Everybody wants to be a sniper, it doesn’t matter what game you play, Call of Duty, Battlefield, Counter Strike, you name it; there will always be an abundance of snipers in the same old hiding spots, racking up kills until someone has the brains to take them out. So it makes sense to release a “sniper” action game, with Sniper Elite finally getting an updated version for home consoles. But with so many World War 2 shooters out there, how does Sniper Elite V2 compare?
Set during 1945, the Americans have started to accept surrendering scientists for their own programs as the Germans make a full retreat into Berlin. You play as an American Officer who has been sent behind enemy lines to capture or kill the remaining scientists, who are working on V2 Rockets loaded with deadly nerve gas.
The aim of this third person shooter is to sneak through levels undetected; not setting off alarms and using environmental noises to cover you own rifle shots. When it works it works really well, though all too often it will fall apart into more of a poorly executed cover based shooter. Armed with a rifle, machine gun, pistol and a few other handy items, you need to infiltrate an assortment of German compounds, retrieving information on both the scientists and the V2 rockets. Environments like war torn streets, a museum and a rocket building complex all require you to take your time, a key factor in this game, allowing you to study the map, using binoculars to find cover an also mark off enemies. As you set up your plan of attack, defence is also key, especially when planning for extraction, using your extra items like trip wires in doorways and land mines to cover your back. Once you start moving around the map, the enemy are pretty much always on guard, walking through pre-determined routes or standing guard at a door you need to get through. For the stealth option you can try and throw a rock to gain their attention so they turn their back on you, use a silenced pistol to drop them where they are or more satisfying, take a ranged shot with your rifle. This is where the game really works well with some very realistic ballistic effects making you take into consideration wind and gravity for the longer shots. The game has a few difficulty settings, each assisting you mainly with the physics of the game with easy not requiring much thought and the medium settings offering you a few pointers like a suggesting where to aim when you hold your breath and enter Focus Time.
Get a decent shot and you are rewarded with a slow motion replay of your bullet as it fly’s through the air and when it reaches it’s intended target the game will give an internal view, a X-Ray kill cam CSI style representation of the bullet slowly ripping through the body, be it though the eye, chest or legs, it’s quite satisfying, especially when you hit more than one target with one bullet.
Sniper Elite V2 manages to create a decent overall scene with a fitting setting that allows for plenty of ducking and diving through enemy territory whilst carrying out vital missions. However, after a short while you realise the game does not feel as complete as it should, with a world that at first looks quite open, but in reality is very confined and corridor like, only really allowing one way to complete the objectives; trying to go off the beaten path will result in plenty of shut doorways, invisible barriers and spawning enemies appearing in rooms you have just cleared out. The cover system also feels a little dated when compared to more recent games with you needing to push a button to gain cover rather than a fluid auto system offed by most games now which is a little twitchy at best, leaving you in plain sight all too often. The ability to go prone and is also a great addition but spoilt when you have trouble crawling up even the slightest incline.
Though stealth is pushed foremost inevitably in Sniper Elite V2, the sneaky approach will ultimately turn into a full on fire fight and in turn, a bit of a mess, most of the time resulting in a quick death, having you reach for the reset button rather than battle your way through the incoming enemy troops. There is a checkpoint system but it is very inconsistent with its pacing, plus if it saves a state during you being spotted, it will always start with troops in high alert. The enemy intelligence is a mixed bag of diving for cover and running straight into your line of fire. Cool touches like running out of cover to shoulder carry an injured soldier works well but at times you can drop an enemy and the person right next to them won’t even flinch.
To offer a bit more replay value Sniper Elite v2 has a few single player challenges to try out plus littered around all of the levels are gold bars to collect and bottles to shoot; getting to these offers a little more of a challenge and they are often slightly away from the main action down some side street, balcony or roof, requiring an eagles eye to spot them and nerves of steel to collect as they are usually near expecting enemies.
Online offers a few decent game modes to try out but are only two player only and to be honest, you are best with a like-minded friend to partner you, working side by side in campaign co-op missions or horde style wave attacks in Kill Tally, collecting parts in Bombing Run and playing as either a spotter or a shooter in Overwatch. These are fun, if short lived modes but sadly there is no Vs mode; I agree that a mode like this would have been a slow match but it would still be fun for those who want it, namely most sniper fans.
The game really tries for all-out stealth but at the same time attempts to cater for the gung-ho mentality of the more common shooter and it seems to have trouble separating the two. e.g An achievement popped for me for “Covertly killing 25 enemies”, this unlocked when I was in plane sight of 15 troops using a mounted machine gun to mow down them and their incoming trucks?
Sniper Elite V2 is a game where you will die an awful lot thanks to tricky placed enemy snipers and a slightly botched cover mechanic. It may not be perfect, but if you really want some decent sniper action this is your best choice at the moment.
Rating: GoodReview Policy(version tested: Xbox 360)
Sniper Elite V2 is available for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. Order from ShopTo for a bonus dlc rifle.