I recently played through an oldie but a goldie, Sniper Elite V2. Its story, graphics, and sound were decent for its time, but none of the traditional things struck me as extraordinary. However, I noticed that as I was playing through, I found myself replaying levels often. I had this need for perfection, to not be seen or heard or shot. You can make it through the game firing loudly so long as you have good aim, but I kept on restarting levels. What I realize now is that the gameplay mechanics of Sniper Elite 2 are made so that you want to play like a sniper. This isn’t meant to be Call of Duty. It’s meant to be a tactical stealthy sniper game.
The reality of being a sniper is that you are meant to be the first one to spot and shoot the enemies. Stealth and precision are the names of the game. In Sniper Elite V2, you are persuaded to be stealthy, taking out enemies one by one. If you make noise or get spotted, a whole onslaught of Germans will attack. Now I played on one of the easier difficulties, so the enemies had the aim of stormtroopers. Most of the time I could fight the enemies head on with my sniper or Tommy gun and live to tell the tale. However, a lot of the times I restarted as soon as I got spotted. Why?
It didn’t feel authentic. Snipers aren’t supposed to be caught. Using my Tommy gun felt wrong. I wanted to play the game for crazy sniper shots, not a spray and pray battle against bots. I really enjoyed timing shots with bombs falling, so the explosions would conceal the ring of my shot. It felt like something out of a movie, and it felt impactful. Doing so was very rewarding, as highlighted by the slo-mo sniper shots. Nothing cool happens if you shoot an enemy with a machine gun because you are not a gunner, but a sniper!
I also restarted a lot when I got shot by enemy snipers. I never died to them one shot when I was on the easier difficulty, but in reality, if I’m against a decent sniper I’m dead. I want it to be like that scene in Saving Private Ryan with the sniper in the church tower. I want to spot, sneak, and kill the sniper without him knowing what hit him. It stinks because the snipers are always in the same spot, so I get an unfair advantage when I restart. I could just run in the middle of a town, get shot by snipers, live, and hide and kill them. I didn’t do that because it didn’t feel right. Something about searching building windows for scope flashes, positioning yourself for a perfect shot, and firing a lead bullet into enemies heads felt so real.
There are often many ways you can play through a game, whether that be different classes in an RPG or different choices in a story driven game. In Sniper Elite 2, although you have choices, I found that playing the game authentically gives the player a better experience.