I usually don’t rattle on about FPS games or shooters in general but if there’s one thing I love, it’s sniping. It’s fun, calculating and it can produce some impressive tales of you being a badass. With Sniper Elite III out, I decided to examine just why sniping is one of my favourite playstyles ever.
I’ve always been a big fan of sniping in games. From Hitman’s sniper assassinations to taking down Sniper Wolf in Metal Gear Solid to shooting Hitler in the testicle in Sniper Elite V2, being a sniper in a videogame is a test of skills, patience and diligence but most of all, it’s great bloody fun. Nothing is more satisfying than lining up that perfect headshot in the chaos of a battlefield or being hidden away and silently executing enemies left, right and centre before anyone realises just what the hell happened. Being a sniper in a game allows you to take a step back from a situation and examine the possible outcomes and strategies. For sniping, half the battle is preparation and considering which target should be your first. Then, it’s just a matter of reflexes and speed. Instead of charging in with your gun, sniping lets you take down your enemies with a deliberately calculated mindset, not just with a gung-ho one.
Probably some of the best sniping I’ve ever experienced in games was Sniper Elite V2. Sure, it’s not going to win prizes for its storytelling but with such a satisfying and gory X-ray mechanic, it doesn’t need to. The levels usually begin with the Nazis going about their daily activities of patrolling, being evil and so on. Then, Johnny America steps up with his glorious rifle to help deal out some justice. You sneak to a high point, using your scope to spot the enemies out on the field before you carefully pick your shots. Do you take out the soldier who is half-hidden by a derelict building? Or do you try take out the three Nazis who are standing clear as day in the open plain? It’s your decision.
Whichever target you pick, you’re going to need to have to adjust for wind speed, distance, direction and gravity – not to mention the coriolis effect. It’s laborious but if you succeed, the results can literally be mindblowing. The bullet cracks out of your rifle at the speed of light, whizzing its way through the air with a loud bang. There’s no silencers in this game, so your first shot better count because it’s the only one you’ll have without any pressure. As the bullet continues to its target, you can revel in its journey by slowing it down or speed it up for a high impact shot; either way, the results are going to be bloody. Once the bullet meets its target, the impact is devastating. The slow motion view of a skull splintering to pieces is so sickening in its reality but oddly addictive. I suppose if Sub Zero can pull a man’s heart out of his chest and volley it into next week without flinching, I can shoot a Nazi in a video game without feeling guilty. While some players love to rock a machine gun and go Rambo on the enemy, it’s infinitely more satisfying for me to pick my enemies off bit by bit, conserve my ammo and take down an enemy squad with tactics and cover, rather than running and gunning.
While a lot of FPS games emphasise the idea of rushing in with your SMGs akimbo, taking down as many as you can, die, respawn, repeat, the idea of a sniper for me is to make every shot count. When I play as a sniper, I’m getting good cover, taking headshots and moving forward to better cover. When it comes to other non-linear shooters, I usually use sniping if it’s available. One such game is Far Cry 3. Sniping in that game was an absolute treat as you could scope out the enemies from miles away, sit back, unload a few rounds and watch the chaos unfold. I’ve successfully cleared outposts by simply silently shooting a tiger’s cage and letting the animal go to work on the pirates below. It’s incredibly entertaining.
However, when the tide turns and you’re up against a sniper, you’re usually in for a bad time. Uncharted 2 and 3 are infamous for this as a sniper would always appear at the worst times possible, forcing you to roll around all over the place to dodge those red lasers. Sniping is fun when you’re behind the rifle but when you’re in front of it, it can really put you in a tough spot – especially on harder difficulties.
I think sniping is something I enjoy because I’m a massive fan of stealth and the idea of taking down a high priority target or a group of soldiers silently via sniper rifle and then never being discovered is something that makes me very happy. You won’t have to deal with grunts with overpowered armor and weapons when you have a sniper rifle. You just stand far back, equip a rifle and go to work. Much like a chess game, you have to calculate your moves with lightning speed reactions. It’s thrilling to go from absolute silence to utter chaos with the squeeze of the R1 button. Two of my favourite missions in Call of Duty allowed me to do just that. All Ghillied Up/One Shot, One Kill are my favourite back to back missions in the entire CoD franchise because of how it really captured what a sniper is all about. You go from throwing grenades and calling in choppers to take down enemies to slowly crawling on your belly and hoping a passing guard doesn’t tread on your fingers and blow your cover. The missions are all about stealth and being risky. At one stage, you charge across a military training ground and for some miraculous reason, are not discovered. Finally, the mission culminates with you waiting patiently to get that perfect shot on your target. Wait until the wind slows down and boom! Your target is down. Now it’s just a matter of getting the hell out of there. These two missions were such a refreshing change of pace and holding my breath as I crawled through a field while an entire squadron walks past is one of the highlights.
While I haven’t even touched on the excellent sniper missions in Hitman or or the open world delights that can come with a sniper rifle in Fallout 3, there’s such a huge love for sniping from gamers everywhere. Whether its sitting back and waiting days for an execution in ARMA 2 or spotting and shooting Raiders miles away with your rifles, sniping is certainly a strong staple in games all over – and one that I hope that will continuously be improved upon. It’s satisfying to create the perfect shot and you can feel like you can take on the world if you pull off a headshot from miles away from your target. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to play Fallout New Vegas and shoot up a Legion camp with my trusty sniper rifle.
This probably won’t end well.
Got an epic sniper story you just need to get off your chest? Or just want to give your thoughts on sniping in gaming? Let me know what you think in the comments below.