Review: Sniper Elite V2
COD snipers rejoice, there is finally a game where you can take to your favourite weapon and sit and snipe to your heart’s content but don’t go thinking about trying to quick scope or run through the game like a one-man army, Sniper Elite V2 isn’t quite as thoughtless as your online sniping ability.
Set deep behind enemy lines, you play as a lone sniper on a mission to prevent German V2 rocket scientists from being captured or defecting to the side of the Russians. The game can be played on three difficulties with the lowest difficulty giving you nothing more than a shallow FPS gun game with no bullet ballistics (COD snipers apply here ) crank up the difficulty and realistic bullet ballistics are introduced and enemies become deadlier, Sniper Elite difficulty also throws wind in for extra measure! You may also opt to customise your difficulty and tweak the enemy skill, bullet ballistics and the tactical assistance. For my run-through I took on the medium difficulty, Marksman which offers a ‘fair challenge’.
Snipe Elite V2 looks great: smoke, light and explosions look brilliant and the bombed out environments look brilliant. OK so each level does use that classic bland colour palette that is oh so familiar to any shooter set in this period, but this is WWII people, what do you expect, bright neon lighting? It is a shame though that I couldn’t help but think my character looks like he has a plastic action man head! It kind of detracts slightly from the rest of the game as do the cut scenes which are a little flat in their quality when compared to the in-game engine.
The first level breaks you in gently, teaching you to survey the route ahead and mark enemies battlefield style with a pair of binoculars. You learn to cover entry points with booby traps and you’re introduced to the games “stealth” mechanic. This is by no means a game to rival the stealth mechanics of any good stealth ‘em up and while the ideas are perfectly acceptable, the game is rather unforgiving in how and when you are spotted. Crouching places you in “stealth” and you also have a threat indicator which works really well if you are quick enough to respond to its warning. You also have a good supply of rocks which work to distract the enemy while you sneak in behind them to either get to the next section or snap their necks. Finally you get a taste of the game’s cover mechanic and how to shoot from cover, after which you then booby trap a body with a mine – at this point I was feeling quite excited about being let off the tutorial leash, for me the demo didn’t really do it for me.
The sniper tutorial is excellently executed. Staged as a hit on a general, your inner monologue describes what’s going on down to how many notches above the target you must aim, how you steady your aim and what wind resistance there might be. Get the sweet spot and you are treated to the games best accolade, an in-game cut scene of the bullet spinning in the air on its deadly trajectory towards the target before crashing into the victims skull in a deadly X-ray scene: bone, brain and blood squelches as the bullet comes out the other side – its pretty vulgar but it’s brilliant and so satisfying!
You will spend most of the game creeping around and while there are options to sneak past the enemy you will quickly find the best way to tackle the levels is to sit back and snipe. You get spotted so easily that it can become frustrating and rather disheartening that after all your efforts to be a sneak in the shadows you get spotted so easily. Like a certain other sniper game it seems Sniper Elite V2 also suffers from the same eagle-eyed enemy problems. It seems your Nazi foes not only have perfect vision but are also crack shots making the idea of stalking your enemies with a sniper fun until the enemy are alerted to your position. Whole areas will come flocking to you like a telepathic signal has been given out making creating isolated incidents near impossible. Being a covert sniper deep behind enemy lines I would have expected a bit more Sam Fisher in the stealth department rather than the almost clumsy Johnny English.
While engaged in these combat sequences music floods your ears and once the area is cleared the ambient noises of the environment return. It’s wonderfully used, the tone excellently pitched and gives you a real vibe of a World War II setting. It’s almost amusing that you, a covert soldier, is so dam loud! Footsteps sound clumsy and reloading seems far too noisy, it lacks the finesse that the other ambient noise exhibit.
Other than the odd level that places you in close quarter combat, levels are very similar and while sniping is extremely satisfying there is little difference in the layout of the streets and environments, each feeling very linear as they herd you forward to your ultimate goal. Levels also suffer from a rather annoying spawn system with enemies only spawning when you get to certain points.
Unlike its PC counterpart there is no competitive multiplayer in the Xbox 360 version, there is however a superb set of co-op modes to get stuck into. Should you look to buy Sniper Elite V2 I would certainly recommend you do so if you plan to play these modes, in fact I would almost recommend missing the single player entirely and head straight for the co-op campaign. I found the game to be far more enjoyable coordinating attacks with a buddy rather than fumbling about as a lone player.
There are also three bespoke co-op modes which define the word teamwork. If you play with someone who hasn’t got a mic or won’t talk then each mode will feel dull and flat, talk and work together and you will have a blast. Kill Tally is the weakest mode on offer and is your standard dig in and repel wave after wave of enemy. Bombing Run needs you to work together with your co-op buddy to retrieve engine parts scattered throughout the level which you use to repair a vehicle and make your getaway before the area is bombed into oblivion. My favourite mode though was Overwatch. One of you takes the role of sniper and the other, the role of spotter and ground solider. While the sniper has all the fun of popping heads, the ground soldier not only spots enemies but also roams about the level to complete ground objectives. Unfortunately though it was during this mode that I encountered some game breaking bugs, objectives disappeared or refuse to spawn making any further progression in the level impossible even with a checkpoint restart. While there may not be many maps in the co-op modes, gamers that take to the online modes will find far more enjoyment and variety than playing the game in single player.
Sniper Elite V2 is certainly a slow-paced game but if you like planning attacks and sniping then this will certainly make a good weekends gaming for you. There are some wonderful set pieces to activate but you must think about and study your environments to be able to use/find them. Although the levels are rather linear I did quite enjoy the storyline and throughly enjoyed the sniping which just felt so dam good every time I nailed the perfect shot. I must admit I didn’t have high hopes for Sniper Elite V2 mainly because it is from the same studio that brought us the terrible Aliens vs Predator game but I’m pleasantly surprised at how much fun I had with it. Gamers who invest in co-op will find a far more enjoyable experience with the co-op modes adding greatly to the longevity of the game. As a lone player all you may find is that you will want to play the levels again and again trying to achieve that perfect sniper playthrough or to beat your friends on the level score leaderboards.
Review: Sniper Elite V2 Results
What we liked:
Forget the Single player, head for co-op
X-Ray Sniper shots
The sniping feels brilliantly executed
What we disliked:
Levels are linear and samey
Eagle eye enemies
Stealth mechanics are frustrating