Sniper Elite V2 Review
Written Sunday, May 20, 2012 By Lee Abrahams
It seems that certain gaming buzzwords are almost a guarantee for success when it comes to sales and, without a doubt, 'sniper' is right up there. In fact it's only a matter of time before Call of Duty: Ninja Sniper Assassin is released and sends the global economy into total meltdown, though as long as they remember who came up with that idea first and reimburse them appropriately, then all will be well. Thankfully Sniper Elite V2 sticks purely with the sniper premise, rather than all the other stuff that some idiot decided to mention, and the idea of creeping around war torn Germany with only a finely honed rifle for company is certainly an appealing one.
Picking up at the end of World War II, your job is to track down and take out a bunch of high end Nazi scientists that are attempting to defect to Soviet Russia. Obviously there are a few twists and turns strewn along the way to keep things interesting, but while the story may well stray into tried and tested cliché every now and then, it doesn’t stop the game from delivering a well crafted yarn. Of course the whole set up is merely a ploy that sees our lone soldier snipe and sneak his way through a variety of battlefields.
"Get used to seeing a lot of your scope."
While most games have a mixture of difficulty levels, Sniper Elite V2 really only has one. Sure you can mess around in either Cadet or Marksman difficulty, but doing so means that you miss out on the game's main selling point: realistic and satisfying sniping. On the lower difficulties you can pretty much line up each and every shot with unwavering perfection, causing the grisly kill cam to click into slow motion action with alarming regularity. Sure there is some fun to be had from offing enemies this way, but there is also a distinct lack of challenge and entertainment too.
Take on the game in Sniper Elite difficulty and you have to take a lot more time and effort over each shot. Finding the perfect spot, steadying your breathing, leading the target and then taking into account the effects of wind and gravity – all for just one bullet and one kill. The fact that the kill cam displays your best work in all of its awesome, ghastly glory is just the icing on the cake. Having to make each shot count means you really have to work for your kills, ramping up the tension and gratification behind each and every successful snipe. It's certainly a step up from the bland and simplistic fare if you tackle the game on the lower settings.
While popping bullets into enemy heads from halfway across the map is immensely gratifying, the rest of the game doesn’t seem to fit together quite so well. A large chunk of your time will be spent sneaking around, trying to avoid foes to the best of your ability, and the mechanics involved are bizarre to say the least. Light and dark seem to play zero part in whether you are discovered or not and enemies seem to have pretty much no peripheral vision. It means that you can often sneak across an open street in broad daylight, or have them walk within inches of you in a fairly well lit corridor and not be seen. The problem really comes when you eventually do get spotted, as once your foes are roused they seem to be able to make a psychic beeline for your exact location regardless of whether they or someone half a mile in the other direction spotted you. It’s a frustrating set up and even more so on the higher difficulties when they seem able to pick you off at will.
"Nothing says ‘headshot’ like a grisly X-ray."
Outside of sniping foes you can also take them on with your regular machine gun and pistol, and the game throws in a rather hit and miss cover mechanic so you can grab some handy cover in such eventualities. Unfortunately all the care and precision that goes into sniping foes is thrown out of the window for the other weapons, and the controls when you are up close and personal feel a lot more restrictive. Sure you can also set up trip wires to cover your escape or place landmines should you so desire, but such planning rarely comes to the fore and you are never given enough tools to make it feel like a proper part of your arsenal. If the game had stuck to the sniping mechanics and toned down on the more superficial action sequences it would have probably been a lot better for it.
Thankfully the main campaign offers plenty of fun set pieces for you to test your prowess against and it never stops being entertaining despite the flaws. Outside of the story the only other modes to take your fancy are the co-op missions that see you and a partner tackling waves of foes or various objectives. It would have been nice to take a buddy into the story mode, either as back up or a ground-based spotter to help with the rather underused enemy tagging mechanic, but the extra modes are a neat diversion if a tad buggy in places. Of course, while they are fun for a short time they don’t help to expand the package much beyond a relatively short story that you probably won’t be in a rush to rediscover anytime soon.
"Look out below! Falling bullets!"
On the plus side you can expect to rack up a plethora of trophies in relatively short order, as most of your points merely require you to make your way through the game. More points are on offer for a variety of trick shots, killing certain numbers of enemies and finding hidden Nazi gold or caches of booze to blow apart. A few are allocated to the co-op modes too, so be sure to bring along a pal if you want to snag that sparkly Platinum. It’s a nice enough list and simple to boot, though snagging the trophy for completing the game on Elite difficulty can be an effort in frustration and repetition. Man up soldier and take those saps down – preferably from a long way away.
Sniper Elite V2 is a bit of a surprise if truth be told, as while it's blatantly a one trick pony the atmosphere and tension never seem to drop and the satisfaction with each and every kill is just second to none. It’s such a shame that once you engage in combat without the scope things get so disappointing, not to mention the frankly awful stealth mechanics and almost supernatural enemy AI on the higher difficulties. On the whole though Sniper Elite V2 makes taking on the Nazi war machine a supremely satisfying experience assuming you tackle it as it was meant to be played. You against the elements, one bullet at a time.
Generic music and voice work if truth be told. They certainly do the job, but it's hardly going to blow your mind.
At times the battlefields seem like wondrous open arenas, but things become a little muddier once you get up close and personal.
Viewed from your scope this game is all about timing and skill, but unfortunately you also have to take into account the dubious stealth elements, dire close combat and sometimes unforgiving enemies.
As an experience in sniping this is second to none, but it just fails to tie that one superb element into a cohesive and enjoyable experience.
A solid list that rewards skill, progression and co-op play, but it has to be said that there is not much in the way of innovation. Plus, the collectibles feel oddly out of place considering the pacing of the game for the most part.
Sniper Elite V2 is a solid game and one that should provide plenty of entertainment for those with an interest in brutally doing away with their enemies with a high powered rifle (read: everyone). Sadly there are a few flaws that hold the game back and make it a more frustrating experience than it ought to be. There is still plenty here to enjoy, but only if you're prepared to endure a few rough spots.
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