The Nintendo Switch version of Sniper Elite 3 Ultimate Edition is the definitive one, thanks to some new features that use the Joy-Cons.
Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition has come to the Nintendo Switch with all of the DLC from the original version of the game and it uses some of the features of the system in order to improve the gameplay and make it even more engaging than it was in the past.
Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition is a third-person shooter set during World War II with a focus on stealth. The player takes on the role of a sniper named Karl Fairburne, who uncovers a Nazi plot to build a superweapon in North Africa. Fairburne must foil the Nazi's plans on his own, relying on covert techniques and sniping in order to gain the upper hand over the superior numbers of the enemy. The story of Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition is as generic as they come for a video game set during World War II and Fairburne is as boring and stoic as a protagonist can get, but the narrative exists as a framework for missions involving open maps and different methods for disposing of enemies.
Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition is composed of missions set on huge maps filled with objectives that the player needs to complete. The player is free to approach these objectives in whatever manner they choose, and that could involve climbing to a high vantage point and picking off enemies one by one with a sniper rifle, sneaking into an area and using stealthy takedowns to eliminate the opposition, or relying on explosives and traps to deal with entire groups of foes. There are also optional objectives that appear during the missions which add to the replayability of each level.
The real star of Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition is the X-Ray kill cam, which debuted in Sniper Elite V2. If the player lands a successful shot with their sniper rifle, a gruesome cutscene shows the bullet moving in slow motion as it cuts a path through the body of the enemy. These violent scenes will likely make the player wince on more than one occasion (especially when a bullet goes through an eye), yet they are always satisfying to see and they provide some of the best moments in the game.
One of the biggest factors that players need to take into account in Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition is sound, as gunfire will draw the attention of enemies. The player is encouraged to use loud noises in the world to mask their shots and this is a clever idea on paper, but it tends to unnecessarily draw out encounters. If there are no sounds to be used for cover, then the game expects the player to take their shot and move to another location before the enemy swarms them. The player will often find themselves spending more time running and sneaking around than engaging the enemy, which wouldn't be much of an issue if the AI wasn't so quick to give up the chase and leave the player to their own devices. It can often feel as if using the silenced pistol or stealth takedowns is the more efficient way to complete missions than actually being a sniper like the game's title suggests.
The developers of Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition did an amazing job with the Switch port and it runs without any issues in handheld mode, turning the game into a worthy portable experience. The best new additions to Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition are the ones provided by the Pro Controller and Joy-Cons, as the game uses HD rumble to great effect. The player can feel Fairburne's heartbeat whenever staring down the scope of a rifle, while the impact of the bullet reverberates through the controller as it rams through the body of the enemy. The HD rumble feature is often an afterthought to third-party developers (and sometimes to Nintendo), but Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition uses it in a way that enhances the best moments of the game. The Nintendo Switch has had a few rough ports during its lifespan (such as Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night and its fake screenshots), but Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition is not one of them.
The other addition that the Pro Controller and Joy-Cons bring is optional support for motion controls. The player can use this whenever they are staring down the scope of their sniper rifle and its effect is subtle, so it can be used to help aim the shot against the target. The motion controls in Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition add an extra layer of immersion and it makes the experience of lining up a perfect headshot all the more satisfying. It should be noted that the Nintendo Switch Lite lacks some features, such as the HD rumble and gyro controls, so these new additions to Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition would be absent on that system.
The story mode in Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition isn't very long, but the amount of content and different methods of completing objectives in each map mean that there are a lot of reasons to replay the campaign maps. There are also several self-contained DLC missions and survival modes to keep the player interested, as well as the ability to play through the existing missions with another player in the local/online co-op mode.
Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition is a well-done port of a game that is fun but flawed in its execution. The new additions in the Nintendo Switch version of Sniper Elite III Ultimate Edition have helped to elevate something that could have been just another third-party port into the definitive version of the game. There are several Sniper Elite projects in development and we can only hope that some of these titles make their way to the Nintendo Switch in the future.
Sniper Elite 3 Ultimate Edition is available for Nintendo Switch on October 1, 2019. A digital copy of the game was provided to Screen Rant for the purposes of this review.