Halo purists and sniper-haters, look away now. This is going to hurt. Because the camping deathmatch-ruiners have been given their own game. The kind of game where no amount of running around like a clockwork Rambo, or lobbing grenades about like snowballs is going to stop them. They're watching you, and they've got your squashy little head lined up between their crosshairs.
We're surprised Sniper Elite even made it to the shops, given the amount of time it's taken to get there (we first saw it in 2002), but we're even more surprised that, despite nearly four years of being batted between publishers, it's still managed to emerge as a fine game.
As much of the game is spent staring down a telescopic sight, Sniper Elite has been designed to truly push you and make you feel the sweatypalmed pressure of being a real-life sniper. The wartorn streets of Berlin and beyond are muted, brown places, which make it difficult to see rival snipers and other enemies. The lens itself takes a little time to focus on targets, and details usually overlooked in other games, such as heart-rate, breathing, distance to target and wind speed, all affect the accuracy of a bullet. If you've just run across a debris-littered street to find the perfect vantagepoint, chances are you'll be out of breath for a short while, making your aiming erratic and inaccurate. You'll also have to be quiet, and move at a snail's pace to stand any real chance of surviving. If you're prepared to spend the majority of the game crawling through crap on your stomach, you'll find this quite the experience. But Sniper Elite rewards only the patient gamer - those after quick-kill thrills and whizz-bang gaming should look elsewhere.
Making a kill is particularly satisfying, though, rewarding you for pulling off hits with stunning slomo bullet-cam views. The whole game will slow down, the camera following the bullet across distances of nearly a kilometre into someone's head
or chest, with your victim's face often contorting into pain and shock as they fly backwards to the ground, their brains and internal organs splattering everywhere. Lovely. Gas canisters on jeeps and tanks can be targeted too, with the vehicle often exploding and turning anyone even remotely close to it into a flaming ball of screams. It's not pretty.
The range of missions is also fairly wide, encompassing the shooting out of a parked jeep column, or using those bellycrawling skills to reach a wounded comrade, but it's when you're peering through your lens that Sniper Elite comes alive. We hear the developers had a real WWII sniper on hand to offer advice throughout, and it shows. It really is the most accurate depiction of a scope we've seen in a game, easily outstripping Halo's sniper mode or the arcade nonsense of Konami's Silent Scope. It rewards patience and cunning over meat-headed blasting, and if you can forgive the smudgy visuals and super-hard AI, those cracking skull-poppers will seem that much more satisfying. Not for everyone's tastes, but it's a refreshing slant on the FPS genre.
A brutal, nasty piece of gaming that's more about doing very little, then striking like a snake rather than going in all guns blazing.