Originally known as Sniper Elite: Berlin 1945, this tense game of World War II intrigue from British developer Rebellion shoots across the Atlantic thanks to Namco. Players take the role of an American marksman working for the Office of Strategic Services, who is stationed in war-torn Berlin and must use surveillance, stealth, and sharp shooting skills to prevent the Nazis from developing atomic weapons. The game is designed to realistically simulate all the challenges of long-distance shooting, accounting for wind speed, elevation, and even breathing and heart rate. Sniper Elite offers 28 non-linear levels designed to challenge gamers to figure out the best way to accomplish their objectives.
Developed by UK based Rebellion (guys behind Aliens Vs. Predator, Dredd vs. Death, etc.), this sniping/stealth action game is set in 1945 Berlin. The ravages of World War II are drawing to a close and the Russians and Germans are locked in furious conflict for war-torn Berlin. Reports abound that the Russian secret service (NKVD) are in Berlin to steal atomic bomb technology from the German Army. In the game, you control the fate of an American soldier, trained as a sniper by the OSS. Now, as a key member of an invisible, yet elite group, you are assigned to the most sensitive of missions. Disguised as a German and working alone, you must infiltrate hostile enemy environments and using your stealth and sniping skills, and stop the NKVD at all costs.
So, what can you expect to actually do in this game? If you've seen the movie Enemy at the Gates you probably already have a pretty good idea. There are 28 missions in all in the single player campaign. The missions are pretty much what you'd expect from a sniper game. Each mission will start off by giving you an objective (marked on the easy to use map) and will then give you more objectives each time you successfully complete the last one. Mission objectives vary from assassination high-ranking officials, stealing secret documents, rescuing captured allies, to shooting hundreds of guys in the head.
The sniping portion of this game is, obviously, extremely well done. The game does a great job of building up the sense of tension that comes from sneaking around and picking off enemies. Flames in a building, planes overhead engaged in a dogfight, and distant explosions, even though may not be relevant, also adds to the tension you feel. You never know who will come out from where, enemy can be anywhere, on a balcony, window or inside a wrecked building... The paranoid, midst-of-battle atmosphere of the game, as well as the intelligence of the AI, forces you to keep low and think before you shoot. The stealth is well done here - you can stay behind cover and run from cover to cover, and take the enemy out from very long distance. The environments are not overwhelmingly impressive, but they do suit the style of gameplay that is present. Bombed out buildings and debris is scattered throughout the levels-- the perfect environment for a sniper.
Your character can hold a variety of items from med kits, bandages, time bombs, TNT, tripwire grenades, stick grenades, frag grenades, a silenced pistol, a machine gun, etc. After killing an enemy you can often search their bodies for goods and ammo. As you progress in the game you earn access to new guns, each of which has slightly different sniping abilities. Beyond the 3 standard scoped rifles at your disposal (Gewehr 43, Tokarev SVT-40, and Mosin-Nagant M91) the game also offers up such goodies as the MG42 Heavy Machinegun, MP40 Schmeisser, P-38 Luger, and PPSch-41.
The bullet physics are fairly realistic, especially on the highest difficulty level- when taking a shot you must account for wind speed, posture, heart rate and, most importantly, gravity. A long range target will be impossible to hit unless you account for the distance by aiming above the mark's head. Wind means that you must also compensate your shot by aiming to the left or right of a target, depending on the actual speed of the wind present in the level. Scoring a head shot on a long-range moving target is incredibly satisfying, as it takes quite a lot of skill to accomplish! When you do line up that perfect shot, a slow motion effect begins and the camera follows your bullet through the air all the way to the target. The result is a graphic death and a bloody splat from the back of the head! The close combat is not as fun as sniping, but it is necessary in some areas of the game, and it does give a welcome change from constant sniping.
The feature that really impressed me the most is the enemy's level of intelligence. If you injure a soldier another will run out and put him over his shoulder and try to get him out of there. Often they will call for reinforcements and even work together to try and take you out. The AI is well done and very challenging, but not without a few bugs that do need fixing. Enemies, on the highest difficulty level, occasionally and magically know where you are positioned as soon as you fire a shot.
Sniper Elite has both LAN and online play. Your character's appearance can be customized and you have the choice of playing Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, or Assassination modes. Unlike the console versions of the game, the PC version doesn't have any co-op play.
I have to admit this game kept me interested to the very end, it's well laid out and the story line flows reasonably well, the sniping is realistic but easy to get used to. If you are the kind of gamer who loves playing as a sniper and going for that perfect shot, then this is the game for you!
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