if you're stood straight ahead of them. Even then, only on the hardest difficulty do they present much of a challenge to stealthy snipers.

Furthermore, their behaviour hasn't been sufficiently tweaked to match with your more hunter-ish role. It's impressive at first. On hearing your first shot, they'll dive into cover. Fire a second without relocating, and they'll begin to search for you. Loose a third, and they'll home in on your position and attack. But it soon becomes apparent that once you've "relocated" (which usually means running thirty metres to your left before returning to your original position) your quarry eventually carry on as if nothing has happened, which appears very bizarre. "Oh, Hans is dangling off the fortifications with his lungs hanging out again. Ha ha ha! What a card!"

Sniper Elite 3 Review

To be fair, this is an age-old problem with stealth games. But it's particularly pronounced in Sniper Elite, as there are only so many times you can ignore the crack of a rifle and the growing number of corpses around you before the situation becomes absurd. The Batman games found a way to alleviate this, with enemies growing increasingly twitchy every time an ally was knocked out. Eventually they'd be jumping at shadows. Hell, they'd be shooting at shadows. This would work even better in Sniper Elite, because you could use an enemy's panicked gunfire to mask the noise of your own shots.

Aside from the AI, taken as a whole Sniper Elite still feels a little clunky. Stealth is functional if not exactly slick. If you get spotted, however, your best option is to run and hide, as the controls are simply too clumsy to enact an aggressive defence using machine-guns and grenades. You can of course set booby traps such as trip-mines to take care of inquisitive soldiers, but this only works for the first nosey parker, as when they attack they tend to do so en masse.

Sniper Elite 3 Review

If you're not one for the lone-wolf lifestyle, Sniper Elite III also provides a respectable multiplayer offering. There's standard deathmatch and team-deathmatch, which support sixteen players on a map. Although frankly, Sniper Elite is one of the few multiplayer shooters that benefits from a small number of players. Sniper duels should be tense and personal. With larger numbers it becomes confused and farcical. If you want to have your cake and eat it, there's always the "No Crossing" mode, which separates the two teams by some geographical impasse, forcing all players to act the sniper.

Accompanying the competitive multiplayer are a couple of cooperative options. You can play the entire campaign with a friend, which fits nicely with those open missions, and there are two specially designed levels that see one play acting as sniper and the other as an overhead spotter. Again, neat little idea, but those two maps won't last you very long.

Sniper Elite 3 Review

Unlike its protagonist, Sniper Elite 3 is a pleasant surprise in a summer that's pretty bereft of major releases. If your only interest in the game is to see the effect bullets have on the arrangement of a person's internal organs, then it still provides that grisly spectacle in spades. But this time around there's much more to it than that. Still not quite as much as we'd like, granted, but as slowly and inevitably as one of its bullet-tracking shots, Sniper Elite is definitely getting there.

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