Tag Archives: Sniping

Review – Sniper Elite 4

It’s hard to explain the appeal of the Sniper Elite series. It’s one of those gaming guilty pleasures that sounds faintly perverse written down, and utterly ludicrous spoken out loud. Not that there’s anything particularly unusual about sniping in games; almost all shooters have at least one rifle, and many have whole stretches of gameplay that are dedicated to nothing but long-range marksmanship. The sniping in and of itself, though, isn’t the appeal of Sniper Elite. Things would be so much easier if it were. But, no, there’s something else that differentiates this series from other sneaky-stabby-shooty third-person games, and it’s that psychotic slow-motion X-Ray view that lets you see all the catastrophic internal trauma you’re inflicting on your victims.

Seems an odd thing to be into, doesn’t it? Certainly wouldn’t sit well around the office water cooler or the in-law’s dinner table, and you get the sense that Rebellion, the game’s developers, probably recognise this. Which, I assume, is why they continue to set the series in World War II, despite having exhausted every major theatre of the conflict. You need Nazis for this kind of thing. These games have such a throbbing stiffy for lovingly-detailed exploding organs that it would be uncomfortable if your bullets were tunnelling through the brainpans of anyone else. But killing Nazis is always guilt-free. In the context of taking on a xenophobic imperialist war-machine, it’s actually pretty satisfying to watch precisely how much irreparable damage each bullet is inflicting on the Third Reich. That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway.

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Review – American Sniper

American Sniper opens in Iraq, with U.S. Navy SEAL sharpshooter Chris Kyle prone atop a roof, one eye to the scope of his rifle, as he provides overwatch for a convoy of United States Marines. The air, his spotter declares, “Tastes like shit”. As the armoured fighting vehicles rumble across the scorched earth and kick up columns of dust behind them, a woman and a child emerge from a nearby doorway. They are passing something between them; it looks bulbous and unsightly, like a grenade. It might be one. It might not. The kid takes it, and sets off running. Kyle, through the scope of his rifle, watches him bolt towards the convoy. His finger tightens on the trigger.

The camera pulls away before we find out whether or not Chris Kyle took that shot, and we won’t return here to get our answer for some time. But this moment of decision serves to establish all the things the movie is going to be about, and it does so with assurance. And what is American Sniper about? Not war, or terrorism, or the political and cultural changes which spiralled out of the tragic events of 9/11: it is, for better or worse, a movie about Chris Kyle.

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