Sniper Elite V2 developed by Rebellion and published by 505Games, is a complete remake of the 2005 Xbox Original hit ‘Sniper Elite’. Using the same timeframe of events and location during the WWII Battle of Berlin in the Spring of 1945 – in V2 you take on the role of an American Office of Strategic Services officer named, Karl Fairburne who must kill scientists involved in the German V-2 rocket programme, hence the title of Sniper Elite V2. It’s a third person shooter and heavily relies on stealth to complete your main objectives.
The campaign starts with a short tutorial mission were you must assassinate German Major-General Hans von Eisenberg who is attempting to defect to the Soviets; the purpose of this mission is that it sets you up with familiarity for the game’s controls and sniping mechanics. There are varied difficulty levels to suit your desired play through with the easier settings just allowing you to aim your shots and fire without taking into account any wind speed dynamics, and the more difficult settings in which you will die very quickly when you’re fired at, altering ballistic realism and tactical assistance – taking into account gravity, wind, velocity, bullet penetration and aim stability. It may sound all very technical, but adds to the realism even if unfortunately the visual quality doesn’t, but we’ll get round to that in a moment.
From the title alone, you have obviously by now predicted the game uses Sniper Rifles, but they are not the only class of weapon in your loadout collection, so if you think the whole game revolves around them… it doesn’t! A whole host of other WWII-era weapons can be found in-game, including a silenced Welrod pistol, machine guns, hand grenades, dynamite, land mines and trip mines at your disposal. Before starting each mission you get the opportunity to select your loadout where you choose your Sniper Rifle, Machine Gun and Pistol to carry through the missions with you. You also have an unlimited supply of Rocks which when thrown in the direction of an enemy will set them on a task to investigate, freeing you up for some stealth kills or gaining access into a building as they leave their position. With a combination of weapons and grenades you can alter your game tactics by choosing to go prone and sit it out, picking off the enemy one by one with your long range sniper – or alternatively skip the stealth plan and run it out with a machine gun. It’s likely to depend on how much patience you have, but cranked up to the highest difficulty setting and stealthily sneaking through one location to another is the most satisfying game experience with a challenging outlook – its do or die!
The main story involves controlling Fairburne’s actions as he comes up against both Nazi and Soviet opponents in his mission to either kill or capture the key scientists involved in the V-2 rocket program. In WWII the V-2 Rockets were the world’s first long range combat-ballistic missile that caused mass destruction as the German’s dropped them on cities across the globe, developed by German scientists – Fairburne is tasked with finding the mastermind behind the project, Dr. Wolff. Many of the missions will task you with finding other key important people, infiltrating buildings, flanking the enemy, recovering documents and blowing up buildings, tanks, bridges just like any other WWII game. The difference between other WWII games and Sniper Elite V2 is that this game is very lonesome – it’s a complete single soldier experience without any supporting team and sadly neither is it very action packed considering you’re scouting around a war torn environment.
All of the missions start you off in war damaged surroundings that feel very empty; there’s not a lot going on except for the soldiers you see walking around and guarding specific buildings. You follow the directions of your markers to reach the required objective where you must also defend yourself during the intervals that don’t require a lot of investigating. You encounter a constant short-flow of enemies where they must be killed off one by one before a new objective is set to allow you to go deeper into the story. If you prefer your war games to be heavy on war, heavy on action, and a real battle for survival – then Sniper Elite V2 is not “it”! This is more of a game that will suit those gamers who prefer to take their time, and creep around the locations in the anticipation that they may or may not get caught. Although the large open world environments feel very empty and isolated, with very little action – it’s still somewhat satisfactory to play, but a little more oomph feels like it’s needed around the main mission. The story could have been better presented with a lot more cut scenes to depict the facing scenarios rather than just a few seconds at the end of each mission It’s a really great concept of one man facing a huge hunt for scientists single headedly in the events of WWII, but it’s not very gripping – a lot of the later missions feel and look the same as previous missions because the scenery is not very detailed and all looks a bit same-old-same.
Sniper Elite V2 falls into the good-but-not-great category of shooters, it’s not boring in gameplay at all and some parts of the game are a real pleasure to see. One of the highlights for instance is the X-Ray Kill Cam that’s activated upon successfully dealing a heavy damaging blow to your enemy. In slow motion the bullet tears through the air before forcefully impounding itself into the body, and you get to see organs tear and burst, bones shatter and your enemy dies on the ground in pool of his own blood. Another is the ability to pull out your binoculars and tag the enemy as you plan your attack, but it’s just a real shame that the environments don’t feel like they are interacting with your journey. Many of the buildings are completely destroyed, but other than that and the background sounds, they are the only two things that show you are in a war. It’s as if the game is missing the war – you know you’re in a war, but where is it – you may ask?
Visually the game is also as basic as the war it portrays and doesn’t come no way near on par as the game engine that powers most modern mutli-million selling war games. It’s visually on par with Call of Duty 3, a game from around 2006. Whilst graphics doesn’t hinder gameplay, it just doesn’t feel very fresh in-line with the more popular games of today. It’s enjoyable to play and by no means disappointing, but it’s a basic game of run, hide, shoot and wait – then repeat.
With a lack of multiplayer matchmaking modes, the game does make up for it though with some fantastic co-operative options. There are four modes available over Xbox LIVE that include, Co-op Campaign to fight your way through the main story with a friend. Kill Tally which is the games own Survival Mode (think MW3) only with sniper rifles across some of the larger maps from the campaign. Bombing Run, this mode challenges you to retrieve parts from locations on the map to repair an objective. Then finally, Overwatch – where one player will be the Sniper as another player is set various challenges to complete. These four modes add hours of extra replay value and are just fantastic to play online with a friend or even a random over Xbox LIVE as it searches for active lobbies. It may not have a vast offering of team death match or conquest based games for up to 16 players on Xbox LIVE – but what it does have in terms of the co-operative modes it does well.
Sniper Elite V2 is a good game that could have been better, it could have looked better and it could have had more online multiplayer modes to add even more fun instead of just restricting this to co-operative only. Enjoyable, but nothing that will blow you away.