This is a special year for early 20th century history buffs. It marks the 100th year since the start of the First World War (otherwise known as The Great War) as well as the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day landings of World War II.
Many Horrible and Wonderful things came from these two global conflicts. On the one hand we’ve got the terrible and enormous loss of life that came from both conflicts with over 37 million civilian and service casualties from the first and over 60 million from the second. On the other hand we benefitted from these wars by such things as Canada realising its national identity with the strategic capture of Vimy Ridge on April 12th 1917 eventually leading to it becoming its own nation, as well as the post WWII forming of the United Nations in 1947 with the mandate to promote global peace and security.
As gamers we have seen hundreds of games based off these two conflicts. Sometimes coming off as silly, others have romanticized the wars, while others have turned them into ridiculous arcade shooters.
With this in mind I picked up two games from the Xbox One Marketplace this week which will be the feature of my next two articles. The first game I will be writing about is Sniper Elite 3. While I am aware that this game is what could be easily classified as a brainless shooter, at the same time it gives us a chance to see an area of the Second World War that is not often covered; The North African campaign.
So before I get into my favorite features about this game, let’s get a brief history. Starting on the 10th of June in 1940 the North African Campaign started with the Italians declaring war on the allies and joining the axis troops in their fight across Europe. On the 14th of June British troops assaulted and captured the Italian fort Capuzzo in Libya. This led to many skirmishes back and forth before the defeat of the Italian 10th Army in December 1940. During this time Field Marshall Erwin Rommel - known during the war as the Desert Fox (Wüstenfuchs) – was deployed with the German Afrika Korps to reinforce the Italian lines and ensure German victory.
And the Allies were having none of that
Many more battles were fought with victories and losses on both sides including the famous Battle of El Alamein where Axis forces were pushed back to Tunisia by British forces under command of Lieutenant-General Montgomery. In 1942 after the success of Operation Torch, Allied Forces managed to surround Axis Forces in Tunisia, which resulted in German troops being diverted from the European campaign which in turn eased the burden for Allied troops to start taking European objectives. The eventual Allied victory in Africa led to a later victory against the fascist Italian government which resulted in one less ally for the German war effort.
Anywho….. now that I’ve bored some of you half to death and caused the rest of you to start looking up more information on the North African Campaign, let’s get to some features in Sniper Elite 3 which are just awesome
I figured I’d start by sneaking into the first feature of Sniper Elite that I really enjoyed. That feature is stealth. Now those of you who’ve read my Watch Dogs article are very aware that I love stealthy gameplay, I love sneaking in and taking people out before they have the chance to say “My goodness! I’ve suddenly got this horrible headache that kind of feels like someone shot me in the head!” At the same time you are likely aware that I find failed stealth attempts very sloppy and sometimes end up rage restarting levels after one slip up.
Ah dammit! I really have to sneeze!
Sniper Elite is really great for this kind of stuff. You’ve got many stealthy options at your disposal, be it creeping up on perimeter guards under cover of darkness and snapping their necks, or placing a well-placed shot in their brain pan with the silent welrod pistol. Other options include sabotaging generators to make them clang and bang or taking advantage of backfiring vehicles engines or other background noises such as artillery fire or aircraft flying overhead to fire off sniper shots without the enemy hearing anything. Other options at your disposal are throwing rocks and setting off explosives to lure Axis troops away from your location without revealing your position.
You know what really helps to make a great stealth game? Open ended maps that give you more than one way to approach your objective. Sniper Elite 3 delivers on this in a much greater way than its previous entry. Every level is open and easy to navigate, has plenty of places to snipe from and manned by proper patrols by enemy troops.
Aside from the obvious benefits of open levels with multiple paths, players also have to be aware of the world around them. In Sniper Elite 3 it’s never a good idea to forget the world around you as you set up that perfect shot. Make sure to set up traps near any entrances to your post before scanning for targets with your binoculars. Case in point: When I first started the game I had found the perfect sniping spot early in a level. Having gone prone and started looking for targets however, I ended up forgetting about the patrol that was walking through the area. Next thing I know I’m getting a hello-how-are-ya from an MP-40 in the rear because I wasn’t looking behind me or setting traps.
And then I had to introduce myself and make friends
You know what makes an even better stealth game? The ability to tackle the story with two operatives instead of one. Let me just get the gushing out of the way. OH. MY. GOD! I LOVE COOPERATIVE GAMES!!!
Ok..... I'm done......
Are you still here?
Ahem.... where was I? Oh yes, cooperative sniping. It is absolutely the bees knees. Imagine the following; you are sneaking up on a German airbase under cover of night fall. There are guards everywhere. A plane flies overhead and suddenly a German who had been sneaking up on you falls to the ground dead, surprising the hell out of you. Turns out the sound of the sniper round had been masked by the sound of the plane that was flying overhead.
Your friend comes over the game chat and says, “Don't worry buddy, I've got you covered.” He then pops out his trusty binoculars and marks 3 bad guys that you may or may not have been aware of that are alarmingly close to your position. It's this kind of gameplay that makes the coop mode very VERY satisfying. Another satisfying thing is splitting up and taking separate objectives together, and setting up sniping posts, then taking turns spotting and sniping.
“Ok here's the plan. I'll cover you while you give Rommel an atomic wedgie.”
#1 Slow Motion Sniper Kills (Crotch Ballistics)
I have to admit I was hesitant to put this feature into the article at first because I didn't want to irritate my editor. However when I mentioned some of the more fun things you can do with slow motion x-ray bullet cams, my editor was absolutely thrilled with the idea. Here's his exact reaction to my email after I'd shown him a video of a sniper shot to the balls:
“That's the best thing I've seen all day... or week for that matter... Possibly my life.”
So here's what he was so excited about. See Sniper Elite 3 has a nifty little feature where if you score a really awesome kill or a particularly nasty shot, you get rewarded with a slow motion camera that follows the bullet all the way from your rifle and into the squishy vital areas of your target. Just for a bonus, the previously mentioned squishy areas are shown in X-ray so you can see the full effect of your aim.
You sick, sick bastard
Sniper Elite 3 is fun for the whole fam.....errr for the sick bastard in all of us. It's a lot of fun going through the game blasting hapless bad guys to bits in various cruel and unusual ways, be it sticking a knife in a guys ear or sniping his gonads from 200 meters. It's not got the best story nor is it particularly accurate historically, but that doesn't stop it from being a ball of ridiculous fun. Playing with friends is really enjoyable as well as sharing stories of awesome shots you have taken during solo play. Not to mention the satisfaction of spotting and sniping and successfully finishing a mission together. If you haven't played Sniper Elite I'd highly recommend you pick it up. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go blow this guy's mind.