I have long favored the Sniper series over many other shooters out there, because the tactical gameplay of sniping (my preferred class in just about any shooter) combined with the story being told tends to keep me interested longer than the quick-twitch gameplay found in most shooters. That being said, this remaster feels jut a bit unnecessarily, despite the core experience being a solid one.
I have always viewed snipers as the thinking man’s class in the shooter genre. Of course, that mileage may vary depending on the setting / type of shooter you are playing. Call me a camper – I don’t mind, so long as it means I’m not getting shot fifteen times a game. I would much prefer to scope our the landscape, nestle into a solid vantage point and pick off my enemies from distance or call out what I’m seeing to squad mates. I do not mind that if I am doing my job well, I will have to roll to a plan B because people will figure out where I am at and act accordingly.
Of course, this approach tends to work better with boots-on-the-ground style shooters than those double-jump, wall-running, jet pack games in the genre. But these are exactly the types of scenarios that the Sniper series has always really excelled at. You follow the story of Karl Fairburne as he navigates the perils of World War II. You can document and share the experience with the newly included photo mode, which really does a nice job of taking advantage of the scenery and some of the game’s more intense moments / shots.
Where this game still works (having first released about seven years ago) is in the core mechanics. Shooting is still precise in sniper mode with its gruesome but oddly satisfying x-ray style shots. This is when the series is at its best, when you are in a perch taking on waves of enemies from extreme distances. Where things tend to get rougher around the edges is when you venture into the actual character movement, the shoot-from-the-hip bullet detection and enemies that are really pretty dumb at times. Perhaps ‘dumb’ is too harsh, but every now and then I just get a guy who is standing out in the open practically begging for a headshot, and the enemies are generally very predictable as well. Their tactics are not necessarily bad – they just lack creativity. It is in these moments that you remember just how far the series has come with its last releases, and while there are still nuggets of solid gameplay moments to be had, you do have to sift through a bit more muck to get there than the most recent iterations in the series.
Being a remaster, this game’s core engine really has not changed much based on my recollection of the original title. Missions, enemy behaviors, all of that is pretty much the same. Thankfully there are some options to adjust some of the game’s more important settings, and that does help – but the core experience is starting to show its age. There are some texture improvement to the visuals, and the audio design feels solid while this offering also comes packaged with all of the DLC that the game released with at the time as well. You can use different characters instead of Karl if you’d like, pulling in familiar faces from other Rebellion games. They make no sense from a story standpoint, and are really just reskinned characters to run around with (at least during my early testing with this, they did not even show up in the cut scenes – that was still completely Karl). Oh, and the fan favorite mode of ‘Kill Hitler’ is available in this DLC package as well. I may have taken advantage of that a time or ten.
As much as I enjoy the story modes in the Sniper games, I have never really gotten into the multiplayer component. That being said, it is nice to see that player versus player did get attention here as well, with a handful of different modes that make full use of the game’s tactical gameplay and improved audio (bullet direction is much more important against human opponents than the somewhat more predictable AI ones). With modes like capturing the flag, picking up tags and deathmatch, there is very little here that the game is offering up new (you get these modes and more in most modern shooters nowadays), but they are well-executed here.