Every sequel attempts to improve on the original. It doesn’t happen all the time but simply due to increasingly better technology, it occurs more often in the video game industry (as opposed to film). Developer Rebellion knows what they did wrong with Sniper Elite V2 and have resolved to fix any and all issues with the upcoming Sniper Elite 3. Of course, they’re not aiming for a franchise overhaul or full-on reboot; they simply want to give the player a bigger, better snipe-happy experience. And that’s commendable.
The designers are striving to make everything better. The levels will be bigger, we’ll have more weapons with which to experiment, the multiplayer will be more robust – local co-op play, please! – and perhaps above all else, the AI will be very much improved. This was probably the biggest drawback of the previous entry, as the predictable yet magically brilliant AI made the game wildly frustrating for many players. In V2, once you were spotted, every enemy on the map knew precisely where you were, which is an outdated form of opponent intelligence.
The AI should be much better in the third entry, as their response to your activity will be more dynamic and realistic. Furthermore, they won’t keep firing on a spot you left thirty seconds ago, so they’ll be smarter and yet, not omnipotent. Additionally, the extra weapons and larger levels will infuse a greater sense of freedom. The setting is intriguing: We’ll work our way through war-torn North Africa, a region that never gets a lot of attention in World War II-themed games. Large and airy, these areas will offer the player more opportunity to devise a personalized plan of attack and remember, each stage will be about three times the size of those in its predecessor.
You’ll still be able to tag enemies from afar with your binoculars, which is a big strategic feature. Dealing with each opponent will be more difficult than before and again, this is partly due to the advanced AI. Not only will each foe have his own rank and position, they’ll also sport realistic patrol patterns along with a fresh “suspicious indicator.” This is essential for all stealth games these days; it’s unfortunate we didn’t see it in V2. The cool part is that when alerted, not every enemy will come running; rather, the higher-ups will order some underlings to go check it out.
In turn, this addresses the other issue with the last game: The lack of freedom and decision-making. With greatly improved AI, more weapons, a few extra gameplay mechanics, and much larger levels, more strategy will be required. Do you remain hidden and attempt to avoid all foes, or do you go in guns blazing? Either way, your situation will rely upon your ability to handle the oncoming enemy assault, which will be different depending on your approach. For the silent, stealthy type, they’ll appreciate the addition of a heart-rate monitor: If you’re anxious or breathing heavy, your steadiness will take a hit.
Last but not least is the return of the gory X-ray kill-cam, and this too is more detailed. Before, we’d just see the bullet entering the skeleton. Next time around, not only will there be an “improved bone fracture system,” there will also be a muscle layer and a circulatory system for the bullet to bust through. Even vehicles will take advantage of the slo-mo kill-cam. Combine all this information, and you get the foundation for a promising sequel. Sniper Elite 3 is slated to arrive on the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC in June.
2/24/2014 Ben Dutka