Rebellion explains Sniper Elite V2 Assassinate Hitler DLC
"I suppose it's deliberately controversial."
It's been called "distasteful", "disgusting" and "bad taste", and, from another point of view, potentially "one of the most satisfying moments in gaming history!" But for its creators it's "chilling" and asks "difficult questions" of the player.
It is Sniper Elite V2's pre-order bonus DLC, an extra special mission that asks the gamer to assassinate Hitler. Right between the eyes.
"I find it quite weird," Jason Kinglsey, boss of Sniper Elite V2 developer Rebellion, tells Eurogamer.
"I haven't yet had anybody explain to me why they find assassinating a genocidal maniac to be offensive. I don't quite get the justification for that. Are they saying it's offensive because of the presence of Hitler or is it somehow we shouldn't trivialise by making it into a game?"
Set in the dying days of World War 2, bonus level Assassinate The Führer allows players to intercept a train carrying the moustachioed menace. Disrupt Hitler's train and he will flee on foot, heading for the train platform. This is when you must strike.
Some Eurogamer readers reacted negatively to the DLC announcement. Some thought it sounded like fun. Others were ambivalent.
Either way, Kingsley admits Assassinate The Führer is a deliberate attempt to drum up controversy and thus interest in the game.
"Quite frankly, it is a commercial enterprise," he said. "We're trying to get attention for the game. We're working with 505 and they're not the biggest of publishers with the deepest of pockets. So whatever we can do to get attention for what is an incredibly brilliant game, is good. The more people can hear about it the better, as far as I'm concerned.
"If some people go, I'm not buying that game because I'm offended by the idea of shooting a genocidal maniac in the head, then so be it. But maybe a lot of people go, actually, that's kind of fun and cool. I'd like to shoot a genocidal maniac in the head.
"I suppose it's deliberately controversial. We thought it was going to be an interesting piece for the press, and we found it very interesting ourselves. It wasn't something we just casually did. We thought about it. We talked about it. We discussed the whys and the wherefores."
Hitler has appeared in a number of video games down the years, perhaps most famously as a boss in iD Software FPS Wolfenstein 3D.
In that game, you simply had to shoot the Nazi troublemaker over and over again until he collapsed in a pool of blood. In Sniper Elite V2, however, you have to carefully line up your shots before taking them, plotting your angle of approach with the utmost of care until... BANG, slow motion headshot.
"Quite frankly, it is chilling," Kingsley said. "It's actually not a trivial thing to do. As a piece of content, as a piece of art, it does of course ask difficult questions of the viewer. Would you have taken the shot if you had known? In a way, the controversy is a good thing because it makes people think."
Lead producer Steve Hart added: "You make a sniping game, it's all about your targets, and Hitler has to be the ultimate target in any war game. He has to be."