Sniper games have always held a certain fascination for me, the glorifying feeling of taking a soldier out from a great distance never gets old for me and the Sniper Elite series is admittedly my favourite among these games. Recently the series has extended onto the new generation of consoles in the form of Sniper Elite III from Rebellion and 505 Games. The major attraction for me, and so many more players of this series, is definitely the X-ray kill cam. There is nothing more gratifying than lining up a long shot, holding your rifle steady as you breath slowly, sweat gently rippling down your forehead as you squeeze the trigger releasing the bullet from it’s shiny casing. Then watching that bullet as it cuts through the thick heat of the air until it comes into contact with your target, penetrating the outer layer of skin to smash through his bone and rip open his internal organs like a hot knife through butter, exiting the other side in a plume of shattered bone and blood, and watch him fall, dead while still looking through the scope of your rifle. What could be more satisfying than that?.

Sniper Elite III takes you away from the bombed out city scape that Sniper Elite V2 was held in for a more open and less sheltered desert type environment of Africa. Probably not the ideal environment you would choose if you were a sniper, with searing heat, little cover or shade, wide open spaces to cross, and sound that echoes for miles across the sand. Gone are the linear maps of old for a completely welcome open playing field with multiple ways in which to approach each of the eight main missions in the game. Sniper Elite III handles this new playing field with a certain flair, the maps are expansive and extremely well designed, giving you plenty of cover in the form of vehicles, soldier encampments, and rocky outcrops. There have been multiple missions I’ve tried on different difficulty settings and each time I have approached it I found new ways to complete the objective, whether that was a tunnel, a new path or even a sniper roost you missed the first time round. All of this makes you think more about your surroundings and your style of play as it encourages you to explore all the options and not just run and gun your way through the missions. All of the missions include secondary objectives to complete where you will have to take out their fuel, guns, or higher ranking officers to gather intelligence. These objectives make the missions more interesting and realistic as you receive further orders in the field.

Sniper Elite’s problems have never been in the actual sniping itself, more in what surrounded that aspect. One of which was the linear nature of the missions. Rebellion have overcome this and managed to deliver a beautifully rendered environment with stunning lighting effects, and weather that can been seen far off in the distant sky. However, some issues still exist and they mainly pertain to the AI and they way in which it reacts. If you have such a brilliant and graphic way of showing off the kill in the form of the X-ray cam then you should definitely have those corpses act in a respective way. Unfortunately this is not so, after you make that dramatic, endorphin filled kill it’s sad to see your dead enemy getting stuck in mid air flailing around like he is having a major fit, or even getting stuck in the wall of the building behind. Even more of the AI’s stupid and dim-witted attitude can be seen when they go from being on alert and hiding behind cover, to gladly standing up and ignoring the bodies of their fallen comrades once the all clear sounds on your HUD. At first I found the stealth kills enjoyable and meaty, only again to be destroyed by the ragdoll nature of the corpse. Thankfully this game is called Sniper, because the further away you stray from this mechanic the weaker it becomes.

As for a story there is not much in Sniper Elite III, you are on the trail of a brutal Nazi, one that even his own kind fear. As usual you are a husky voiced American willing to do the job. To be honest, who really cares? You get to kill Nazis with a sniper rifle from great distances, and even get to watch as it grinds through their testicles. Who the hell cares about how good the story is, right? Levelling up and gaining XP is a way of unlocking upgrades for your weapons as well as unlocking new more powerful weapons and ammo. This can also be done in the multiplayer section of the game. Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch are decent enough, with the sniper gameplay changing the traditional pace and the new maps are definitely more suited to multiplayer games. Distance King and its team variant are what you would expect from the title, awarding players not for kills but for the combined distance the bullets have travelled in order to do so. No Cross keeps teams completely separate, forcing players to concentrate solely on sniping rather than traps or close-quarter kills. Overwatch has also returned from the previous title allowing you to team up with a spotter and complete the missions available, which is only two at the moment. The new maps really come into their own here allowing you both to split up properly and approach the problem in a variety of ways.

Sniper Elite III has definitely made strides in becoming a great franchise, despite still having some of the old problems associated with the series. Graphically it’s definitely an improvement with longer kills much more likely to succeed from the higher resolution. That graphically gruesome kill cam still remains the major draw of the game, but if the AI and physics were addressed in future releases I have no doubt this game would rocket to greatness, having no equal. For me Sniper Elite III has only reinforced my love of this series. It’s obvious that the developers are improving this series with every release, and I have no doubt that they will get it perfect in the future, for now Sniper Elite III is definitely the best so far by miles.