- Format: PS4 (version reviewed), PS3, 360, PC, Xbone
- Unleashed: Out Now
- Publisher: 505 Games
- Developer: Rebellion
- Players: 1
- Site: http://www.sniperelite3.com/
Previously available only as a pre-order exclusive freebie, Sniper Elite III’s Hunt The Grey Wolf mission has now been made available for those who dared to refuse pre-ordering – for the eyebrow-raising price of £6.79. You can get some great, complete indie packages for less than that; so, is it worth your money?
In case you were wondering, yes, that price gives you just the one mission; it doesn’t include any of the recently released extra weapons or outfits. There are a few things that make this stand out from the levels present on the disc, however. Firstly – and most (in)famously – your ultimate goal here is to assassinate Hitler, who turns up when the level is almost done (yet there are still no swastikas). Another well known, real-life, grumpy-faced white man with bad hair in the game is Charlie Brooker. He cameos as an officer who appears in the level at the same time as Hitler; if you’ve ever wanted to shoot Charlie Brooker in the testicles (and let’s face it – who amongst us hasn’t at some point?), here’s your chance.
More importantly this is, it is claimed, a mission with a huge amount of replay value. You are promised “an expansive city environment”, and seven possible methods of eliminating the führer. The latter is easily verified; the former, unfortunately, just as easily disproven. You approach and make your way through a city, that much we’ll happily agree with. Your route to and through it is ultimately linear however, the developers funneling you through the approved route mostly via a combination of enemy placements and – a problem we virtually never encountered in the campaign – inexplicably insurmountable waist-high obstacles. You’ll regularly have a left/right choice, or even an up/down one – but both ways will quickly lead to the same path.
Though not connected to the campaign in any way, it’s still Sniper Elite III at its core and, thankfully, you can still bring your custom loadouts to the fight. The seven methods of killing Hitler may be almost entirely dictated by the developers, but apart from that it’s business as usual. This means (usually) choosing who, when, where, how, or even if to kill; assessing the situation when things go wrong, and deciding if it’s best to stand your ground and slaughter everybody rushing to your position, or bravely run away; and grinning like a maniac when an enemy soldier blunders straight into an explosive trap.
Sadly, almost everything about the mission seems to be actively working against what makes the campaign – which itself has plenty of replay value – so enjoyable. This can, we suspect, all be traced back to the brevity of the mission; this is significantly shorter than any of the main levels (excepting the tutorial). The final elements which distinguish this from the offerings on the disc are the clues (mandatory for progression); documents you need to read in order to decide if the Hitler at the end of the level is a double, or the real deal. This (and the clues) are randomised each time, so theoretically you never know exactly what to expect. In practice however it has no bearing on the mission whatsoever, save the handful of seconds you observe your target and decide whether to kill or leave him.
The worst mistake made with this mission – the very worst mistake – is disabling saves on all difficulties. You’ll still get checkpoints, but Hunt The Grey Wolf must be completed in a single session each time. It’s easy to understand the thinking behind this decision, of course. ‘We don’t want people just reloading a save when Hitler appears six times in a row, then abandoning the DLC forever. Hey, it’s only a short level anyway – what’s the problem?’. The problem is that, as previously mentioned, the approach to your target is constricted – frustratingly so. The majority of players will only find two different ways to play through that they’re entirely happy with, three at a push; certainly not 7+. Ironically, allowing manual saves would likely have resulted in a greater total playtime for many – if not most – people. The only players guaranteed to drain this DLC of achievements/trophies are those that pump dozens of hours into games that they don’t even enjoy for this very purpose.
Hunt The Grey Wolf isn’t irredeemably terrible, but it’s certainly a disappointment when compared to the fun-packed game it’s tacked on to. As a curio given free to those who pre-ordered, it’s well worth exploring – but as an extra with a price tag, it costs at least twice as much as it should.