There are a couple of standout scenarios in the six-hour single-player campaign, like setting an explosive trap for a convoy, and stopping the launch of a V2 rocket while fighting off waves of enemies. These well-produced, well-scripted moments are fun, but they're spread out between a lot of firefights that made me feel more like a commando than a sniper who relies on stealth. I was just as capable of completing most of my objectives by taking a very aggressive approach, and in fact in many cases I felt encouraged to fight my way in or out of enemy-controlled facilities.
Gas tanks and bullets are a lethal combination.
Playing in online co-op only exacerbates that, because now there are two players who aren't spending a lot of time trying to be sneaky, but rather treating this as a typical third-person shooter. To a degree it's nice that Sniper affords this level of flexibility in play styles, but it's not what I was hoping for when I sat down to play a sniping game.
The AI has some moments of brilliance when it's not showing a complete lack of awareness of its surroundings; there were a half-dozen times where I saw them funnel through a doorway allowing me to pick them off one by one. But this investigative behavior actually allowed for some cool moments -- I get a kick out of throwing a rock near a landmine and watching as they walk over to investigate it.
Yes, it's possible to kill them both with a single bullet.
Because I killed them before I reached the checkpoint inside an adjacent building, new enemy soldiers continued to spawn and man the turrets once again.I resorted to tricks like this because most of the enemy placements throughout Sniper constantly respawn -- they'd only appear (or stop appearing) once I'd reached a specific checkpoint in the level. In one such situation, I managed to eliminate a group of turret gunners long before I was within range of their bullets. But because I killed them before I reached the checkpoint inside an adjacent building, new enemy soldiers continued to spawn and man the turrets once again. That makes no sense in a game that's supposed to beabout picking enemies off from long range.
The checkpoint-save system also proved problematic. In a couple of situations I hit a checkpoint while I was under enemy fire. I died, and each time I reloaded, there I was again, dying -- I had to restart the whole level. That's a classic annoying design flub.
Shadows and lightning are top notch.
There's also a fairly limited amount of area to explore through these levels. What look like possible alternate paths are frustratingly boarded up or blocked off by the charred remains of vehicles. It would have been great to have more opportunities to move between the buildings and find my own vantage points, instead being inexorably corralled into one scripted event after another.
In My Sights
There's a noticeable echo to some of the sound effects.At times Sniper looks pretty great, like when sneaking through hallways while sunbeams creep through boarded-up windows. It's no Battlefield 3 or Crysis 2, but the visuals are more than serviceable -- especially when I'm watching a bullet tear through my target's skull with the gory X-ray kill cam (reminiscent of the recent Mortal Kombat games). That initially rewarding effect grew old fairly fast, though, so I'm glad there's an option to dial it back a bit. Oddly, there's a noticeable echo to some of the sound effects, specifically voices and footsteps, that doesn't seem like it's supposed to be there. I'm not the only one running into this issue -- hopefully it's something that gets addressed in a patch.
Beyond the campaign co-op, there's deathmatch, team deathmatch, and a horde-like mode among others. But I especially liked the Bombing Run co-op mode -- my teammate and I had to sneak around a level to collect five parts for our getaway car before an allied bombing run was scheduled to decimate the area. It's a good mix of stealth and action that the single-player portion of Sniper could have benefited from as well. I never had an issue finding a multiplayer game or a co-op partner.
Considering the multiplayer aspects are the brightest spots of Sniper, it's asking price of $50 feels about $10 too high, but it's something I'd definitely consider come sale season.