Sniper Jackals down

Posted October 19th 2008

I like to tackle Tsavo Highway on foot, and without Marines tagging along in vehicles. The first group of covies is no trouble but the two sniper Jackals over the hill are a lethal danger. If you just charge over the hill and try to bring them down quick with a battle rifle, that can be a nice rush but you'll be living dangerously, especially on Heroic or Legendary where you can expect to be on the floor in approximately two microseconds - or at least, that's what it often feels like! The thought of that sudden unpleasant death often used to put me off starting the level at all. That part of the level just didn't seem designed with the possibility of foot soldiering in mind; it seemed too unfair and aggravating. But after putting my mind to it I've found two ways of killing these beaky freaks pretty reliably, even on Legendary. I'll detail them here.

You should be armed with a battle rifle, with a full clip ready. You'll get a checkpoint as you near the top of the hill, which is handy for reverting to, to practice these methods. I'd say the first is the easiest and safest.

Method 1: Using the left hillside

As you get to the top of the hill, get well over on the left slope and edge forward with battle rifle zoomed, seeking to get a Jackal's head coming into your crosshair, unobscured by any long grass in the foreground. In your sights, the hill will be rising up to the left at an angle of around forty degrees, keeping you safe from the leftmost Jackal who often seems to start off to the left of the broken gravity platform. The rightmost Jackal tends to be well out onto the pathway and can often be brought down with a single burst to the head before he's even seen you, especially if his head is sideways on. Even if he does see you, you've been careful to minimize your profile, and he can probably only see your head and right shoulder. With so little to aim for, it seems to make him more hesitant to fire. And even if he does fire, he's likely to only hit the hillside blocking most of your body. Get things right and you're not in much danger. Remember that you only need to advance far enough to get his head in your sights; you don't need to see his whole body. Keep your profile minimized!

After the first Jackal is down, you can use basically the same method with the other one, once he's out on the pathway where you can see him clearly. Sometimes he's already there, but other times he's to the left of the platform base or behind it, and needs to be lured out. You may need to give him a brief and minimal sight of yourself, after which he'll oblige. Once you see him edging out, back off to keep your profile minimized, and bring him down like you did the first. To play extra safe, you may like to back well off for a few seconds to let him come fully out. Often he'll foolishly start looking around elsewhere, giving you a nice 'free shot' when you edge forward again to seek out his head. Actually, when seeking to lure him out like this, I find it useful to switch to a weapon that can give a binocular view, letting you spot him more easily. He's often behind one of the prongs rising up from the platform base, so there's hardly anything of him to spot. Once you see where he is (good for safety), you can switch back to the rifle.

An alternative way of tackling the second Jackal is as follows, if he's not already out on the path. After the first is down, move leftwards up the hill to get a higher view, using a binocular view or zoomed rifle to try and spot your prey. He tends to skirt around the back of the platform base and end up partially hidden by a prong. You can potentially kill him straight away with multiple bursts from your battle rifle. Alternatively you could just pepper him then back off down the hill to kill him when he's out on the path, as you did the first. More fun however is to lob a well-aimed grenade, to either kill him or make him comically jump clear, at which point you can bring him down with your rifle (but as usual keeping a minimal profile, just in case he gets a shot off).

Method 2: Using the right cliffside

Just where the hill levels out, there's a huge curve of metal wreckage rising up to the right. Run along behind it, then turn left through the gap to go underneath. Keep in mind that you're briefly in a line of sight with one or both Jackals as you do this, so don't dawdle! As long as you run, you're unlikely to get spotted. You've now got a steep slope of rocky cliff on your right. Just ahead there's a big rock, blocking your view towards the Jackals. Hop onto it - you can see the overturned Warthog from here - then up onto the rocky cliff. You'll be jumping up into a sort of shallow groove.

With battle rifle zoomed, edge forward until the head of the leftmost Jackal comes into view, and bring him down. Even if he gets any shots off, he can hopefully see little more than your head and shoulders, so the risk of being hit is relatively low. The rightmost Jackal shouldn't be able to see you at all yet. With a fresh clip and zoomed rifle, edge along further. Get the next Jackal's head in your sights and bring him down like the first.

You may like to try some variations on this right-side approach. One thing you can potentially do is kill the first Jackal from that big rock you hopped up onto, after going under the wreckage. However, it's harder to keep your profile minimized there, so it's a needless risk. Another thing you can do is go further along the clifftop once you're up. From there you can potentially kill both Jackals from good cover, though I wouldn't consider it as safe as before. Drawback 1 is that you'll briefly be exposed as you move into a good position. Drawback 2 is that there are some invisible walls to contend with, so you might find yourself unable to back off when you want to (you can always crouch though, which could be sufficient to get you covered). However, in the right place invisible walls are not a problem and you can get a good position, well-protected by the curve of the cliff as you stand well back.

Here's a tip for a good place to head. After getting up from the big rock, run toward the cable that drapes down on the right (except, slightly to the right of it). When you hit an invisible wall, you should find that the Jackals are now hidden by the curve of the cliff. They may not even have spotted you as you made your run. You'll then be ready to start edging forwards to take out the leftmost Jackal. Once he's down, the rightmost one tends to retreat from the path and you can often get a few free bursts in his back as he goes. Incidentally, in this sort of position it's quite picturesque to see beam rifle shots pinging off the rock in front of you! Explore.