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Review

Sniper Elite III Review

  • First Released Jun 27, 2014
    released
  • Reviewed Jul 9, 2014
  • PS4
Robert Handlery on Google+

Shoot to kill.

GameSpot may get a commission from retail offers.

Whenever I wasn't setting up a shot, emptying my lungs, and pumping a sharp metal bullet through the thick skull of an unsuspecting enemy soldier, I was frustrated with Sniper Elite III. Not because the surrounding mechanics are broken or the levels are poorly structured, as the subsidiary elements of this third-person shooter are, for the most part, serviceable. However, every action building up to you actually pulling the trigger of a rifle feels more like a chore than an interesting setup for the perfect shot. There's an undeniable satisfaction that stems from the glorious slow-motion kills that abound in Sniper Elite III, but missions tend to promote stealthy, silent takedowns rather than the grotesque headshots it does so well.

Fortunately, what the game does best is on full display early on. The level design in Sniper Elite III is more open than previous games in the series, often encouraging shots being fired from more than 300 meters away. Instead of funneling you down a straight path, each of the eight locations in the campaign presents you with a sniping sandbox where creativity leads to better shooting and stronger positioning. Bullishly rushing headfirst into enemy territory is always an option, but the grizzled protagonist crumples to the dirt after just a pair of well-placed shots. Silent steps often lead to better vantage points, and with so many routes to choose from in any given level, the method by which the objective is completed is up to you.

That doesn't make this an open-world game, though. There are various side objectives like shutting down search lights or sabotaging the enemy's explosives supply, but there's still a clear path to completion within every mission. An ever-present objective marker reminds you that just 200 meters away lies a folder of intel that could greatly benefit the Allied forces, and all you need to do to collect it is pick off whatever patrolling soldiers stand in the way.

You're not required to kill everything with a heartbeat in order to progress, but the innate satisfaction that comes with long-range marksmanship is almost too great to pass up. After perching atop a sniper nest and locating a viable target, you have the option of steadying your breath and adding an additional red reticle that illustrates exactly where your bullet will drop. Once you fire off that perfect shot, the camera ignores the man behind the rifle and instead follows the round as it leisurely approaches its mark. It's a remarkable scene that all but erases auxiliary threats, letting you enjoy the slow-motion mayhem. The crack of your barrel will likely alert anything with a heartbeat nearby, but in that very moment, all that matters is the journey of a single bullet.

Be vewwy vewwy quiet.
Be vewwy vewwy quiet.

The finale of the shot is pure, primal bliss. A quick X-ray view of a perfect kill shot often shows the lead splintering both ends of the skull, forcing bits of brain to escape from the newly opened flesh caverns. Eyes pop, lungs burst, and yes, testicles rupture as you pump round after round into the opposition. It's the feature attraction of the series, and it's better than ever. You kill hundreds of unsuspecting enemies in this manner, watching as formerly distinctive faces are violently torn beyond recognition. Turning off the drawn-out animations is an option, but this boorish display of bloody precision is a guilty pleasure.

Regrettably, you're more often faced with tedious stealth sections than the extended sniping segments that make the game so captivating. Levels are littered with soldiers who perk up as soon as you fire off a noisy round, and since you're about as flimsy as any single enemy on screen, clearing the map with a silenced pistol or a quick flip of the knife is often the most intelligent route to success. That's not to say that Sniper Elite III is overly challenging, however. If you take the time to spot and tag enemies before firing, you ensure that you have time to relocate to another vantage point immediately after taking your shot. The game rewards you for relocating successfully, though it's too easy to simply backpedal to an area that you've already cleared and then wait for enemies to cool off. If you prefer to stay put, puttering generators and the timely hum of planes flying overhead can mask the crash of your rifle, but these contrived elements aren't enough to fix the core problem that stifles the fun. Sniper Elite III shines when you're looking through the scope, but there are just too many situations throughout the campaign that encourage close-range monotony over the wildly entertaining sniping.

Alas, poor Yorick!
Alas, poor Yorick!

Slowly creeping from cover to cover to keep your heart rate down isn't exactly a thrill, but the locales you'll explore are at least more colorful and distinctive than what we've seen from the first two entries. The drab browns and grays have been replaced by the lush African theater, where beautiful lighting shines through bright green foliage and the jagged edges of sprawling mountains. It doesn't have the graphical pop that you expect from a current game, but Sniper Elite III still impresses with multihued vistas that appear to stretch for miles.

A handful of difficulty settings extends the life of an otherwise stunted campaign, which features one of the most forgettable World War II narratives in recent memory. The deadly serious dialogue and macho posturing aren't the right matches for the often laughably over-the-top death animations, but the story sequences are sparse enough to ignore. The best commentary will often come from a second player, as the cheers and jeers resulting from a brutal assassination are more interesting than anything an in-game character has to say. It's easy to bring a friend into any of the campaign missions for some backup, and while it can be cumbersome to coordinate shots without alerting the guards, adding a second sniper to the mix creates a whole new set of tactics to consider.

Regrettably, you're more often faced with tedious stealth sections than the extended sniping segments that make the game so captivating.

The co-op offerings extend to an asymmetrical mode called Overwatch, which acts as a wave-based alternative to the campaign. The bulk of the action revolves around spotting and downing as many enemies as possible before either supplies or health are depleted, and since shooting guys in the head is the draw of Sniper Elite III, this additional mode is worth a look. However, completing objectives and coordinating kills with a friend in the campaign is a much more interesting challenge than simply popping off as many rounds as your rifle will allow.

Competitive multiplayer is light on surprise and heavy on disheartening deaths. One of the most frustrating ways to die in any online shooter is a surprise sniper bullet to the head, since it's often a sudden end that makes you feel powerless. Those, by and large, are the only deaths you'll encounter here, and you can expect them early and often. Unique modes like Distance King and No Cross are a welcome change from your basic Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch, as both encourage long-distance shooting over up-close-and-personal encounters. Still, there's nothing within the competitive suite that demanded my attention for more than a round or two of play.

The imperfect crime.
The imperfect crime.

All of this is assuming you'll even be able to connect to an online game. Of the 30 or so times I tried to locate matches, I found my way into just three games. The other 27 times? I either failed to connect before the game even started, disconnected after a single spawn, or crashed to the PlayStation 4's dashboard. Sniper Elite III's multiplayer is unstable at best, with most of my playtime revealing a mostly broken experience.

I often found myself cursing the more frustrating elements of Sniper Elite III. Broken matchmaking, and half-baked stealth sequences shouldn't be this incessant in a series that's just reached its third outing. But it's almost too easy to forget all of these head-scratching issues when that bullet makes contact with someone's cranium. It's a shallow, crude pleasure, but the delightful disorder that's just around every corner is strong enough to overshadow an otherwise forgettable experience.

Back To Top
The Good
Devilishly satisfying slow-mo kills
Level design that encourages creativity
Colorful vistas are impressively improved over previous iterations
The Bad
Dull stealth sequences
Uninspired story
Broken matchmaking
6
Fair
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Josiah Renaudin is a sucker for a good sniping sequence, and has patiently sat atop perches in dozens of shooters to set up the perfect shot. He completed Sniper Elite III's campaign and continuously tried to connect to multiplayer games for the purpose of this review.
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Rowmahn

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Edited By Rowmahn

I, kind of disagree, I suppose.

I started the game using only my sniper on authentic, and I ended the game using only my sniper.

Well, I used the Welrod in a few of the tight spaces and Sten when I was running away or relocation from a red indicator.

There was nothing to it:

Find a perch and tag as many enemies as you can.

Wait for the enemy to stand still.

Prep the shot.

Fire.

Relocate so you can see them behind cover.

Wait for the awareness to time out.

Fire again.

Repeat.

Sometimes you could fire two shots if you were far enough away and just relocate on Yellow. If you did it twice in a row, you got the "Ghost" bonus, which gave extra points for every kill you got after that when the enemy was unaware of you.

With such a large map, with so many things to hind behind and so much brush to move among, I had absolutely no problem using my sniper to take out massive groups of enemies. With aim assist I think it's maybe a joke, but nobody actually uses that mechanic, do they?

Not sure why you feel it was best to walk around stealthily with a Welrod. In fact, I've seen a lot of places say this, I still dont' understand. Well-time shots, constant relocation, and firing under the cover of a loud noise did the trick just fine.

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Gelugon_baat

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The back-and-forth between the protagonist and Herr Vahlen is so corny.

"We are alike." "I am nothing like you."

God-damn, so hackneyed. XP

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Gelugon_baat

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The sound designs and direction are really good. To my ears, they provide adequate tension.

Though maybe not the stabbing noises. With all that unseemly bone-crunching, they sound like they have been recycled from the sniper hit sound clips.

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Gelugon_baat

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I noticed that some guards forget to disengage the safeties on their guns. That's amusing, and believable.

What is not believable though is the amount of fall damage. Just several feet is enough to knock off two-thirds of the protagonist's health - weird. Maybe it was intended to prevent the player from being able to disengage easily, e.g. drop off from rooftop to rooftop, but this is harsh.

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Gelugon_baat

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I am reminded of Brad Shoemaker's exaggerated remarks on "stealth" gameplay: "enemies can't see you when you are crouching".

Even if the player character is out in the open, enemies still take a bit longer to notice the player character when he is crouching than when he is standing.

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Gelugon_baat

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Edited By Gelugon_baat

I have the impression that the game's model designers wanted to put even more muscle on the protagonist, but did not because he wouldn't have looked like a typical sniper otherwise.

Also, have anyone noticed that in just about any game with "stealth" elements, there are almost always two or three idiotic guards who stand with their backs to obvious approaches in the first few scenarios?

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Gelugon_baat

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The game is about sniping and yet the prologue cutscene starts off with the protagonist saying "tanks are king".

I get the impression that the writers for the game aren't very good at making intros to the setting of the game.

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Rob863

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At least it was only $49 new. And there are not near enough games on WWII

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illage2

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I agree with the score on this review. Plus I just didn't have fun playing this game at all.

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Salvations

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One thing I hate about this game is Platinum is tied to MP. So I just rented this game. No point in playing on hardest modes or trying to find all items in the game. Since I play games to get away from humanity, there is no way I will play MP.

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gamergath

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I'd play this game even though from the 6/10 review, just cause its a 3rd person shooter with "SLO-MO BULLET CAM"!

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poweronpub

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@gamergath This is an interesting point and one we unfortunately didn't really get into in our own review (http://www.poweronpub.com/sniper-elite-iii-review/ for those who might want to read it). Many people seem to actually be getting sick of the bullet cam pretty quickly. It is cool for the first few times you see it, but after that I think many people would prefer to do without it.

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ryan_mcgee15

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I bought this game off the psn store on my ps4 and for some reason it won't let me access the multiplayer.. It tells me that this part of the series hasn't been installed yet? Really don't know what to do. Please help.

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PinchySkree

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Overpriced mediocrity.

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RobDev

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"However, every action building up to you actually pulling the trigger of a rifle feels more like a chore than an interesting setup for the perfect shot." is that not the very definition of what a sniper does?

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spacecadet25

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Edited By spacecadet25

I agree with this review. I really loved Sniper Elite V2, totally fun game, I kind of describe it as a "run and gun sniper game." However Sniper Elite 3 is good, but doesn't live up to its predecessor. I hate how stealth is needed but you don't have any rifles with silencers, and the fact that the pistol and machine guns are total crap. It also is stealth-heavy but without an actual cover system.

Making noise then running for cover, rinse and repeat, just isn't cool. The previous game was much better, it didn't try to pretend it was stealth.

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spacecadet25

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Edited By spacecadet25

I have to update this.

WARNING: DO NOT BUY THIS GAME ANYTIME SOON, IT NEEDS SOME SERIOUS PATCHES.

1. I pre-ordered, and it seems if you try to save mid-level while you have any of the DLC weapons equiped (at least the camo ones) if you go back to the game in a later session you'll not actually hold your guns, sometimes you cannot draw your guns at all, etc.

2. If you try to climb a ladder to soon after finishing an objective then you will not be able to climb ladders at all, you have to restart from the last checkpoint. At least every time this has happened to me, I had just finished an objective and tried to climb a ladder.

3. Watch out for your stats re-setting themselves. I've seen other people with that problem too. There's some achievements that require a lot of playing to get, and they're impossible when your stats keep resetting. There's also other achievements that are broken and inconsistent for players.


Bottom line, wait several months, this game needs some serious patchwork. The other stuff I could deal with, but not losing my stats dang it!

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dawg295

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If it was called Call of Duty: Sniper Elite V3 and had an Infinity Ward badge on the cover it would have gotten 9/10

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GameBeaten

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@dawg295 Because the latest Infinity Ward Call of Duty title totally got that rating. /sarcasm

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knixxx

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I've changed my opinion. Gone from a 7.5 to a 6. My bad. I should have waited until I finished the last mission before writing anything. Last mission glitched like crazy. AI running in place, object floating in midair. And then when I did finish the game (PS4 on Sniper Elite), I go to try the multilayer. Disconnected from server, disconnected from server, over and over and over. Got to play one time. Just a shame what this could have been if the company didn't rush this out.

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MooncalfReviews

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One of these days I'm going to get inb4 @Gelugon_baat replies 20 times to every opinion disagreeing with the reviewer's opinion.

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Colekern

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4:22, the game is obviously being played on xbox. Seriously? An A button and Xbox Dashboard? This was pretty obviously not reviewed on PS4 if this is gamespots footage. The description says it was reviewed on PS4, but this is obviously Xbox footage.

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thecman25

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Edited By thecman25

@Colekern well they change from ps4 gameplay to x-bone gameplay

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daikkenaurora12

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@Colekern I noticed that as well.

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pip3dream

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one thing i just think is worth adding is that- if you have a 3DTV, the 3D experience is actually really cool in this game and done very well. I know 3D is a bit of a forgotten trend, but as someone who was really excited about 3D, i still really love when games include 3D as an option for their games. It's few and far between these days, but when it's done well it still can be really immersive and cool.

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niccodemarini

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@pip3dream I've noticed that the 3d games that are meant to be played in 3d are basically no better than the 2d to 3d conversion a 3d tv can do to any other game. Skyrim in 2d to 3d conversion looked way better than batman in 3d and bat man was made to be played In 3d. I don't know its just a weird thing ive noticed.

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Snider83

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I disagree with this review. I had an absolute blast playing through this game. I also on the other hand love both sniping and stealth games, as well as challenging difficulties, so I may be a bit biased though lol. The multiplayer is enjoyable when you can actually find a full game. The problem is that the matchmaking seems to be flawed. I never experience the crashes the reviewer talks about though. Anyone up to play co-op or multi in Xbox One?

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spacecadet25

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@snider83 Have you played the previous game in the series though? I can see why the score would be a bit lower on a decent game if it was a step back from its predecessor.

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ComplacentCouch

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Edited By ComplacentCouch

I feel like they should've gone into the multiplayer a bit more, it is beyond frustrating. It is like Call of Duty but Snipers only, and we all know how annoying Snipers in CoD are.

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Sw33tEscape

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@complacentcouch It's only frustrating when you lose.

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ohjtbehaaave

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If you're into Sniping and stealth style gameplay you'll probably love SE 3 and V2. It's kind of a love it or hate it situation.

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Vallaaskjalf

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@ohjtbehaaave

don't forget v1 - i still have it w/ box and original instructions... system req: 1ghz cpu, 32mb vram, 256 system ram, 4gb hd space, and dx9.0c sound card.. oh, and $9.97 plus shipping.. ha ! !

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haemorrhoid1989

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This review is bullsh*t. GS gave Sniper Elite V2 a 6, and now this gets the same. This improves a LOT over the second, so they should have either given a 4-5 to V2, or a 7-8 to this.

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Leozaur

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@haemorrhoid1989 Maybe, but it does have same core problem: in certain areas enemies won't spawn until you get closer to that area, denying you ability to shoot them from afar. Which, shall we agree, is absolutely ridiculous design for a sniping game?

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haemorrhoid1989

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Edited By haemorrhoid1989

@Leozaur @haemorrhoid1989 That's a point, but maybe I just got lucky, but I didn't experience this issue. And even if I did, the fact that I can stealth myself through the whole game if I want, with decent sound masking and relocating systems, more than makes up for it. In V2 you were done after the first shot, everyone instantly noticed, found, and started firing at you, which killed the game for me. Issues aside, Sniper Elite 3 comes the closest so far to the sniper experience I was looking for

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RickPhoenixxx

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Edited By RickPhoenixxx

So Kevin stood in for a reviewer...how does that even work with a review? Did he read the others review comments or is this Kevin's opinion?
So many new game releases this time of year, i'm sure they are swamped!

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JethroThePoet

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@rickphoenixxx Kevin reads the review from the perspective of the reviewer. Not from his (Kevin) perspective with his own opinions.

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Edited By krashoverride

This game was both amazing and frustrating on Authentic mode...It is the way the game is meant to be played. There are no assists such as spotting or maps, and you really must play as a ghost if you want to survive and complete the missions. Any mistake, leads to death or running fr your life, but the satisfaction of finding the perfect sniping spot and clearing a section is worth the effort.


The difficulty on Authentic is something that most games pass up on these days. My only issue is that the enemies in the levels should have been randomly spawned, rather than spawn at the same area on every play through. SE3 is definitely a step up from V2 and is a great and fun shooter in general. Just wish there were more MP games to get into. Seems like no one is online.
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NoahRoalson

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I completely agree with this review. I got so incredibly bored of V2 I never finished it.

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Poodger

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These games have pretty fantastic multiplayer. I don't think I even touched the campaign mode in V2, I bought the game only for the competitive multiplayer. The game controls very well, and there is just something satisfying to 3rd person shooters like this.

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Snider83

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@Poodger what console? I've loved playing online but have serious trouble finding full games. I can barely ever find more than 2-3 on a team.

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Mantan911

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@snider83 @Poodger Pc master race (let the flame wars begin)

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Edited By strigon04

Aside from a few bugs this game and v2 are both 10 out of 10 in my book, gameplay makes up for lack in story. this is based on what the game is at heart its just a fun snipping stealth game and it delivers. If this kind of game is not your cup of tea then don't play it and say its bad.

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naryanrobinson

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The problem with this franchise really is that it isn't quite a game.

Yes the bits where you're shooting are fun, but you can't make a game out of just that, and all the rest is just filler and fluff. Pretty fluff, but still fluff.

I would recommend anyone to pick this game up in a few months when both the price is $10 less, and it's in a 66% off sale.

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vl4d_l3nin

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Co-op was the only enjoyment I got out of this. Quite boring indeed.

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Talavaj

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Reading about reviewer complaining about stealth and getting shot by snipers in a sniper game made me think this game was not made for him.

SE3 is better than V2 in every aspect and if you like sniping there is really no better option out there.

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Gamer3344

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I rate this review 6/10

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TEFUKAM

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8/10

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VegasAceVII

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Wonderful bargain title, I look forward to the price coming down!

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Gravity_Slave

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Edited By Gravity_Slave

I'm always stand-offish when it comes to games that focus on one specific thing in the military then tackling it as a whole animal.

Anytime I see something with just snipers, just helicopters or just submarines, or just tanks...I have to cringe. Because most of these premises are not enough alone to support a full story with diverse gameplay.

Unless you're an enthusiast, assuming the developers did their homework and got the game right, there's not much desire for the average gamer.

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Sniper Elite III More Info

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  • First Released Jun 27, 2014
    released
    • Nintendo Switch
    • PC
    • + 4 more
    • PlayStation 3
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    Sniper Elite 3 will continue the story of elite OSS sniper Karl Fairburne during World War II.
    7
    Average Rating256 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Sniper Elite III
    Developed by:
    Rebellion
    Published by:
    Rebellion, Five Star Games, 505 Games, Spike Chunsoft
    Genre(s):
    Tactical, Third-Person, Action, Shooter
    Theme(s):
    Historic
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language