Sniper Elite V2 Review
Did you see that one? Right between the eyes.
Earlier this month, Rebellion released Sniper Elite V2, a remake of their 2005 WW2 sniping game. Having not played the original game, I went into this one with a clean slate and an open mind about what I was about to experience. After it was all said and done, I enjoyed my time behind the scope, even if the lens was a little dirty.
In Sniper Elite V2, you play as Karl Fairburne, a United States OSS Officer at the end of WW2 whose mission is to stop a group of German Scientists from defecting to Russian Forces, who want their knowledge to manufacture the highly dangerous V-2 Rockets. Karl is tasked with eliminating these Scientists before their life’s work falls into the wrong hands. You’ll spend most of your time hiding in the shadows or behind cover, looking down the scope of your trusty Sniper Rifle, waiting for the perfect time to take your shot.
When you do take your shot, you are in for some of the best kill cams you’ll ever witness. When you hit that perfect shot, the X-Ray kill cam kicks in and slows down with the bullet as it travels to your target. When the bullet enters your victim’s body, if it’s a vital shot to an organ, you will see x-ray vision of the bullet passing through their body. These are some of the most gruesome and violent kill cams I’ve ever seen, with bones breaking and blood exploding from the wounds. It also seems to happen at random, as I’ve had headshots right between the eyes and the kill cam not kick in, and then other times when I’ve hit an enemy in the legs it will show up. I don’t know if it’s buggy, or just really picky about what shots will enter the kill cam. All I do know is that when it does work, it’s pretty awesome.
The campaign is a decent length, which should run you anywhere from 8-10 hours, depending on the difficulty you play on. Speaking of the difficulty, Sniper Elite V2 features a really neat feature when it comes to selecting how hard you want the game to be. You can pick from Easy, Medium or Hard, but then you can also customize the difficulty if you want. You can alter the Enemy Skill, Ballistic Realism and the Tactical Assistance. The Ballistic Realism will adjust how much the wind and distance affect your shot, and how steady you are when looking down your scope. The Tactical Assistance option includes a ghost image that will appear to show where your last known position was to an enemy, so you can sit back and wait for them to get close to that spot and then take them out. It also includes aim assist which shows a new cross-hair to help you aim after taking distance and wind into account. Both of these are great features to use, but are turned off on the hardest difficulty, so you can still make the enemies harder and still have these cool features by playing on a custom difficulty, which I thought was a really cool idea. Another small gameplay feature that I really liked was that you can throw rocks to distract an enemy and then sneak around them, or take them out silently. It reminded me of knocking in Metal Gear Solid and is a fun little trick you can play on your enemies.
Even though it is primarily a sniping game, Sniper Elite V2 allows you to use a Sub-Machine Gun, a Handgun and some other items such as Trip-Wires and Grenades as well, which helps make it less of a sniping simulation and more of a regular cover-based shooter, just with a slightly larger focus on sniping. The downside is that the game is much more difficult if you decide to just run around with your SMG as you lose the element of surprise. I found it was best to only pull out the SMG in a worst case scenario, such as having a bunch of enemies get too close to your location and sniping isn’t the best option anymore. Using a Pistol on the other hand should be better, especially if it has a silencer on it, but the cross-hairs with a Pistol aren’t very precise and you can end up with a lot of missed shots. The reason for this is that cross-hair is really wide, with no dot or anything in the center, so it’s hard to really get a good shot lined up and even when I thought I had an enemy lined perfectly, it would still miss on occasion. It didn’t happen all of the time, but it was enough to make me think twice before pulling the Pistol out.
Sniper Elite V2 also suffers from a few other issues, such as weird AI behavior and dated graphics. Most of the time the enemy AI works well, but they do tend to do some really weird things from time to time. One time, I had an enemy on a turret just sit there and stare at me as I got closer and closer and not shoot a single bullet. I walked right up in front of him and just stood there, and nothing. As soon as I zoomed in on him, he shot me dead right away. I’ve also seen enemies try to run through closed doors, and just repeatedly bounce up against it, as if they were trying to break it down, but it wasn’t going to budge. I’ve never seen them break a door down, so I don’t think that it’s something that will ever happen, no matter how hard or long they try. It’s not all the time, but you should expect to see some AI issues here and there.
As for the graphics, I’ve played the game on both PC and the Xbox 360 and even though everyone will say “PC always has better graphics!”, the PC version was far superior. I know the PC does normally have better graphics, but this was to the extreme in my opinion. The Xbox 360 graphics aren’t the worst I’ve ever seen, but they are far from the standard of a game released in 2012, and the PC version looks really nice. It’s not something that I normally care about if the game is still fun, and Sniper Elite V2 does fall into that category, but it is noticeable enough that I thought it was worth mentioning.
The console version of Sniper Elite V2 doesn’t feature any competitive multiplayer modes like the PC version does (yes, we think it’s weird too that they would leave it off the console version), but it does feature some great cooperative modes. To start with, you and another player can play through the entire single player campaign together, which is always a bonus. Then there are three cooperative challenge modes; Kill Tally, Bombing Run and Overwatch. Kill Tally is a fairly standard wave-based survival mode, where the goal is to see how many waves you can survive. Bombing Run tasks you to find vehicle parts to repair your escape vehicle before your area is littered with explosions, and Overwatch, which was my favorite of the challenge modes, is a series of objective based missions that you must complete with one player as a Sniper and the other as the Operative. The Operative must move around on the streets, completing objectives and tagging enemies with the binoculars, so that the Sniper can clear the way. These missions can be quite challenging, but thankfully there are checkpoints so you don’t have to restart the whole mission if one of you dies.
The PC version on the other hand features both Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch with a handful of maps available at launch. Since I have the console version I wasn’t able to play these modes for the review and it doesn’t factor into the overall experience or score, and I think it could be fun for a little while, but I don’t see it taking me away from the other shooters that I play for very long. Both versions feature the online co-op modes, so that’s more than enough for me as I’d much rather play through the campaign with a friend for this type of game.
In a month full of Third-Person Shooters, such as Starhawk, Max Payne 3 and Ghost Recon Future Soldier, Sniper Elite V2 is at the bottom of the stack, but it shouldn’t be completely overlooked either. It may not look or play as good as those other games, but it has plenty of great co-op modes, gruesome kill cams and a decent overall campaign. Anyone who’s done playing those other games, and wants a new co-op shooter, or if you are just a big fan of sniping, then Sniper Elite V2 is worth checking out.