Score = 4 out of 5
This is the ultimate sniper game, created for those of us who love picking off enemies who don't even know where we are. Set in spring of 1945 in war torn Berlin, the Russians and the Germans are locked in an epic struggle. The Russian secret service (NKVD) is in Berlin to steal atomic bomb technology from the Germans. Your character is an OSS sniper, disguised as a German and working alone to stop Stalin's forces from controlling the world's nuclear technology. You'll use your stealth and sniping skills to infiltrate hostile enemy environments and wreak havoc.
In the beginning, there are plentiful hints about gameplay displayed on the screen. It's not so easy to control your character. Between the binoculars (left trigger) and the sniper scope (press down on the right thumbstick) it can get confusing. You'll have to plan out your moves using the map which takes a little getting used to, and then advance using your camoflage to blend in while you lurk in the shadows. This is not frenetic battle action, this is methodical and cautious. It's necessary to play the angles and the distances. As long as you can keep the enemy at a distance you have an advantage because of your sniper rifle. You advance inch by inch, constantly scanning the rubble and bombed out buildings for enemy snipers.
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There are 28 missions for your sniping pleasure. You'll learn the subtleties of the art as you use gravity, elevation, wind speed and direction, heart rate, breathing, posture, background noise and other conditions to successfully hit your mark and conceal your position. It's a clever system. It's easy to select weapons and items on the fly using the D-pad. One of the most interesting aspects of Sniper Elite is the way that it combines third person and first person game play, mainly using third person to move around and first person to snipe. The missions are non-linear, which is very cool, so you can crawl around Berlin however you want, find your vantage points and let 'er rip. There's single player and 2-player co-op story mode as well as eight player multiplayer network play.
Sniper Elite is published by Namco for PS2, Xbox, and PC. For more information visit http://www.namco.com/games/sniperelite