Sniper Elite (PC)
Sniper Elite takes place in 1945, at the close of the war. The game focuses on the conflict between Russia and Germany for control of Berlin. The Russian secret service, known as NKVD, is in town to steal the atomic-bomb technology from the German Army. You have to put a stop to that posthaste, because nuclear weapon technology in the hands of Stalinâ€™s forces would surely spell big trouble for just about the entire world. You are an American sniper, trained by the OSS to be the best of the best when it comes to covert operations.
Disguised as a German soldier, you have to stop the NKVD at all costs. The single-player campaign is quite lengthy. There are 28 missions in a variety of different (but very similar) war-torn settings. The missions are pretty much what youâ€™d expect from a sniper game. Youâ€™ll have to assassinate high-ranking officials, steal secret documents, rescue captured allies, and shoot hundreds of guys in the head. The campaign can easily take 12 hours or more to finish. If you complete all the optional objectives and take the time to set up all your shots rather than just blast away recklessly, this game will easily take up as much time as youâ€™re willing to give it. Therein lies the conundrum with this game. If you play it carefully, a single level can take much more than an hour to complete. The stealth is well done here, and the game does a great job of building up the sense of tension that comes from sneaking around and picking off enemies. After a while, though, that tension fades into tedium, and youâ€™ll eventually just be wishing you could move on already.
The missions arenâ€™t particularly satisfying, either. Some of the more complex missions are great, like when you have to climb your way up a cathedral tower and snipe enemy soldiers as they rush your ally, whoâ€™s stuck waiting for transport. The problem is that most of the missions are rather anticlimactic. Youâ€™ll spend a long time fighting through as many as six or seven fairly simple but time-consuming objectives, only to have the final objective be something as simple and unexciting as walking to the ex-filtration point, unchallenged, so you can exit the level.
Another problem with the missions is that they require a lot of trial and error to really figure out what youâ€™re supposed to do. Youâ€™ll die several times while trying to figure out what the best position is to complete your objectives, or where enemies will be coming from. This means youâ€™ll replay the same mission several times, even on the easiest difficulty. This is especially frustrating when you go through 20 minutes or more of buildup, only to have the guy you were supposed to assassinate get spooked and run away. Then you have to go through that 20-minute buildup all over again. Luckily, you can save anywhere you want and at any time, though you do have a limited number of saves per mission. Youâ€™ll want to save often so you donâ€™t have to keep going over your same tracks every time you die.
Headshots are the order of the day in Sniper Elite.
Youâ€™ll die a lot, too, because as a sniper you arenâ€™t equipped to take much damage. A few rounds from a machine gun at close range are more than enough to put you down. You can find bandages and medikits on the ground and by searching corpses, but healing items are few and far between. The enemy artificial intelligence here is deviously intelligent, as well. In fact, the AI is almost too intelligent sometimes; they have an uncanny sense of where you are at all times, even when youâ€™ve gone to great lengths to remain concealed. The enemies in the game donâ€™t often just stand there and wait for you to pop them in the head. Enemies run for cover, crouch, and lay down, and theyâ€™ll even work together to pull some dirty tricks. For instance, a group of enemies might keep you occupied while another enemy sneaks around behind you and unloads a clip in your back before you can even turn around to see whatâ€™s happening. If you shoot an enemy in the leg, heâ€™ll fall to the ground and squirm around while shouting for help. If you donâ€™t finish him off right away, another enemy will pick up his fallen comrade and carry him to safety. The game does a great job of making the enemies seem crafty and intelligent. A good deal of the challenge here is derived from the fact that itâ€™s usually far more effective to outfox your enemies than it is to outgun them.