Raising my binoculars I spot my mark entering the square below in a German Sturmwagon, the engine emitting a low growl as it slows to turn about. Stowing my binoculars I carefully bring my SVT rifle to my face and bring the crosshairs to rest on the explosives I had hidden in the square just moments before taking up a vantage point in an abandoned building across the road. As the Sturmwagon grumbles to a stop I concentrate, slowly releasing air from my lungs and pull the trigger.
The explosion is spectacular, engulfing not only the target’s vehicle, but a nearby halftrack filled with German soldiers ready to spring forth at the slightest suggestion of trouble. Panic spreads throughout the area as I pull myself to my feet, shouldering my rifle and opening my map to double-check my escape route. Seconds later a crack and a scream fill the building, signalling that German soldiers had began searching for me and stumbled across one of my concealed explosive tripwires I had riddled the entrances with.
Grasping my PPSH41 submachine gun, opportunistically salvaged from a dead Russian soldier, I sprint down the stairwell and head for the alleyway that would lead to my extraction point. With any luck I would be gone before the enemy could piece together what was happening, but being prepared pays off when you’re playing Rebellion’s Sniper Elite.
Oh yes, Sniper Elite is a gem of a title and what with Sniper Elite V2 on the horizon (demo available now, go play it) I thought now would be a great opportunity to dust off the original game, available on PS2, Xbox, PC and Wii, and tell you just why it warranted a remake. Sniper Elite follows fictional OSS agent Karl Fairburne as he is thrust into the Battle of Berlin at the end of the Second World War, disguised as a German sniper in order to stop the Russians capturing German nuclear technology. As the game’s disclaimer notes; although this is a work of fiction the events are based on the true events that happened in 1945 Berlin so the game’s already gotten me hooked before I even reach the title screen.
Sniper Elite is a game very much aimed at the hardcore crowd. Sprinting about the streets and alleyways spraying bullets is a great way to get sent home in a box. Moving slowly, keeping low and scanning risky areas with your binoculars for threats are techniques you will have to familiarize yourself with and with that comes a great sense of tension and ultimately accomplishment when you finish a mission. Victory tastes all that much sweeter when you have to work for it.
Being disguised as a German, Karl will often side with other Germans in order to complete objectives (a WW2 game where Germans aren’t the enemy? I’m as surprised as you are) but will have to be stealthy and remain hidden when entering restricted areas or around Russian troops. To aid in this, you are constantly given an on-screen percentage to indicate how camouflaged you are to your surroundings, not far removed from Metal Gear Solid 3‘s camo index. In order to blend in you should take advantage of dark areas, piles of rubble and should always go prone whenever possible. Being identified is always your biggest threat and when done just right, you can get through an area without the enemy even knowing.
One massive tick for Sniper Elite is it’s realistic approach to ballistics. Your bullets will be affected by gravity and, on harder difficulties, wind direction, meaning that simply firing a shot is a matter of expertise and calculation and feels oh so sweet when your shot finds it’s mark between the eyes of an unsuspecting foe.
On top of the hurdles provided by ballistics you must also take into account your firing position, breathing and heart rate (if it’s too high you won’t be able to empty your lungs to steady your shot, Karl needs oxygen too). These things can be tweaked as you wish in the game settings but when you can pull off a shot with them on you’ll feel like the biggest badass this side of Frankfurt.
Graphically, it’s a great looking title. There’s a sense of scale to the game that makes your sniping a lot more legitimate. When firing long-distances the game enters into a slow motion cinematic shot of the bullet as it follows it’s trajectory and the resultant mess when it lands. The controls are familiar to modern-day shooters so it’s easy to pick up (but tough to master).
Quite interestingly, a mission will span several levels, with all equipment, ammunition and health carried over from one to the next. This means that if you waste a lot of ammo or use all your medkits you’ll be screwed when you get to the next area and find you need them so take your time and use your equipment wisely. On many occasions I found that I had ran out of ammo for my silenced pistol and without it (and irritatingly no melee function) I couldn’t silently eliminate the guard and enter the compound undetected so had to restart the mission from an earlier level so be warned!
I could go on about the merits of Sniper Elite but I’m sure by now you’ve decided whether or not to give it a go so I’ll try and summarize: World War 2, Nuclear weapons, stealth, realism and true-to-life ballistics. It’s a wonderful title that no hardcore gamer should miss and Sniper Elite V2 really does look like it will do it’s predecessor justice so have a go on the demo and tell me you didn’t like it.
You must be logged in to post a comment.