Review by sfcalimari
"What's that in my sights?"
There are a lot of war games out there, and there are a lot of war games where you get to use a sniper rifle, but such sniper sections never last very long. Now we get Sniper Elite, a nifty World War 2 game completely dedicated to the fine art of sniping. If you've been itching for a game where long-distance killing is practically all you ever do, you should have fun with this game. I liked the single-player game but I love the online multiplayer. There is also a cooperative mode for single-player game, but I have not had a chance to play it with a friend, so I won't review how that stands up.
The story of the game is that you are an American OSS sniper sent at the very end of World War 2 to Germany in order to muck up the invading Russian army. It's a crazy idea, but then many good games are based on a crazy idea. The story isn't too important, and there aren't a billion dramatic cut scenes to distract you or chop up the action too much.
You view your character with a 3rd person view mode. You can crouch or lie flat, which makes you less visible to the enemy. There's even a camouflage index showing how hidden you are. In the 3rd person view, you can use sub-machine guns or toss grenades or use some truly cool weapons like trip wire grenades, but you can't see very far. You can press L2 to see through binoculars to check out your surroundings. Press R3 to look down the sights of your trusty sniper rifle.
Unlike most games, the sniping in this game is very complex. Gravity will draw bullets downwards, so you have to aim a bit higher when firing at far off targets. On higher difficulty levels, wind is a factor, so you may have to aim slightly to the left or right of your target to compensate for the wind. Also your weapon has some kickback, especially when standing up fully. Oh yeah, and like other realistic games, your scope will tremble a bit. Press square to breathe out and slow down the trembles so you can shoot more carefully.
For the most part, action in the game involves you crawling around, in order to keep discrete, and using your binoculars to scope out nearby enemies. Then when you're ready, you can start sniping. You don't have a silencer on your rifle, so be careful with your first shot. You can time your shot with artillery explosions to mask the noise, but generally when you start firing all nearby enemies will start coming after you. Ok, now you've got to start hitting a bunch of moving targets as the enemy soldiers start rushing at you, firing with their machine guns. Fire well!
In each level there are several objectives you have to complete before finishing the stage. Like hiding in a church tower, shooting at Russian soldiers so that a spy can escape. Or finding a wounded ally and taking him to a hiding spot.
The AI in this game is really good. In fact, it's downright diabolical. Often you'll start taking down enemies at the end of a long street, but then another enemy or two will attack you from behind. Most enemies carry sub-machine guns, which realistically have a short range and aren't particularly powerful, but in this game can kill you very quickly and from far away. It's a bit of a flaw that sub-machine guns are so overpowered, but it does keep the game very challenging. As you might imagine, if an enemy is close to you, you will die very quickly. Which is why you have to focus on sniping. Enemies will sometimes dumbly rush at you but they often will take cover or fall to the ground and sneakily crawl up towards you. The enemies have their own snipers, who can be very hard to find with your binoculars, but when any enemy fires at you will get an alert by your health gauge showing where the shot came from, so you can search the shooter out. Fortunately you can save at any point during a level, though there are a limited number of times you can do this within each level.
Overall, the single-player is really quite strong. It is quite a bit longer than the usual action game, but not too long. It won't change your life or totally blow you away, but it's a bit better than most single-player games found these days. There isn't a whole lot of replay value though. You can play it again and again on tougher difficulty modes, or try beating a level in a different way, or fiddle with the settings, but there aren't any secrets to unlock (except for one secret level) or new paths to take. Overall I give the single-player a 7 out of 10.
Now for the online multiplayer, which is, in a word, fantastic. It's easily the best experience I've had playing an online game for play station 2. There are three modes: deathmatch, team deathmatch, and assassination. The first two are what you would expect and Assassination is a confusing mess that I've never found worth playing. But deathmatch and team deathmatch are a lot of fun. There are about 8 maps you can play on, and you can use sniping, grenades, pistols, proximity mines, and machine guns. There are some interior spaces you can hide inside but mainly there are a lot of open areas to keep an eye on. Watch for your enemy, swipe out your rifle, zoom in, and cap him in the head. You can either play aggressively, running behind enemy lines and killing them with brutal grenade tactics. Or you can hang back from a discrete location, sniping at enemies when they pop their head out. The only drawbacks are that there aren't very many people online, and the maximum number of players allowed in a game is 8, which is rather small. I do think a capture the flag mode of some sort could have been fun. However, I definitely give the multiplayer for this game a 9 out of 10. I guess that averages out to an 8 for the whole game. Hope you get the game so we can meet on the field of battle.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/02/06
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