Review: Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition (PS4)

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Title: Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (27.5 GB)
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: Rebellion Developments
Original MSRP: $39.99
ESRB Rating: M
Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition is also available on PlayStation 3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Possibly the most incredible achievement in military sniper history goes to Finnish soldier, Simo Hayha, who earned the nickname “The White Death” because of his 500+ kills of Russian soldiers while defending his homeland during World War II. Donning winter camo, Hayha would carry minimal supplies while enduring temperatures that dipped below -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Even more amazing is that “The White Death” was known to use only his iron sights and fill his mouth with snow so that scope glare and the heat of his breath would not compromise his location.

Releasing on the heels of the blockbuster hit American Sniper, with amazing lore like the story of “The White Death” as influence, and the inclusion of all DLC since the game originally released in June 2014, Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition has all the makings of a game that will give players the feeling of infinite bad-assery.

Gameplay:
You play as a somewhat forgettable, smoky-voiced American soldier during WWII whose tone is somewhere in between Christian Bale’s Batman and the narrator of Twisted Metal matches. In total, you are offered eleven campaign missions (eight in the core game and three as included DLC). Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition is, at its core, a purist’s stealth game as it is refreshingly unapologetic for demanding the player’s patience and disallowing the run-and-gun approach.

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The huge maps that will become your military playgrounds can seem overwhelming at first but I noticed that a lot of digital illusion is used in creating a false sense of landmass. These seemingly unmanageable areas are downsized by inaccessible mountain ranges and bodies of water. There is however plenty to explore while the slow pace, player creativity, and choice of approach can extend each mission past the one-hour mark.

After selecting your loadout the primary objectives are clear and simple to follow but, even on the easiest difficulty, aren’t executed smoothly without practice. Enemy AI continues to improve and this game is further evidence of this evolution. Don’t expect to run across a vacant bridge in broad daylight because the enemies overseeing it from nearby cliffs are too far away. The circle that indicates your visibility tends to fill quickly when in sight. After an alert, the enemies will however forget that you ever tried infiltrating their camp as long as you “relocate” at least fifty-five meters from your last known position.

… muffle your shots and keep your enemy guessing …
As you creep around the terrain checking off objectives, sabotaging equipment, and stealth killing enemies either with melee takedowns, silenced pistol shots, or long-range sniping, there are plenty of collectables to find and a slew of variables that will influence your mission’s overall score.

The most satisfying, fleshed out, and enjoyable mechanic in this game is, as its title suggests, the sniping. After combing through the map for the most optimal stealth route to the nearest sniper nest, I go prone, use my binoculars to tag my target, and I begin to line up my shot. I zoom in, empty my lungs to steady the scope wobble, verify that my heart rate is optimal for an effective shot, and wait for a plane to pass overhead to mask the sound of my fire. With all these stars aligned, a climactic pull of the R2 trigger delivers the killing blow. All of the tropes of sniper lore, over-the-top action flicks, and a 13-year-old’s obsession with violence culminate as the slow motion camera follows your bullet on its path to puncture organs, sever spinal cords, and shatter skulls. You get a front row, x-ray vision view of your handy work that I personally never grew tired of.

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Visuals:
I hate to further stabilize the collapsing boundary between the $60 games and the “budget” titles, but the visuals of Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition scream Triple-A. The shadows created by the sunlight passing through the jagged canyons are breathtaking. A meter lets you know how visible you are but because of the attention to detail it isn’t needed. The lighting indicates exactly how shrouded you are while both the day and night missions are handled with equal expertise.

… Don’t expect to sprint around like a madman …
Audio:
Masking your shots with environmental noise is an essential part of the game when trying to remain hidden. I have not unlocked a silenced sniper rifle or anything of the sort and I don’t imagine one is available. You can use the enemy mortar fire, overhead planes, or sabotaged generators to muffle your shots and keep your enemy guessing. You are able to shoot without any noise pollution but that will require you to relocate after the ruckus. Enemy soldiers have proper accents and speak in their native tongue while the protagonist’s voice is a bit common and in line with dude-bro expectations but it’s memorable nonetheless.

The rest of your artillery set is also accurately represented by the impact and surprise of the sound produced. Enemies react accordingly and there is something rewarding about creeping around, moving very slowly in order to keep the lowest profile possible before the big moment when you let loose. The explosions of the well hidden landmines you’ve placed and the boom of the engine block you’ve destroyed with carefully placed sniper fire is an awesome payoff for the patience.

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Online/Multiplayer:
A number of different modes are included in the multiplayer suite of Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition. The feeling of getting off that perfect shot in the campaign is matched only by the impending doom of possibly being in the enemies crosshairs. I found myself crawling, crouching, and ducking for precious cover while navigating the huge terrain, uncertain about every step and breath I took.

Staying true to its vision, exhibiting virtuous patience, calm nerves, and skillful aiming is the key to competitive success in this game. Don’t expect to sprint around like a madman and respawn every thirty seconds. Options allow for plenty of match customization as players can play team modes or embrace the idea of every man for himself. For the hardcore purist, there’s a mode that places a canyon between opposing forces so that sniping and sniping alone is the sole path to victory. Each campaign mission can also be played in co-op.

Conclusion:
Sniper Elite III was already an awesome game before this Ultimate Edition added some sweet extras. Rather than focusing on accessibility for fans of the twitchy FPS games, this title sets itself apart to deliver a fun, challenging, and satisfying militarized stealth experience set in the ominous atmosphere of WWII. Destroying the weapon cache of the opposing forces unnoticed, absconding with valuable intel, and putting well-placed bullets through various parts of the enemy’s anatomy creates an overall experience that differs, in a good way, from your average third person shooter.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Emrah Rakiposki

Emrah Rakiposki

– Food
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It has been my life’s work to properly order the list of this world’s greatest pleasures. There is no right answer.

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