Sniper Elite 3 review: sharpshooters get ready

£49.99; 505 Games; Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PC

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The Independent Tech

Sheltering in low-lying foliage, one man crouches and waits patiently. A few seconds later, his unwitting target stops to light a cigarette. The sniper draws his breath. He steadies the crosshair and pulls the trigger. The bullet exits the chamber at a thousand metres per second, yet somehow in slow motion. It whistles through the air and crash lands between the legs of a Nazi grunt, exploding his testicles in glorious X-Ray vision. +10 EXP.

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Set on the North African Front in 1942 as the battle rages for control of the Suez Canal, the Allies face up against a post-Rommel German Army who appear strangely rejuvenated. Once again Karl Fairburne is the dead-eye hero to turn the tide of war against the Axis powers. His every shot seems accompanied by a gory breakdown of tissue and bone as the killing bullet travels through the victim's flesh.

Despite an initial wow factor, the kill-cam carnage eventually wears a little thin, but happily there's a pleasing amount of subtlety to the rest of the proceedings. The higher the difficulty level, the more realistic ballistics come into play as wind direction, strength and bullet drop affect your aim, in addition to the need to keep a closer eye on your heart rate.

Tagging targets with your binoculars allows players to keep track of enemy movements as you creep through camps, looking for intel, ammunition and assassination victims. Using spluttering generators or battlefield noise to mask the sound of gunshots can help evade detection, and landmines are in plentiful supply for laying traps around your snipers nest as you dig into cover and pick soldiers off. On occasions where the alarm is raised and the enemy begins to hunt you down, it takes extreme effort to regain a stealthy footing unless fortuitous terrain allows you to escape their search radius.

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Combat arenas vary from narrow mountain passes to wide open vistas with sand dunes, lakes and marshland to traverse. Although perhaps not as polished as some big-name titles, Sniper Elite 3 is still a good-looking game when the Libyan sunset streams through the camo netting of the army camps, and the amount of detail in environments is impressive. Sonically however, the game seems unusually erratic at times, in particular the sound effect chosen to let players know they have evaded search parties, which actually serves to startle more than relax.

There's lots of potential replay value, with varied paths through each level, customisable loadouts and lots of weaponry to unlock for those with reticle fetishes, as well as hundreds of collectables in the form of Nazi war diaries, ribbons and cards. Online, you can take on fellow sharpshooters, or perhaps more enjoyably, cooperate through the campaign, sowing confusion in the enemy with co-ordinated pincer strikes.

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Early adopters even get the chance to assassinate Charlie Brooker as part of the “Hunt the Grey Wolf” DLC, which features the writer and broadcaster guarding Hitler against your eagle-eyed marksman. Early adopters even get the chance to assassinate Charlie Brooker as part of the “Hunt the Grey Wolf” DLC, which features the writer and broadcaster guarding Hitler against your eagle-eyed marksman.

If you've always fancied yourself as a budding Vasily Zaitsev, but would prefer less physical risk and a sunnier climate in which to indulge your lethal long-range passions, then Sniper Elite 3 should be in your sights.

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