Review: Sniper Elite V2
Sniper Elite V2 is a remake of Rebellion Development's 2005 action game, Sniper Elite. As such, it's labelled as a reboot of the game rather than a sequel. Does it do enough to better its predecessor and give you reason to turn away from all those modern shooters out there? Read on to find out.
- Worth The Time?It does reasonably well as a fun distraction, but nothing more.
- Things LovedSniping is fun, the bulletcam is priceless, nutshots are a thing of cringe-inducing hilarity, the gameplay is simple but manages to be enjoyable at times, setting traps can be cool, the visuals are pretty decent.
- Things HatedThe game is extremely repetitive, apart from sniping the rest of the game is average or worse, the stealth is basic and flawed, the game hardly exploits the mechanics that make it fun, on-the-ground shooting is frustrating, enemies are canon fodder, despite the sniping being enjoyable the novelty can wear off easily which then makes the game overly dull, no competitive multiplayer for consoles - only PC, the high price for little reward.
- RecommendationThere's not much to write home about here, and the game doesn't do much to justify the high price you pay for it. If you really want to play this, I'd strongly urge you to rather wait and get it for cheaper or just rent it, otherwise it would be best to hold out for something better.
- Name: Sniper Elite V2
- Genre: Third Person Tactical Shooter
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: Co-op (2 players), Online
- Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
- Developer: Rebellion Developments
- Publisher: Rebellion Developments, 505 Games
- Price: R326 (PC), R542 (PS3, 360)
- Reviewed On: PC, Xbox 360
Sniper Elite V2 on the outset seemed to have the ingredients for a winning formula for me, because I’m a real sucker for stealth, tactics and sniping. And I can’t say that I wasn’t curious about revisiting the World War II era for reasons I can’t fathom. But at the very least, this game looked good for a few hours of light entertainment, and in the end that’s actually what it turned out to be. However, it isn’t really quality entertainment, and it’s not a quality game. In fact it only really has one or two things going for it, and if you strip those away then there isn’t anything else really worth talking about with this one. Still, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have some sadistic fun with this game, and that boils entirely down to its sniping gameplay, which is very enjoyable, even if it is only a novelty that doesn’t really last.
The game is a remake of Rebellion Development’s 2005 stealth action title, Sniper Elite. They call it a reboot rather than a sequel, but either way you look at it, the game still has a history. Anyway, the game takes place during the final days of World War II, and serves as a build-up to the Cold War. You take on the role of sniper Karl Fairburne, an OSS officer who has a special talent for killing Nazi’s and shooting his enemies in the testicles. The story will have you encounter both Nazi and Soviet opponents as Karl tracks down key players involved in the development of the V-2 ballistic missile, and the idea of the game is pretty much to assassinate every living organism within range of a Sniper rifle. However, I will admit that I initially wanted to play this game because an early trailer led me to believe that I was going to hilariously be shooting Adolf Hitler in the nutsack, so I was pretty upset to discover that assassinating that particular man is a privilege, so to speak, only given to those who pre-order the game.
There’s honestly no reason to talk about the story, so I won’t. There are some Nazis and you have a Sniper rifle. That’s the entire sum of it, and that’s all you need really. So onto the main event we go, which is the gameplay. You’ll be disappointed if you’re coming here expecting to find a game that heavily emphasises stealth and tactical sniping, because that’s not what this game is. It’s purely an action game with only some primitive stealth, made fun by its rewarding sniping mechanic that can vary in challenge depending on how you adjust the difficulty settings. The sniping is naturally the highlight of the game, and probably the only one at that, as it can be challenging or simple fun, with the adjustable difficulty settings making sniping either more or less realistic depending on what you fancy. The harder you make it, the more factors like wind and bullet dipping will have to be taken into account, and the more accurate you’ll have to be in placing your shots. If I were you though I’d keep the enemies at normal difficulty, because it only takes a few shots to take you down and enemies are stupid enough on any difficulty as it is, so you wouldn’t want to make this game more of a cover shooter than it already is and take out the sniping fun. I raised sniping to the highest difficulty for the immersion and challenge, but kept enemy AI at normal to reduce frustration. It paid off in making things mildly entertaining.
For most of the game you’ll be on foot as a mobile sniper, as your cover usually gets blown quickly in each mission, especially since only your pistol is silenced, so a single shot from your sniper rifle pretty much alerts the entire world and reveals your location. I fancied the silenced pistol, but your sneaking speed is painfully slow, while walking is loud and gets the attention of most nearby enemies. It may be realistic, but it’s not fun. Furthermore, there aren’t a whole lot of opportunities to take the stealthy approach and often enough the mechanics are too dry and primitive to remain enjoyable, as it basically boils down to your silenced pistol, taking forever to sneak across a room and maybe getting to do one or two stealth melee kills. You could always revert to your second option, which is to play this game purely like a third person shooter and use machine guns, but that will prove to be the most frustrating approach because your accuracy with these guns is unbelievably atrocious. Even firing in short bursts of two or three shots at a time isn’t wholly accurate, and a lot of the blame can be put on your ridiculously oversized and inaccurate crosshair. But naturally, enemies can hit you from a million miles away with the same guns with hardly any trouble. So there’s not much joy in playing the game like this.
That leaves sniping and using items and traps, both of which will be your source of fun in this game. With the latter, you’ll get to plant dynamite, throw rocks to cause distractions or grenades to kill, set trip mines and make use of land mines. Sadly though, there are hardly any good moments to make use of traps, as very few levels allow you to be all that tactical. The best enjoyment I found was sniping from a vantage point but covering my back with trip mines, and admittedly there is an enjoyable degree of satisfaction involved in hearing the wire being tripped in that joyful moment before the explosion triggers and your Nazi friends get sent to a far away land. But really, apart from the dull shooting and stealth mechanics, and the few short-lived thrills that traps can bring, as they aren’t that big a part of gameplay, the only element left is that of sniping. Fortunately, it manages to keep the game afloat reasonably well, but since it’s the only novelty here, it gradually loses most of its appeal.
The sniping is really fun in the early stages of the game though, particularly because of the awesome visual effects, kill camera and the hilarious but oh-so-brutal level of gore. Pulling off a good, fatal shot will cause the game to focus on your bullet and you’ll get to see it fly through the air and eventually hit its target. The game will literally put an X-ray filter over the enemy you hit, allowing you to see your bullet tear apart your target’s vital organs and shatter bone. It’s quite thrilling and sadistically pleasing often enough, but after seeing it for the entirety of the game, it does just degrade into a worn out novelty. However, the best moments of the system are naturally long-range spectacular shots, taking out two enemies with a single bullet and of course, testicle shots. If you have the stomach for it, I guarantee you’ll be laughing your ass off as the X-ray filter shows your target’s skeletal nutsack area explode. However, there’s not a whole lot else to say about it, because once the novelty of the sniping fades, then the rest of the game you’re left with is pretty much average or worse. The game doesn’t really exploit the mechanics that make it fun, namely sniping, and those that should make it fun but don’t, such as setting traps and using stealth and tactics. It’s really a missed opportunity.
The single player campaign is fairly lengthy, which counts against it a little bit considering that it runs dry quite quickly. However, there’s also a multiplayer mode to tackle once you’re done. What’s curious though is that only the PC version of the game has competitive multiplayer, while the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions don’t. They do have the co-op modes though, but it’s really strange why the other is missing. But in all honesty, it just makes it even less worth it to buy this game, and the multiplayer is hardly something exciting to keep you playing. There are four co-op modes, but they’re not really that interesting to be honest. Firstly, you can play the main campaign co-op, which I suppose is the best option since you’ll get to revive each other and make the experience entertaining for yourselves.
Next on the list of co-operative game modes is Kill Tally, which is just a standard survival mode against waves of enemies. There’s Bombing Run, which just has you survive and recover parts to construct an escape vehicle before the area you’re in explodes. Lastly, there’s Overwatch, which sounds like a cool idea on paper, but in implementation it isn’t really. One player poses as the sniper, and the other plays as a foot soldier to spot enemies, but seriously now, with the terrible on-foot shooting mechanics, who would want to be that guy on the ground? I can’t really see these modes as all that enticing. As for the competitive online, which again is strangely for the PC version only, you can choose to play either Deathmatch or a mode called Distance King, where the player with the longest distance kill at the end takes home the prize, regardless of how many enemies have been taken out by others. Both of these game modes can be played with teams. Only you can judge the appeal from these modes, but I couldn’t really see much reason to stick around and keep playing after I finished the single player campaign.
When it comes to graphics, Sniper Elite V2 is actually pretty decent looking, with the sniping visual and sound effects and gory kills taking the spotlight. The environments are nicely detailed, and can be quite vast and spacious in certain levels. I did find myself wishing for more open battlefields like this though, because long distance sniping is an enjoyable part of this title. The game won’t really win any awards for its visuals, but it’s generally pleasing to look at and sniping wouldn’t have been so enjoyable without the X-ray filter gloriously showing off the damage your shots do to your enemies. It would be best to say that the graphics overall are quite satisfying, and are neither a high or low point of the game.
Sniper Elite V2 has its moments of glory and it can be fun to play, but overall it’s a below average and rather empty game that doesn’t leave any lasting impression. It definitely doesn’t do a whole lot to justify its price tag either, but it does provide a few worthy hours of light entertainment at best.