Bottom line: Sniper Elite 3 isn't a bad game, and I quite enjoyed playing it before on other consoles, but the Switch just isn't a good fit, and the experience is somewhat frustrating.
A lesser-seen side of the war
Everything is a muddy shade of yellow
Nearly unplayable in handheld
Lack of sharp details make playing a sniping game remarkably hard
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The race to re-release every single game that has ever existed for the Nintendo Switch rumbles on with the re-release of Sniper Elite 3, a fairly decent action-adventure game with a focus on sniping both through accurately modelled ballistics and an obscene X-ray killcam, showing bones shatter and organs rupture as your bullets pass through them.
Upon its release in 2014, it was generally agreed to be fine by everyone involved. It's a distinctly British-feeling stealth game, full of derring-do and exploding skulls, and there's a certain amount of charm to it. That hasn't changed. However, the re-release for the Nintendo Switch proves that not everything's a perfect candidate for a bit of spit and polish before hawking it on Nintendo's eShop, and even nostalgic fans would be better served by digging into this current-gen title on their own devices than buying this offering.
Sniper Elite 3 Ultimate Edition What I like
In a world full of slick, high-concept stealth games, the Sniper Elite franchise is pleasingly scrappy. WW2-era marksman and super-spy Karl Fairburne traipses around a series of Nazi-occupied locales, killing Nazis and doing secret missions. In Sniper Elite 3, Fairburne packed his summer shooter outfit and headed to Africa to derail the Third Reich's efforts in the continent.
At its heart, Sniper Elite is a series of games about shooting people at long range, and mechanically that's incredibly well served here. Different levels of difficulty will turn on various levels of ballistic accuracy. By the time you've cranked it up, everything from your heart rate and position to bullet drop, wind and even gravity will impact how likely your rounds are to land in flight.
This part of the game is a dream, and although it's gruesome, a killshot showing your round entering someone's noggin or punching through their heart is a reward for getting it right.
The look of the game is great. It's so rare to see the African front of World War 2, and mucking around in the dunes is satisfying. The intricacies of combining a landscape that's largely inky shadows, muddy yellow environments, and soldiers trying to camouflage in those maps make for frustrating gameplay, but we'll get into it later. Aesthetically, the game looks great, although there's a lack of definition, something especially noticeable if the Switch is docked.
The open-world environments are great fun. You're set loose to accomplish your objectives any way you want, and while the game is definitely stronger mechanically when you're sniping with a long rifle, but you can sneak in and do you work with the silenced Welrod and your knife, or even just charge about with a submachine gun and an armful of grenades to cause as much chaos as possible. But the game is so punishing when you break cover, it's unlikely you'll survive long with that last option.
Sniper Elite 3 Ultimate Edition What I don't like
The biggest problems with Sniper Elite 3 come from its integration with the Nintendo Switch. These issues are severe and impact whether this is a good purchase on the platform, especially considering it costs nearly double for the hybrid console as it does for PC, PS4 or Xbox One.
Sniper Elite 3 was a decent game when it launched back in 2014, but now it's a fairly mediocre action-adventure game outside of the sniping aspects of the game. Many of the game's mechanical problems are problems inherent in 2014 gaming, with the enemy AI being slightly wonky, and the game lacking slightly in depth. But it's enjoyable enough.
However, the Switch edition of the game has real problems. The wonderful looking desert I mentioned above? In the Switch's handheld mode, it's too hard to work out who you're shooting at, as camo-clad soldiers and the background melt into one, and I frequently found myself firing rounds based on the enemy icons that spotted enemies have floating above their head.
In docked, I still found it hard to pick up the difference between soldiers and background, particularly during night time missions. There's a lack of clarity that makes it frustrating to engage with the game's best parts.
This is the game's biggest weakness. As I've trod over a few times previously, for a game where the best part of the experience is shooting things in the distance, it's kind of a pain when you can't discern exactly what it is you're aiming at. This is a substantial weakness, and one of my biggest annoyances with the game, enough that it justifies the score nearly entirely, because it brings the whole game down.
Should you buy Sniper Elite 3 Ultimate Edition? No, at least not for the Nintendo Switch
Sniper Elite 3 is a decent, but uninspiring, game. The freedom to scout your objectives and accomplish them any way you see fit is fascinating, and playing it in cooperative mode means there are plenty of options to get the most of the game.
However, the Switch version of the game is disappointing. I've played a lot of FPS games, and consider myself something of a dab hand, but I found trying to shoot any target at range spectacularly difficult, which makes it hard to really appreciate the port. Factor in the "Nintendo Tax" which makes this the most expensive version of the game, and outside of the boon of it being so portable, it's the worst version.
Political power from the barrel of a gun
Shooting Nazis on safari
Sniper Elite 3 is a decent shooter with exceptional sniping, but for Nintendo Switch? This isn't it.
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