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Sniper Elite III: Ultimate Edition Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Sniper Elite III: Ultimate Edition adds a new three-level campaign that sees players tracking down an assassination plot that threatens Winston Churchill. Although the new content is fun, much of the package remains the same as last year's release. If you missed out on the vanilla version, this Ultimate Edition makes a strong case for the popular franchise. Rating: 71%
Sniper Elite III: Ultimate Edition
Sniper Elite III: Ultimate Edition Sniper Elite III: Ultimate Edition Sniper Elite III: Ultimate Edition Sniper Elite III: Ultimate Edition
  • Review Score:

  • B
I'll admit that I was a little skeptical going into Sniper Elite III. I've never been a big fan of military shooters and I'll often go out of my way to avoid video game sniping. But despite my numerous hang-ups, the ultra-violent sequel instantly won me over and left me eager for more. I guess I wasn't alone, because it didn't take long for 505 Games to come up with new content and release Sniper Elite III: Ultimate Edition.

While fundamentally the same game that was released last year, this Ultimate Edition adds a compelling story that is played across three new stages. We learn through cinemas that there's a plan to assassinate Winston Churchill, and it's up to Officer Karl Fairburne to get to the bottom of the mystery. He does this by sneaking into an army camp in the dead of night, following the leads to the Rif Mountains and blowing up a tank before it rendezvous with Churchill's convoy.

Told from the third-person perspective, this World War II shooter puts a heavy emphasis on sniping and stealth action. Players will need to find the ideal sniping spot and patiently wait for the perfect shot. And if that wasn't enough, we're also asked to factor in the variables, such as wind and bullet drop. It's a process that should leave me ripping my hair out, and yet I had the complete opposite reaction while playing Sniper Elite III.

You may think that the sniping gimmick might be limiting, but that simply isn't the case. The levels are enormous, full of tall sniping points, hidden underground tunnels and multiple paths to every destination. This means that you can mess up a shot and still have an easy time running to safety, ready to try the same shot from a different angle. It gets to the point where you're toying with your prey, coming at them from all sides and striking when they least expect it.

Perhaps it has something to do with the easy sniping mechanic, but I couldn't get enough of the cat and mouse gameplay. Each level is designed to be played multiple times, and it's clear that players can tackle the same objectives in completely different ways. As long as you're not getting caught by the Nazi troops, there's no wrong way to play Sniper Elite III.

While the majority of the game involves sniping, I was surprised that the run and gun option was still viable. Players start each stage with two weapons designed for closer range combat. There's a pistol and assault rifle, both of which come with limited ammo. This is not Gears of War and you cannot rush into battle with a machine gun, your attack plans needs to be strategic. It's easy to get yourself stuck in a situation where soldiers are coming from all sides. This is made worse when you realize just how fragile Karl is.

Sniper Elite III: Ultimate Edition ()Click For the Full Picture Archive

On top of the secondary weapons, our hero has a number of stealth attacks. For example, Karl is able to lay down landmines, which can trip up both soldiers and tanks. He also has a fair amount of grenades and explosives, as well as a rock to distract guards. And much like Naked Snake, this sniper is a master in close-quarters combat.

Sniper Elite III also gives players a chance to customize their loadout, allowing for different types of sniper rifles and secondary guns. There are also collectibles scattered throughout the stages that unlock more equipment. There's more than enough depth for the gun nuts who can't get enough of this era, as well as a novice like myself.

I was impressed by not only the variety of missions, but how each location manages to look and feel completely different. Each stage consists of multiple objectives, including a number of optional missions. For example, you may start out looking to uncover the assassin's plot, but will be asked to find (and then use) the prototype weapon found in the enemy base. In another mission you'll be tasked with destroying a tank, but it will quickly turn into you destroying the whole facility.

Sniper Elite III: Ultimate Edition comes with the eight stages found in last year's release, as well as three additional areas. Each of the eleven stages manages to look completely different, which is no easy feat considering the limited color pallet. To my shock, Rebellion has managed a unique look per stage, switching up the time of day and types of locations. In one stage you'll be sniping on the side of a huge mountain, and yet another stage has players sneaking through enemy camps. The developers use color and lighting in an effective way, and there are moments where I would call this game pretty.

Sniper Elite III: Ultimate Edition ()Click For the Full Picture Archive

Having said that, Sniper Elite III looks like an upscaled PlayStation 3 game. The textures are crisp and everything runs at close to 60 frames per second, but there's nothing here that couldn't be duplicated on the last generation consoles. Between the simple sniping mechanics and the wide-open stages, there's a lot of potential for a truly next-generation sequel, but this isn't it.

Did I mention that Sniper Elite III is as brutally violent as Mortal Kombat? Not content to simply let you take down a Nazi soldier in one shot, the game shows you the bullet's trajectory and what it does to the human body. Framed in glorious slow-motion, we see the bullet rip through the skin, shatter the bones and explode lungs, eyeballs and even the heart. It's gross, and yet also incredibly satisfying.

Gimmicks aside, I was disappointed by the game's bland story. Karl Fairburne is on a mission to stop a secret Nazi weapon, and yet the narrative lacks urgency. There aren't many interesting twists and turns, and the entire story feels like an excuse to take us to different parts of Africa. Big Boss went on the same mission in Metal Gear Solid 3, and I assure you the outcome was much more interesting than the paper-thin story found in Sniper Elite III.

Sniper Elite III: Ultimate Edition ()Click For the Full Picture Archive

And while I enjoyed the large levels and unique missions, I felt like there could be more done with the concept. Even with the optional objectives and different stages, there's still a lot of repetition. The whole thing left me intrigued by the idea of a truly next-generation Sniper Elite game, something that fully delivers on the potential.

Between the stealth action and the simple sniping mechanics, I had no problem jumping back into Sniper Elite III. These three new stages may not be much, but it whet my appetite for a proper sequel. If you missed out on the game the first time around, this Ultimate Edition package offers a lot of quality content for a reasonable price. It still comes up short of its true potential, but Sniper Elite III has a gimmick worth paying attention to.
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