Don’t you just hate snipers? They’re hard to spot in the grass, they shoot you just as you believe you’re safe and they deny you your desired memorabilia and cheap electronics on eBay at the very last second. Losing out on that bargain Logitech G15 keyboard aside, my main gripe about snipers recently is the domination of the class in multiplayer games.
Randomly dying during your daily routine is quite a hard concept to grasp, as I’m fairly confident the majority of people haven’t had it happen to them - at least not more than once. Processing this when it happens to you in a game can be an uncomfortable experience, and after multiple instances, all of the confusion and frustration can funnel itself into a vein of anger which spills out your mouth and down your chest as a gently warmed bile. And then it will happen again.
Getting killed repeatedly in the same mysterious manner is never a fun thing, but as virtual battlefields get larger and more densely populated with thick tree lines and pixel perfect grass that sways naturally, there is an increasing number of places where random death can travel from.
Snipers can really make or break the game experience for either team. Whilst they are useful for scouting out areas and providing intel to team mates, the majority of people who choose to be snipers are socially awkward silent types who are in it for the statistical benefits of being a harbinger of death.
Bad Company 2 is a prime example of why I hate the sniper class. Snipers in this game can mark enemies with their scopes and thin out the pack when it comes to picking off the occasional distant foe. Alarm bells start ringing however when over a third of the team has chosen to go sniper, and sits nice and immobile 500 metres from combat on a hill. This phenomenon is especially bad when they are supposed to be the attacking team with an objective to accomplish. The entire thing turns into a bit of a snipe off which goes against the fast pace nature and rolling frontline that the game strives for.
Another issue is that when the other team has a better sniper who whittles down those who sit in the same spot with every life and then seem perplexed when they die. When your team only has a limited number of lives, it is the complete opposite of helpful to join the legions of hill folk that think they are doing well because they are top of the scoreboard.
As I have mentioned in a previous blog, games that have introduced kill streak rewards are just compounding the problem. Rewarding someone for getting several kills in a row without dying is just going to encourage snipers to sit in their fox holes with piss flasks and tea pots at the ready.
I suppose that the real rage for snipers comes from those who have all the patience of a lit stick of dynamite, who don’t enjoy spending the game with their heads down, so instead spend it at the respawn screen. I’d just like to see an online FPS that doesn’t feature sniper rifles at all. Just full on, tense shootouts that take place in improbably small rooms filled to the brim with combustible furniture. Only then I’d be writing a blog about grenades and how there should be an online game where everyone only has a knife and a box of matches.