This probably is the first good sniping-oriented game ever, although there's more than enough close-combat action.
Sniper Elite is the recent (2005) release from Rebellion that finally found its way to PC from the consoles. The game puts you into 3rd perspective of a son of an Americam diplomat to Germany who is sent by the Americans undercover as a German sniper to help stop the Russian NKVD from getting their hands on the nuclear technology (kind of lets you know from the beginning that your efforts will be futile).
At this point I was wondering, why not take a Russian immigrant and put him undercover as a Russian (who are on the winning side by the way) so you don't have to shoot anyone at all, but ok I'm digressing.
Sniper Elite concentrates on sniping (naturally) however it leaves plenty of space for those who like run-and-gun with some heavy machinery. IN FACT through the whole game I had a feeling like I was missing my Ghost Recon team. Snipers generally don't act alone especially when on a special mission requiring special equipment (and your mission in particular will get very special very often). By the time I got to the third level I was carrying on my back: a sniper rifle, a man's height machine gun, a bazooka and I had a bunch of different grenades and explosives and guess what…I found use for all of those weapons. In some missions I was forced to rely soly on my machine gun.
The game is not too heavily scripted. That means that after a while the urban setting might bore you a bit. Most objectives consist of shooting or blowing up or just reaching or carrying around something. This is actually what you should’ve originally expected so you shouldn’t complain too much about it. The objectives at least do follow the storyline logically and no one said that sniper’s work of patiently waiting for a target to show up is very exciting.
A personal complaint I want to add is that you will mostly be working on the streets. While they are full with...strangely conveniently placed cover...I know in real life I would never use the street as a sniping position (except in an emergency). I whish the game made that most buildings have some kind of generic rooms you can occupy. Maybe that’s too much to ask for.
The game feels to be of a good quality I'd say. Many interesting realistic small things make for an interesting gameplay. Such things include tripwire traps you can make to defend your sniping spots and time bombs where you can adjust the time yourself (!). You will be carrying all the guns you have on your back and not like some other games that let you carry a huge arsenal making you believe it all fits in some anorexic looking backpack of yours. Every time you change a weapon you see the character reach for it with his hands so it doesn't just magically appear in his hands.
Well let’s give it a separate section since that is what the game is ultimately about. Sniping is done quite well in game. You get about 4 sniper rifles. On the hardest difficulty setting there are wind, heartbeat, gravity and posture effects affecting your sniping. You can also use the empty long technique which allows you to stop breathing to stop shaking for some time. Each long range one-shot-one-kill you make will be shown in what I call Max Payne effect (those who played the game should remember). The camera follows the bullet to the target. You receive different points bonuses for different tricks like 2 kills with 1 shot or sniping a moving target. A stealth meter is also at hand to give you some reason to use sniping positions designated on your map (and other available rubble). You won’t survive for long in close combat with a large group.
I’d say Rebellion did a good job here even though I wish they gave a little manual on range estimation and wind reading to all the new players. Next game guys add more sniper rifles, change the time to present and add temperature and barometric pressure effects.
I've got to give it a separate section because AI is one of the game's best features. Truly these guys feel like multiplayer-hardened dogs (in fact the game's multiplayer is easier to me than single player). Enemies will move from cover to cover, throw grenades, outflank you while you're pinned down, react to different sounds and communicate among each other (you'll be using "throw stone for distraction" technique quite often). AI is not without flaws though as enemies often shoot at you the very second the show from around the corner and I could also see how the enemy soldiers keep tracking me with their guns even though they can't at all see me behind cover.
Still the AI is quite powerful and I'm absolutely amazed that the game makers didn't create a Co-op mode or some kind of map editor for single player customization.
...features 3 modes: deathmatch, team deathmatch and assassination. I do think that the many things you could do in single player you could do equally well in multiplayer (like placing a time bomb somewhere).
This is a little controversial here. I'm still playing games on my old system (2 GHz P4 Radeon 9600) and I was able to play Sniper Elite on maximum settings without any slowdowns. The graphics needless to say are not state of the art but they aren’t bad either. The game has that light bloom effect so franticly loved by all the game developers. It gives a very nice look to a game where many textures would otherwise be considered rather outdated.The effect is somewhat broken when you get close to those textures. Some things do really look dteailed like the faces and the weapons. Also very nice are some generic effects like the airplane raids above Berlin in the first mission.
Pretty good all in all. All of the maps I can remember had nice ambient battle sounds. They do unfortunately repeat themselves. You especially notice that when you're waiting for a certain sound to cover your sniping fire. The fact that sound is part of the gameplay makes it all the more interesting.
The Russian voices really do sound Russian and make sense (unlike some other games I played before) as AI reacts to different situations.
Sniper Elite is a good quality game with relatively good graphics that still allow a gamer with an older system to push something out of it. Concentrating on a single firearm it doesn’t eliminate the usefulness of the other weapons and has a well working single player with a multiplayer to accompany it.