Unfortunately, this neat gameplay system is frequently undermined by technical issues. Enemies are either super-humans, able spot you around corners and shoot you through cover, or they’re completely oblivious to the fact that you just took out their buddy standing not six inches away. Certain areas are plagued with slowdown, and texture pop-in pervades the entire experience, whether you’re zooming in with your binoculars, or simply whipping the camera around too fast. And whether you’re throwing grenades or searching fallen soldiers for scraps, the overall experience just feels too imprecise--especially when it hangs its hat on a profession that requires expert precision.
The story is also nothing to write home about either. Sniper Elite follows series commando Karl Fairburne as he head-shots his way across the various theaters of World War 2. This time, he’s made his way to the hot, sand-swept deserts of Northern Africa. His task: to stop the evil General Vahlen and his experimental tank factory at all costs. It’s clichéd even by war story standards, and it’s served even worse by the distance Sniper Elite 3 puts between you and the events that unfold. Karl speaks with a total of two characters during the entire campaign (I didn’t even know his name until I looked it up), and outside of one or two missions, he’s basically a lone wolf, skulking through the shadows. It makes sense, given his profession and all, but the narrative is missing that human element that make good war stories great.
On top of that, all of the cutscenes are still images accompanied by Karl’s stoic narration. Names and places are dropped like dimes, but without much context, and each mission feels disjointed, seemingly existing for its own sake. Karl sneaks his way through eight interchangeable military bases, forts, and nondescript bombed-out villages as he partakes in generic war-themed objectives--kill the General and grab his intel, plant the charges and blow up the base, destroy the anti-air weaponry, and so on. Its tan and bright yellow color palette is certainly refreshing, especially when held up against its contemporaries, but ultimately the locales of Sniper Elite 3 lack any distinct personality--just like its protagonist.
Sniper Elite 3 certainly has its share of thrilling moments, whether you’re hunting blissfully unaware soldiers or being tracked by countersnipers in ghillie suits, but there are too many technical and narrative issues to simply ignore. In a world overflowing with military shooters, it takes more than an over-the-top kill-cam and a few neat ideas to shoot through the competition.