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Game Reviews: A Historical Look At Sniper Elite III

by Patrick Feng

The role of the lone sniper is one of the most popular classes for many gamers and first-person shooter enthusiasts, mainly for the thrill of achieving that perfect headshot and perfecting the art of one shot, one kill. The portrayal of snipers in popular media such as movies, video games, and literature focuses on stealthy, high-adrenaline situations, leaving consumers on the edge of their seats. Movies such as Enemy at the Gates and the anticipated title American Sniper in 2015, an on-screen adaptation of former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s autobiography, represent the on-going public fascination with the lone-wolf theme of snipers.

The Sniper Elite series is one of those games where the sniper plays the primary role in special operations behind enemy lines, in most cases by themselves receiving little or no support from other friendly forces. Developed by Rebellion studio and 505 Games, Sniper Elite III features a whole new array of missions and expansive environments, allowing players greater freedom in making different choices in how to complete objectives. The game will also contain a few new and revamped gameplay mechanics, such as the vehicle kill-cam along with a more detailed human x-ray kill-cam, giving players a grittier picture on how kill shots affect certain aspects of the human body upon bullet penetration. In addition to the single-player campaign, the game will also feature a co-op as well as competitive multiplayer.

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In the Thick of the Allied Campaign

Set in the desert sands of North Africa in 1942 during the height of the Allied campaign to dislodge the German Afrika Korps from the region, Sniper Elite III puts players in the shoes of American OSS agent Karl Fairburne, who was deployed to the theater to provide intelligence support for Allied operations. While on assignment, Karl learns of a secret “wonder weapon” tank program, which has the potential to crush any Allied force in its path and turn the tide of the war.

Although Sniper Elite III is not noted particularly for its historical accuracy with regards to recreating actual events in World War II, the game emphasizes historical accuracy in the visuals and mechanics such as weapons handling, vehicles of the period, as well as uniforms. In the third installment of the series, the developers brought on a former British Army soldier as a military consultant, who is an expert on sniper training, tactics and fighting in conditions similar to the North African desert in World War II. The consultant noted that the terrain of North Africa was one of the most challenging for snipers. For instance, the hot weather conditions played havoc with sniping accuracy.

Most notably, the gameplay mechanics in Sniper Elite III will be focusing on the intricacies of sniper operations, including using stealth to find suitable locations and relocating your position after a shot is taken, scanning for targets and opportunities, accounting for bullet drop, as well as the small details such as emptying lungs before taking a shot. Sniper Elite III looks to provide the realistic conditions of sniping in World War II North Africa, while providing explosive action-oriented effects that are closer to big-screen cinema than historical realism.