Sniper Elite
Developer: Rebellion
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1/Network
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It’s a good job that weapons like the .50 BMG MCMillan (apparently it’s a gun) are not easily obtainable on the streets. Its bad enough trying to get home at night avoiding the problems you can see, but imagine what it would be like having to avoid an attacker who is over a mile and a half away. You see apparently the longest recorded kill by a sniper is from a range of 2430 Meters!

Sniper Elite does its best to try and recreate that feeling of the long range kill. It’s a third-person game in which you are an American soldier, disguised as a German trying to stop the Russians - how’s that for confusing? You are no normal soldier though, as you will have guessed, you are a Sniper and range is your friend.

The sniping part of the game aims for the simulation side of things, at the highest level of difficulty you have to take into account everything; from wind resistance, heart rate and even gravity. The further away your target is the higher you have to aim to take into account the drop of the bullet - when it works, it works well. The first time you line up your sights and pull the trigger to get a successful kill you actually feel like you have achieved something.

This achievement is made all the better by cut scenes and statistics that would be more at home in a golf game. A real good kill is rewarded by slow motion bullet cam. The bullet is followed from the gun to its target, up to and including it coming out the other side – blood, guts, brains and all. The game then tells you how far away that target was and rewards bonus points if it was moving. Perhaps it shouldn’t be, but I found it a real buzz.

The game encourages you to be slow and methodical – running is replaced by crawling – and the ‘run and gun’ of so many games is replaced by the duck and cover. There is a problem though, and it’s easily the biggest let down in what would be an otherwise brilliant game. At times it’s taken me upwards of 5 minutes to crawl into position and line up my shot. I am supposed to think this is hard and those bullet cam moments my reward, so why is it that, as my target drops to the floor, his friends with machine guns are instantly shredding me to pieces?

Ok – they saw their friend drop and heard the rifle – but surely they should at least look for me first? – And why are they so accurate with their burst fire? It would be fine if I was up against another Sniper, but that’s not the case. I have yet to be able to take out one target and then line up and kill another as he looked for me – they ALWAYS seem to know where I am.

One other problem, related to the first, is that you rarely know where these shots are coming from. Only by trial and error did I eventually find the Russian with the machine gun who was hitting me from a distance that I could hardly see with my fully zoomed rifle! This removes a lot of the immersion from the game, and gets plain annoying. This could have been the perfect “stealth” game but the problems are just so frustrating.

The game has many neat touches, the weather effects are great, really atmospheric and the physics behind the sniping really make you feel like you have earned your kill. Even more so when you hit a grenade on a target’s belt and take him and two colleagues out with one shot, or hit a petrol can on a jeep – kablooie!.

Graphics-wise the game looks fine, the levels are well designed and seem to recreate what I have seen of war torn cities. However, your soldier’s inability to climb up small steps seems a bit strange – After all the complaints about the Ghost Recons you’d have thought Rebellion would have made sure their game didn’t suffer from the same niggles.

Sniper Elite would have benefited so much by going more for the simulator approach – being able to recreate something like the scene in “Enemy at the Gates” (where numerous targets are taken out unbeknown to those people stood nearby) is impossible in S:E – the enemy AI just never seems to miss and can hit you from too far a distance. And sadly, this for me really ruins a great game for me.

Best Bits

- The hunt of the target
- Sniping mechanics are very well done
- Atmospheric graphics and sound
- It’s ‘campers’ heaven
Worst Bits

- The “superhuman” ability of the targets
- Too slow for most gamers

by: dUnKle

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