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SNIPER ELITE Review
When Killing Nazi's fails to be fun
By Generalissimo Furioso
As we all know, there are a lot of World War Two themed games out there, we have Medal of Honor, Call of Duty, Company of Heroes, Battlefield 1942 etc. The problem with these games is, despite the fact that we have nothing but respect for the people who fought in this war, WE KNOW WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN ALREADY! D-Day is going to end with the allies winning, because anything else would be disrespectful to the veterans of this war (That's why Crimson Dawn never made it to the states, Japan winning WWII with the help of giant robots!? How egregious!). So up to now, most WWII games focused on being a guy fighting Nazis. Sure, some games added a twist to the mix, my personal favorite being Castle Wolfenstein (Robot Hitler as a boss, NATCH!) due to the fact that it inserted some of the more obscure knowledge of the war into the mix (Hitler's fascination with the occult and mystical) with some good ol' fashioned killing. No WWII game ever made was more fun to me than Castle Wolfenstein, until Sniper Elite came along.
They won't be saving your brain this time Hitler...
Sniper Elite does something no other WWII game has ever done before, instead of putting you into the midst of the conflict between the Allies and the Axis, you take the role of a O.S.S. (WWII era CIA) agent who's disguised as a German soldier in the ruins of Berlin. Instead of having to blast Nazis, your objective is to skulk around and prevent Russian troops from capturing the city and obtaining the vast treasure trove of intelligence within. Essentially, this isn't a mindless WWII shooter, it's a Cold War sneaking game in a WWII styled environment and that works well, even to a discerning individual such as myself.
The game begins with a very good message, stick your head out and act like a hero, you're going back home in a box, and brother, they ain't kidding about that part. I tried to complete the first mission in a gung-ho style just to see if the game was blowing smoke up my ass. I did pretty good, I managed to take down a bunch of NKVD (Russian Secret Police) agents with a combination of small arms fire and explosives, then I realized something, I had run out of health packs, the closest pick-ups were only a few feet away, so I made a run for it, I didn't make it. The game intends for you to spend a lot of time skulking around, waiting for your target to reach the right position, where you can fire your rifle in tune with the artillery explosions so as not to alert enemies in the distance. The game is dedicated to realism in multiple aspects. For example, bullets don't travel in straight lines, but rather on a shallow arc (due to gravity), explosives have a 20 yd damage radius (compared to the basic Hollywood explosion which is about 8 yd's) and if you're being shot at, your heart rate goes up, making it harder to steady your aim. It might seem like a big hassle, but these options are customizable and if you hate the fact that you have to aim a little above your target to hit it, you can turn off bullet gravity or any of the other realism options. But to reward the player who uses their rifle accordingly, whenever you make a covert shot that kill or seriously wounds an enemy, you're treated to a bulletcam view, you see the bullet spiral out of the barrel of the gun, pierce the air, and drive it's way into the enemy's brain, heart, kidney, coxes etc. The fact that you can instead opt to wound an enemy rather than finish him outright opens the door for some devious tactics. On the first level I set up a tripwire explosive trap in the path of a Russian Soldier, however he spotted it and while he attempted to disarm it I fired a shot directly into his kneecap, as he fell over, his cries alerted a nearby squad of soldiers who came charging in to assist, and directly into the tripwire trap (boom). The realism doesn't end there, it is possible to disable or even destroy heavily armored vehicles with carefully aimed shots delivered to the treads, fuel tanks, ammo dumps, etc.
However, it's not all rainbows and ribbons, as there are several things that are wrong with this game. For one, the missions take forever to accomplish, not because they are difficult, but because of the way the game is structured. The best position to move around and attack from is a prone position, which takes a good deal of time to move around in, and levels tend to contain multiple sporadic mini-missions which are unavoidable (how many times am I going to have to escort a wounded guy from point A to point B?). Also, save and load times are borderline infuriating, the nature of the game leads you to want to save after accomplishing your objectives, but the nuisance of having to wait for about 3 minutes for a save to finish, tends to lead you to ignore the process completely, often resulting in having to reload past saves from previous missions or such and having to trudge through the objectives again. These issues are things that don't really impede the gameplay, but rather just take away from it, which is sad because the gameplay is pretty damn satisfying. So if you're looking for a WWII game that doesn't disappoint or end with a happy hooray that we won the war, then pick this up for a spin, of course you need some patience... or booze.
How many needles of black tar heroin to make this game good?:
Around five or so, just for whenever the whole take injured soldier from point A to point B missions pop up.