What Makes Sniper Elite So Fun?

Between the recently released Sniper Elite V2 Remastered, and Rebellion’s announcement that more Sniper Elite goodness is in development, many ask, what makes the series so freakin’ fun? Well, it would be all too easy to point to Rebellion’s unique X-Ray bullet cam and leave the answer there, but in truth, the answer is more complex than that. The sheer volume of fun that any given Sniper Elite game relays isn’t exclusive to a single mechanic or function, but to a collective that many of the saga’s contemporaries fail to truly meet.

Sniper Elite has been taking the world by storm since 2005, with each new installation in the series typically bringing something new to the proverbial table; be it more realism, more depth, or more innovation. It really doesn’t matter what you play these games for, each area within the iconic framework usually gets some vast improvements one way or another. It’s because of this, Rebellion’s impressively deep ambition, that the series continues to go strong, and following the outstanding Sniper Elite 4, I can only imagine what’s coming next.

I’ve played every Sniper Elite game in the franchise, and I can attest first-hand that each game is better than what came before it. That, naturally, is a matter of opinion and will likely vary based on what you seek, but for me, that’s how I perceive the saga. That being said, and drawing back to the titular question; what makes the series so fun? Everything. That’s what. Rebellion has a knack for creating gorgeously dangerous playgrounds, and then drops you into them with the tools to wreak absolute havoc. Havoc that rarely grows tired.

Everything from enemy placement, enemy ferocity, and enemy intelligence, right the way through to stellar level design, depth and variety, and the sheer amount of freedom at your disposal, collectively makes for lengthy bouts of nonstop thrills. Rebellion should be commended for their ability to not only retain that structure through each new release, but for their commitment to constantly and consistently take it all to the next level. The fact that gameplay tends to revolve around one goal, but never gets old, speaks volumes.

It speaks volumes because of the aforementioned freedom you’re afforded in any given title. You’re spawned in, assigned an objective, and then set loose; free to tackle said objective however you see fit. Even when playing Sniper Elite V2 Remastered, a comeback of the 2012 original, I was blown away by how open everything was. Note: If you’ve yet to pick it up, I highly recommend that you remedy that. Sniper Elite III retained the same level of freedom, but gave you more tools, more objectives, and more depth to toy around with.

That’s not to mention the improved X-Ray bullet cam; a kill cam that follows the player’s bullet on its journey from rifle to the innards of the target. Sniper Elite III enhanced this feature by allowing players to see the damage that was caused during both the point of impact, and the subsequent damage caused as the bullet tore apart an enemy’s insides. However small that improvement seems on paper, believe me, it made a massive difference overall. Of course, Sniper Elite III made several other gameplay improvements elsewhere.

Stealth mechanics were improved, detection and enemy awareness mechanics were enhanced, and other neat additions introduced; such as the ability to disable vehicles via placing a well timed shot through the engine-work. Sniper Elite 4, once again, saw Rebellion’s commitment to further enrich their hit series. The X-Ray bullet cam included shrapnel kills, stealth kills, and melee kills, as well as some huge improvements to the game’s AI, with enemies no longer overlooking the corpse’s of their allies so easily.

Though, perhaps the best feature was the officers rank, being that you could take out high ranking officers in a bid to destabilize their forces. Group this with massive maps, more verticality, and a new movement system, and it was clear that Rebellion meant business. You see, that’s where Rebellion stands out. You’re guaranteed, with each new game that they release, an experience that feels fresh and far from the copy-and-paste concept that we see many other developers relying on in a bid to make a cheap, quick and easy return.

That to the side, even if it wasn’t for Rebellion’s many improvements on a title to title basis, the crux of play is fun enough in itself to stretch the ages. There’s something particularly alluring about taking out target after target from a great distance, using some noise from the world to mask your shots, and then picking off the strays as they desperately try to figure out your position. Of course, that’s just one way to play. The games are built in such a way that you can play them however you like; all guns blazing, or, like a deadly ghost.

More value can be found through charting your scores, something Sniper Elite excels at across the board. The games record pretty much every action you accomplish, from shot distance through to completion time, further bolstering replay value. Topping that all off is the fact that the majority of these games come with heaps of options that allow you to fine-tune the sort of experience that you want to pull; from adjusting the difficulty to make it more arcade-like, to heightening the awareness and resilience of the AI for more realism.

Then there’s the series’ multiplayer. Sniper Elite supports play for both co-op and competitive multiplayer, with both local and online functionality. Sniper Elite is a blast to play solo, but so much more gratifying when you’re taking to the fields of play with a buddy, tactically making your way through hordes of unsuspecting enemies and vehicles. Fancy something more PvP-based? Each game tends to provide a wealth of modes for you to flex your trigger fingers against your friends, or, the online world. No shortage of content folks.

The point in all of this? The Sniper Elite series is a blast for a number of reasons. The core structure is insanely rewarding and constantly empowering, further heightened by Rebellion’s wide open maps, their carefully balanced systems, the several tools in each game, and, the fact that each installation feels new, not just improved. This is why Sniper Elite will always trump its competition, it’s driven by a developer that gives a shit, not one that’s willing to release any old mess and fix it up after launch; à la Sniper Ghost Warrior 3.

Considering the amount of depth that’s added to each release, I cant wait to see what we’ve in store when Sniper Elite V arrives, and beyond. We’re likely still a good while off before hearing anything in relation to that, but until then, to keep you going, Rebellion has many other projects you should certainly dive on if you haven’t already – Strange Brigade is a must. What about you? Are you looking forward to Sniper Elite V? Would you agree? Perhaps you’ve got a preference series you enjoy above this? Hit the commends below!

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Written by
I've been playing games for as long as I can care to remember. Here at Xbox Tavern, I write news, reviews, previews and more. I'm a long time Final Fantasy fan, I can camp like you've never seen before in most FPS, and if I'm on a racing game, I tend to purposely trade paint. Feel free to add me - Gamertag: Kaloudz

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