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Video Game / Sniper Elite III

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"Equipped with Tiger tanks and the latest weaponry, Germany’s infamous Afrika Korps have the Allies outnumbered and outgunned. Worse still, intelligence indicates the Nazis are developing a super weapon in Africa that could destroy all hopes of victory not just in Africa, but in the whole war."
It must end here. You are the turning point. Because one bullet can change history..."
Official description on Rebellion's website
Observe, Plan, Execute, ADAPT

The third game in the Sniper Elite series, a prequel set during the campaigns in Africa, chronologically before the fall of the Nazis in Sniper Elite V2. You are again Karl Fairburne, an SOE officer who is sent in to deal with Nazi Wunderwaffe or Wonder Weapons. The location is various parts of Africa as Karl does his best to help turn the tide against the Nazis in favour of the Allies.

The game is aimed at being more like the original Sniper Elite, with the more open environments allowing the player to approach their targets with more flexibility as well as possibly putting them in assorted and potentially hazardous situations. The player may also find new solutions to each objective as they stalk around the enemy territory.

The core sniping mechanic is still effectively unchanged in this game but other changes were made or added to the other aspects of the game.

A more detailed kill cam incorporating a new muscle and circulatory system layers, dynamic bone fractures, and a detailed vehicle kill cam add new levels of spectacle to the game. A new variety of tricks that the player can use to distract the enemy or hide their presence are made available to the player. These tricks include starting small fires and sabotaging enemy equipment so that it produces more noise to mask the player's shots. The classic rock throwing distraction is still available.

A brand new feature added to this game is the relocation mechanic. After the player fires a shot they need to relocate or risk being found. The enemy immediately reacts to sniper fire now and heads for cover and then begin searching for the player. Repeated shots from the same location will help the enemy locate the player and they will then try to flush the player out or corner and kill them. If the player relocates successfully the enemy will eventually give up on the search allowing the player to once again more freely stalk the enemy.

Other changes to features include how the enemy infantry and vehicles react and pursue the player. The enemies now more intelligently use cover, suppressing fire, and the general environment against the player. Vehicles have expanded mechanics regarding weak spots, but they are more difficult to take out, forcing the player to use a variety of tactics including mines, explosives, anti-tank weapons, or carefully-placed shots at these weak spots to take them out; in addition, compared to the vast majority of vehicles being static in the previous game, here none of them are, and they will actively hunt the player or even just patrol an area in the same manner as infantry.

A new Experience Point system mechanic has been introduced that allows the player to customize their gear, including individual upgrades to your rifle's scope, muzzle, stock and action, each of which upgrades its performance in one area but negatively impacts its performance in another (e.g. a flash hider that softens the recoil, but lowers muzzle velocity). The experience points can be earned in both single player and multiplayer and carry over between the modes.

    List of Post-Launch DLC 
  • Target Hitler: Hunt the Grey Wolf: A mission that involves hunting Hitler... or what may possibly be his body double. It is never verified in the mission which it is for certain. This was a pre-order bonus, but like the "Kill Hitler" pre-order mission for V2, it was later released as DLC.
  • Save Churchill: A three-part DLC which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin - a mission to save Winston Churchill.
  • Hunter Weapons Pack: It includes the Soviet SVT rifle, the M1897 trench gun, and the M1917 revolver.
  • Eastern Front Weapons Pack: Adds the Mosin-Nagant rifle, the Blyskawica SMG, and the Tokarev TT-33 pistol.
  • Axis Weapons Pack: Adds the Japanese Arisaka Type 99 rifle, the Italian Beretta Model 38 SMG, and the German Walther P38 pistol.
  • Patriot Weapons Pack: Adds the Springfield M1903 rifle, M3 Grease Gun SMG, and M1911A1 pistol.
  • Sniper Rifles Pack: Adds the Kar98k, tuned Springfield, and M1917 Enfield sniper rifles.
  • Camouflage Weapons Pack: Adds a cloth-wrapped Mosin-Nagant rifle, camo-pattern StG 44, and silenced Hi-Standard HDM pistol.
  • U.S. Camouflage Rifles Pack: Adds camouflaged versions of the default M1 Garand, the Springfield, and the M1917 Enfield rifles.
  • International Camouflage Rifles Pack: Adds camouflaged versions of the Lee-Enfield, Kar98k, and SVT-40 rifles.
  • Allied Reinforcements Outfit Pack: Allows the player to use an "Allied Sniper", "Indian Army Marksman", or "GI Sniper" model in competitive multiplayer modes.

The game got a sequel; Sniper Elite 4, set not too long after in Italia. Another sequel, Sniper Elite 5, was announced in December 2021, set for a 2022 release.

This game provides trope examples of:

  • Accidental Aiming Skills: Due to the identical shooting mechanics to the previous games this remains very similar. Players' shots may go wide with unexpected outcomes including killing a different enemy or striking an explosive item setting it off.
  • Ambition Is Evil: In several diary entries and reports made by German and Italian soldiers, Vahlen's ambitions relating to Project Seuche are tremendous. So much so, he eventually plans on backstabbing Rommel, the German High Command, and even Hitler himself once victory in North Africa is assured with his project.
  • Anachronism Stew: Quite a number of weapons and vehicles appear too early for certain portions of the North African campaign.
    • The Gewehr 43 used by both German snipers and the player wasn't deployed until 1943, a full year after the timeframe of the game's early missions.
    • The M1D Garand used by Karl Fairburne wasn't developed until after World War II, and even the earlier M1C didn't enter service until 1944.
    • The Panzerschreck didn't enter service until around early-mid 1943, making its appearance in early missions anachhronistic.
    • The M3 Grease Gun and MP44 usable through Downloadable Content weren't in common use until 1944.
    • The Sten Mk. II and M1 Thompson didn't enter production and service until late 1942, so for the first two or so missions their appearances are anachronistic.
    • Tiger I tanks are shown assaulting Tobruk in June 1942, when in reality the first unit equipped with Tigers to reach North Africa didn't arrive until that November.
  • Arc Villain: Lt. Col Raubvogel, the commander of the elite Schutzvollstrecker unit, is the main antagonist of the Save Churchill DLC missions.
  • Arrow Cam:
    • Just like the previous game you get to follow the bullet as it smashes into your enemies and destroys internal organs and bones. Only this time there is increased level of detail such as new muscle and circulatory system layers and inclusion of dynamic bone destruction from bullet impact.
    • A new addition is a kill cam view for vehicles which includes the same level of detail as the shots on the enemy infantry.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: In the Save Churchill DLC, Lt. Col. Raubvogel is the commander of the elite Schutzvollstrecker unit, and is a very proficient Cold Sniper to boot.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: As menacing as the Landkreuzer P.1000 Ratte is on paper, it takes an awful lot of resources, men, and time to build. As shown throughout the story, even after months of planning and building, the project still isn't finished, even as Vahlen is ordering his men to work around the clock and cutting corners.
  • Bad Boss: Vahlen is known for having a Hair-Trigger Temper, and summarily executes several of his men in brutal fashion, sometimes for simply complaining about the bad working conditions in the facilities they're in.
  • Benevolent Architecture: Assorted bits of natural rock, conveniently placed enemy supplies, and sometimes overly convenient landscape features provide players with an advantage.
  • Big Bad: General Franz Vahlen is a high-ranking officer in the Afrika Korps, and the brains behind Project Seuche, a top-secret project for the German Army intent on helping to win the war in the Axis favor.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Additional details were added to gore mechanics including new layers of tissue and dynamic bone destruction from bullets. New sounds were also made to accompany the new effects. See Also Arrow Cam.
  • Booby Trap: Along with the trip mines, regular mines, and explosives the player can now also deliberately lure enemies with distractions into booby traps.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Now with a more detailed gore mechanic including dynamic bone destruction. New sound effects were generated for the game to add to the visceral effect. The head shot is again the sweet shot of the sniper adding more xp for head shot kills. It is also a guaranteed kill shot every time.
  • Bullet Time:
    • When making a kill shot at a certain distance and/or difficulty you will get bullet Arrow Cam effect.
    • There is a focus mode where if the character's heartbeat is low enough it will slow time down making it easier to target fast enemies and take more difficult shots.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Inverted with Karl Fairburne. As he states to Vahlen at the end of the game, he makes it a point to remember who exactly he kills.
  • Cold Sniper: Karl Fairburne, as always, is extremely unemotional and cold-blooded, almost behaving like a robot. Except for when his friend Brauer gets blown up by a Tiger tank, which is the only time in the entire series he displays emotion. Likewise, the German snipers you encounter throughout the game do not emote or say anything.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: On consoles, you equip and unequip the binoculars by clicking the right thumb stick, and stand or crouch by pressing Circle/B. On consoles, you also use Circle/B to quit or go back in menus and suchlike. If you try to "quit" the binoculars by pressing pressing Circle/B, this can lead to standing up at inopportune moments.
  • Desert Warfare: The entire campaign takes place in North Africa, one of the most famous recent examples of this trope.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: The Welrod is your first pistol, and is a silenced pistol with a One-Hit Kill ability. Awesome! However, it's rather weak, so that one hit has to be a headshot, and it has a low firing rate, so you have to get the shot right first time. This isn't too hard if the target is obligingly standing still, but becomes rather more challenging if he starts moving around.
  • Downer Beginning: The game begins during the second Siege of Tobruk, which, despite Karl's best efforts at halting the advance by knocking out the Germans' artillery, ultimately amount to nothing when the Germans send in their tanks and overwhelm the city's defenders.
  • Driven to Suicide: Implied. In mission 2, you find a note written by a German officer talking about how Vahlen had ordered him to kill a fellow officer because he had a negative attitude. The officer says he will follow the order because, while he is perfectly willing to risk his own life by refusing the order, he knows Vahlen will go after his family as well. He ends the note by saying that he will carry out the order when the other officer arrives, but won't be party to killing anymore of his own men. You find the note next to the dead bodies of two dead German officers, one of whom has a pistol by his side, with the blood splatter behind him indicating he shot himself.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Brauer, Fairburne's SOE informant buddy, is suddenly killed late in the campaign when a Tiger I fires on the building he's spotting targets from.
  • Elite Mooks:
    • Both the Germans and Italians have elite Airborne infantry, who are much better trained and durable than their regular infantry counterparts. In addition, an elite version of the Cold Sniper also exists, wearing desert camouflage over their uniforms.
    • In the Save Churchill DLC missions, there's the Schutzvollstrecker unit, an elite German Army unit armed with prototype weaponry.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: As the campaign progresses, several German and Italian soldiers and officers begin speaking out against Vahlen and his increasingly questionable actions, with some even betraying him and intending on reporting him to Field Marshall Rommel, the German High Command in Berlin, and even Hitler himself.
  • Exploding Barrels: Explosive barrels, fuel cans, and scattered explosive munitions for various forms of artillery. The obvious clue is they are red or have a red part. There are also large exploding fuel drums that can be found in various depots. They can also be set off by setting a distraction fire by the red barrels or munition piles.
  • Faux Affably Evil: When Karl and Vahlen finally meet face to face, the latter is nothing but cordial and respectful towards the sniper, despite him being responsible for derailing his secret operations in Africa. He tries to stress that he and Karl are the same as they both enjoy their work. Karl has absolutely none of it. Of course, reading Vahlen's diary entries and the actions of several of his subordiantes in previous levels show that this politeness is all an act, as Vahlen is already revealed to be a Bad Boss who regularly executes subordinates for even the pettiest of reasons, as well as being a Rogue Soldier to his own government, with delusions of conquest that he could overthrow Rommel and Hitler with his own wonder weapon project.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Being a prequel set three years before Sniper Elite V2, it's already going to be a given that Karl will survive the North African campaign. Also, Project Seuche will inevitably fail given that the Germans and Italians will lose the aforementioned campaign in May 1943.
    • In the Save Churchill DLC, it's a foregone conclusion going in that Winston Churchill will survive, as he was most definitely not assassinated by the Germans in 1942.
  • Foreshadowing: Several German propaganda posters can be seen in the early levels depicting a large twin-turret tank. This turns out to be what Project Seuche is later on, specifically the construction and intended deployment of the Landkreuzer P.1000 Ratte.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: In his opening monologue, Karl remarks that the other Allied soldiers are uncomfortable around him. He doesn't mind.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Groin shots are a lethal hit and legitimate shot for killing enemy troops. If you use focus mode the game will give you a slo-mo of the carnage.
    • Yes you can shoot Hitler in the nuts and if he has two, it's a body double.
  • Hand Guns: Handguns are present in the game again with the player at least being able to select the Welrod silenced pistol and additional side arms as they progress.
  • Harder Than Hard: Difficulty levels are Cadet, Marksman, Sniper Elite and Authentic. Authentic has the description "Only sniping purists and masochists are welcome. No saving allowed."
  • Historical Domain Character: Winston Churchill is central in the Save Churchill Downloadable Content missions, where he is the target of en elite German Army unit tasked with assassinating him.
  • Hollywood Silencer: The Welrod is again a small chuff rather then the door slam it has in reality. DLC gives you a suppressed semi-automatic, the HDM, which for some reason is as silent as the Welrod, despite being semi-automatic and therefore having a noisy cycle.
  • Immune to Bullets: Not as drastic as the last game. The vehicles have an array of weak points that can be now targeted that can possibly destroy the vehicles. Hits in other places will do next to nothing.
  • Improperly Placed Firearms: The Arisaka, obtainable by DLC, is a Japanese rifle, and therefore very much out of place in the game, especially since the Japanese never reached Africa during the war. Not that they didn't want to, it's just that they had all those pesky British and Indians in the way...
  • Insane Admiral: General Franz Vahlen is really intent on defeating the allies with his top secret weapons project. So much so, he cuts corners, rushes production by any means, and even executes his own men when they even slightly slack off.
  • Lead the Target: Due to the shooting mechanics targets on the move need a lead based on range and speed of the target. These can be the most difficult shots to pull off.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: If you kill Hitler in the "Hunt The Grey Wolf" DLC and reload your save (presumbably to get the other Hitler-related trophies in one play through), Karl will remark something like "this feels like deja vu".
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Stated by name as the third optional objective in the "Siwa Oasis" mission, where you have the option of taking out your target in such a way that it looks like an accident and not an Allied sniper. You do it by letting him move through the town until he stands near some explosives, then shoot them to set them off, knocking out a nearby tower and dropping it on his body.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The main opponent of the "Save Churchill" DLC is an enemy sniper who wears a metal mask and who leads a sniper team that also wear masks.
  • The Mole: Brauer is a British informant tasked with infiltrating Vahlen's inner circle. However, before he can gather all intel on Project Seuche, his cover is blown and Karl is tasked with rescuing him before he is shipped off to Berlin or executed.
  • Moe Greene Special: Eyes can be deliberately targeted with a gory display of the eye being mangled and popped by the bullet.
  • Mooks: The various Nazi troops that are part of the Afrika Corps. The generic troops are little more then sniper fodder with more elite troops providing more of a challenge. The DLCs introduce a specialist Wermacht formation responsible for field-testing new weapons and killing Allied officers, and these soldiers are probably the toughest mooks in the series so far. They're not immune to bullets, but they carry all manner of explosives and use shoulder-mount rockets to flush you out.
  • More Dakka: Enemy troops and the player both have access to automatic weapons and the benefits of automatic fire they bring. Various vehicles have machineguns as part of their armaments and will turn them on the player.
  • No Scope: The player can shoot enemies with the sniper rifle without use of the scope. While not as accurate it can be handy in a pinch.
  • No Swastikas: We see a variety of red-black-and-white flags and banners which suggest the Nazi flag without actually being it.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: A rare example which isn't built upon in the game. Vahlen, the Wunderwaffe engineer, revels in war, and accuses Karl of the same attitude. Karl responds that he and Vahlen are not the same, and when he is about to kill Vahlen, Karl remarks again with disgust that he is nothing like him.
    Karl Fairburne: I'm not like you. I remember who I kill.
  • Ominous Clouds: During the "Fort Rifugio" mission, Fairburne narrates that A Storm Is Coming, literally, which he can use to cover his infiltration into the titular fort. During the first part of the level, dark storm clouds can be seen in the distance, complete with lightning. True enough, once the storm does arrive, all hell breaks loose in and out of the fort, as German and Italian reinforcements arrive in an attempt to kill the informant Brauer. Though, luckily for Fairburne, the storm's lightning does provide a Cacophony Cover Up to conceal his shots and his location from the aforementioned Axis troops outside the fort.
  • One Hit Poly Kill: Depending on conditions the player can kill multiple enemies with one bullet. Either one bullet passing through multiple enemies or causing certain objects to detonate killing groups of enemies.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Enemy soldiers exclusively refer to Karl as "The Desert Ghost".
  • Pink Mist: Rendered with increased detail as bone fragments and blood often spray out of an enemy.
  • Prequel: This game takes place three years before the events of Sniper Elite V2, and shows Karl Fairburne's tour-of-duty in North Africa under the British SOE.
  • Red Herring: The intro cutscene for the second level mentions that Vahlen lobbied for the development/deployment of nerve agents in the First World War, so presumably the superweapon he is in charge of developing is some sort of chemical weapon, right? Nope. It's a giant tank.
  • Regenerating Health: Present, but unlike V2, this game uses the "segmented regeneration" variant. To regain all of your health, you must use a medkit or bandages.
  • Save Scumming: Encouraged by the game: "Save frequently" is one of the gameplay hints that appear on loading screens.
  • Shown Their Work:
  • Sniper Duel: Surprisingly only one official one, between Fairburne and a German officer named Raubvogel, and it is in the "Save Churchill" DLC no less. Granted, any encounter with a sniper can turn into one.
  • Sniper Scope Glint: Enemy snipers will be given away by a visible white glint coming from their scopes. Should they spot you, a sharp audio cue plays just before they can fire on the player's position.
  • Sniper Scope Sway: Player heart rate, position, and whether you are using the focus mode or not can cause a player's scope to sway. Use of focus mode temporarily eliminates or greatly reduces the effect, and resting the rifle on a surface can also reduce it. Different rifles also have different amounts of scope wobble, and modifications to the rifle can either improve it or make it worse.
  • Sniping Mission: Every mission is a sniping mission. The player is a sniper under taking special covert missions and your primary weapon is a sniper rifle. While the player has access to other weapons and means of eliminating enemies the game is built around the use of the sniper rifles.
  • Status Buff: Enemy officers make regular enemies more observant.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: An increase in environmental items that can be shot and explode creating explosions and fire balls everywhere. Vehicles have nice explosions and even spare ammo boxes can be set off.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler:
    • Fairburne uncovers and eventually stops an attempt to produce a prototype super-heavy tank called the Landkreuzer P.1000 Ratte, armed with naval artillery guns and having 9 inches of armor plating.
    • The Schutzvollstrecker unit in the Save Churchill DLC are armed with Super Prototype rocket launchers derived from the MG42 and Panzerschreck.
  • Super Prototype:
    • The Landkreuzer P.1000 Ratte shown in the series is merely the prototype for an intended production line of these vehicles.
    • The Teufelsfeuer rocket launchers developed and used by the Schutzvollstrecker unit are these, due to only a handful being made and outperforming the standard Panzerschreck in the rocket launcher role.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Having difficulty against enemy vehicles? A single anti-tank mine planted in the right place can either disable or destroy even the heaviest of tanks with just one detonation.
    • Knocked out tank or vehicle equals dead crew member, right? Wrong. The Tiger tank fought in Kasserine, should you opt to shoot out its engine, will have all five of its crew attempt to bail out and then try to kill you with small arms fire.
  • Tactical Withdrawal: There is a new relocation system that encourages a player to move before the enemy finds them. Multiple shots from a location will lead the enemy to the player more quickly or increase the chances of an enemy finding the player when they do move.
  • Take Cover!: While there is no dedicated cover button like V2, the player can still crouch behind objects and pop out to shoot.
  • Tank Goodness:
    • Among the German Panzers that Fairburne comes up against are the Panzer III, the Panzer IV, and The Dreaded Tiger I.
    • Project Seuche turns out to be the creation and deployment of a super-heavy tank called the Landkreuzer P.1000 Ratte, a monstrosity far bigger than the already massive Tiger.
  • Tanks for Nothing: Ultimately, the Ratte is nothing more than a waste of time and resources, as by the time it's found by Karl, the Allies are already driving Rommel's forces into a corner at Tunisia, and the tank itself is still far from complete when Karl blows the facility it's housed in to smithereens.
  • Tanks, but No Tanks: Every enemy in the game gets an info card, which you can look at by looking at them through your binoculars. Normally this gives information on the soldier looked at, giving you information like "Rank" and "Weapon", but when you look at a tank of any sort it always says it's armed with an 88mm gun...even for Panzer 3s and 4s, which in-game only mount short and long-barreled 75mm guns respectively
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: After detecting a sniper in the area more than a few times the guards will still stop looking and going back to a more relaxed state even if several of their comrades have been shot in succession.
  • Third Is 3D: The game can be played in stereoscopic 3D if you have a compatible TV with PS4 versions.
  • Unique Enemy:
    • A total of only one Tiger tank is actually fought, in Kasserine Pass. The Panzer III is fought in Halfaya Pass and the third mission of the "Save Churchill" missions, while the Panzer IV is fought twice during the Siwa Oasis and Pont du Fahs Airfield missions.
    • A unique Opel Blitz truck armed with a 20mm antiaircraft gun appears during the Siege of Tobruk level. Every other Opel Blitz encountered in the game is unarmed.
  • Urban Warfare: Some of the environments can take part in small villages or bases providing both challenges and opportunities to the player as they traverse the terrain.
  • The Villain Must Be Punished: During the final mission, Karl manages to blow up Project Seuche and destroy the entire facility where the superweapon is being built. The Big Bad, General Franz Vahlen, is revealed to have survived the facility's destruction, albeit injured and buried under a heavy pile of rubble. Knowing he's pretty much beaten, he asks Karl to help him out and take him prisoner. Karl, having read what he had planned on doing and how he had killed his own men for petty reasons, elects to shoot the General with a bullet that belonged to his late friend Brauer instead, with Karl still clearly grieving over his friend's death earlier in the campaign.
  • Villainous Breakdown: In several of the late-game diary entries found by Fairburne, Vahlen begins going through a long and drawn-out one following Rommel's defeat at El Alamein, hoping to rush his project to completion for as long as the Afrika Korps can hold Tunisia and he's still in Hitler's favor.
  • Weapon Tombstone: Following Brauer's death in the Kasserine Pass level, Fairburne buries him in a grave marked with a German rifle.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Sniper Elite 3


Siege of Tobruk

In the opening cutscene to ''Sniper Elite III'', Karl Fairburne explains about the fighting in the deserts of North Africa, including the port city of Tobruk, which becomes a key defensive stronghold against the advance of the Axis Forces.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / DesertWarfare

Media sources: