In a reviewing mood so bear with me
Reading the back of the box it said “every cool thing you’ve seen a sniper do in a WW2 movie is in this game” or words to that effect. And while I think that statement is a gross misdirection that had me thinking “Enemy at the Gates” and “Saving Private Ryan”, the game is actually pretty damn good.
I was hesitant in buying it due to the abomination that was “Sniper” for the PS2, a fair few years ago now but the atrociousness of that game has stuck with me. It was appallingly, embarrassingly bad.
But given that game technology has come a long way since that atrocity, and that this game is by Rebellion Games, I decided to give it a shot (pun intended).
You are basically an American tasked with stopping German V2 scientists falling into the Red Army’s hands in the dying days of WW2. The story is pretty thin, and a little ridiculous, and the gravelly-voiced narrator for your character is unintentionally comedic, but that’s all secondary to the game: it’s about shooting as many people as possible while staying undetected for as long as possible. And the game does this extremely well.
The game is about stealth, and lining up nice clean headshots from long distance while sneaking around various maps, including demolished Berlin streets, secret V2 rocket facilities etc. You can’t go all gung-ho – the game makes sure of this by making your secondary weapons (Thompson machine gun, MP40, Lugers, Colt 45’s etc) have very limited ammo, while your sniper rifle gets the lion’s share of the bullets you can carry.
The sniping is absolutely first rate. Once you’ve lined up the perfect shot, held down aim, and fired, if you pull off a perfect shot you get this nice “bullet-cam” that follows the bullet as it trails toward your target, then goes into “x-ray vision” so you can see your bullet tear through lungs, smash bones, shred muscles…it’s a very nice effect. And you use fairly high-powered WW2 rifles, so you can get the added awesomeness of taking out two guys with one bullet. Excellent.
Another very cool thing is that you can use long-range binocular vision to scout out enemy strongpoints and “tag” enemies, which becomes especially useful if you are detected, and have to run and hide like a sissy, because you can see the little red tag arrows and know when the enemies that have spotted you are getting close. It also provides some very dramatic “movie” moments, like the sweet feeling of spotting an enemy sniper hunkered down in an attic before he spots you, lining up a headshot, and then whacking him right between the eyes. There was a psychotic smile plastered on my face through most of this game.
The level design is also pretty cool. It’s fairly on-rails and corridor, but does a decent job of hiding it in most levels. It takes a lot of patience, but the game rewards patience, like my favourite level – sneaking into a highly protected facility by using the loud sounds of a smelter and a loudspeaker to mask the sounds of your shots. The level took me about 2 hours to complete, but every moment was nail biting.
The mechanics are very well done too. I usually find the switch to first person in third person shooters quite jarring, but in this game I barely noticed. Sometimes the “disappearing wall” thing as you turn the camera around is a bit distracting, but it’s a minor complaint in an otherwise very well done game.
It ain’t perfect, but it’s done the trick to satisfy my need to blow people away while I wait for Far Cry 3 and Medal of Honor: Warfighter.