Also On: Xbox 360
Publisher: 505 Games
Medium: Blu-ray Disc
Players: 1 – 2
Sniper Elite V2 is kind of like Gran Turismo, except instead of cars, you "drive" rifles with high powered scopes. In that respect, if you don"t like games that are less forgiving with their simulation, you"re only going to get frustrated with Sniper Elite. This is especially true of its hardest difficulty setting that uses more realistic bullet ballistics — it"s like being force fed a large slice of humble pie. The silver-lining is it unabashedly lets you know what you"re getting away with in games like CoD or Battlefield; not that it"s ridiculously hard taking into account wind and gravity (with the assists), just that you"ll need to readjust from what you"re used to… And snap sniping is far less likely.
Prior to play, I assumed the V2 meant version two, as it"s a sequel, but it"s actually a tie-in with the game"s storyline. Bit of a history lesson here (but it"s an interesting one): Towards the end of WW2, the allied nations were racing against Russia to get as many Nazi scientists and engineers to defect to their respective countries. Of particularly high interest were German rocket scientists because they were they were head and shoulders above the rest of the world in the development of jet propulsion for aircraft and missiles. The biggest "success" in the world of rocket science at the end of the war was the German V-2 rocket… Yes, "V2", like the game"s name!
In Sniper Elite V2, you"re tasked with sniping German and/or Russian officials to prevent V2 rocket scientists from defecting to Russia instead of the US. Things go to hell, so you end up having to do more than just assassination runs, but the set up is pretty rad. Even though liberties have been taken with historical accuracy for SEV2, this kind of thing did happen in less specular degrees (to be fair, the only rocket scientist I know of is Wernher von Braun.) How much the game deviates from the actual history is beside the point as it"s still a neat perspective on the WW2 genre, particularly when compared to what we"re used to.
I guess SEV2"s biggest claim to fame is the "x-ray bullet cam", aka "ultra violent torn guts and bone shattering death" cam. When you successfully fire a fatal shot at a target, the camera follows your bullet"s flight path until it penetrates the victim, then it goes "x-ray" so you can see the bodily carnage. Of course the entire display is in slow motion to emphasize the splattery mess your bullet is creating. It"s kind of gimmicky; just following the bullet as it enters someone"s head does a good job of emphasizing your death dealing, but I"m not convinced that showing their brains getting blown out of their ass actually adds to the game in any tangible way.
Conversely, unlike the gratuitous x-ray cam, the various ways of performing stealth kills add to the game and gameplay. Not just sneaking up and melee killing an enemy or using a silenced weapon while you"re crouched unseen behind a stove, but cracking off shots timed with lightning or bell chimes so they go unnoticed is where the money is at. In my opinion, Rebellion should have focused even more on those mechanics rather than worry about making someone"s face being blown in half look even more gruesome. Hell, they should have spent that time refining the game"s close-quarters controls just to round out the game a little better.
Because of the game"s somewhat restrictive set up, levels don"t vary too greatly. Missions, regardless of their objective, typically play out in the same fashion: sneak into position, snipe/detonate your target(s), sneak (or run) your casino internet way out of the hot spot. I can understand why someone would tire of this formula, but on the harder difficulties the repetition serves as a good way to get a solid grasp on the mechanics and, at times, awkward, controls… Kind of like Assassin"s Creed, but less fluid and not close-quarters centric. It"s definitely not a game for the impatient; you crouch/crawl a lot in order to avoid detection and it"s slow going sneaking around.
Actually, with all the third-person sneaking involved, the game reminded me of both Assassin"s Creed and Metal Gear Solid quite a bit, which I wasn"t expecting. The sneaking is complete with wall-hugging and a meter indicating when/if enemies see you. Plus there"s a silenced single-action pistol that you invariably rely on to prevent the entire third reich from potato mashing your ass before or after an assassination/detonation. The tension and suspense of trying to remain hidden or prevent alarm is the kind of stuff that never gets old though (although it does cause your blood pressure to rise considerably), so it offers a certain unique satisfaction.
I"m a fan of co-op and Sniper Elite V2 doesn"t disappoint; you can play through the campaign, fight off increasing waves of Nazis (ala horde), or snipe while your partner works his way up a battlefield"s checkpoints. All of them are decent, but none of them are so good as to replace to replace heavy hitters like CoD or BF. In fact, the only modes the game lacks are more traditional multiplayer, opting instead to focus on doing things as a team in co-op. Realistically the multiplayer of SEV2 is supplemental to the one-man experience, but they do increase replayability.
Being that visibility and distance play an integral part of the experience, a higher resolution and more vivid display could only make the visuals and gameplay better. I have to assume then, that you"ll have an easier time playing on PC; not only would the increased resolution help, but the more precise controls of the mouse would probably pay off when you got used to it. The game has all the mechanics of a "PC game", but all the superficial polish of a "Console game" and it tries to balance the two to make it appealing for both. It"s not that it does a bad job, but it does make me wonder how far 505/Rebellion could"ve/would"ve taken the game had they gone one way or the other (PC or console.)
It"s hard to be definitive with SEV2 because it does fall victim to its own unique premise and gameplay speciality. It"s somewhat limited, but adding more whiz-bang and flashiness would only dilute its core sniping gameplay, which is exactly what makes it stand out from the crowd. This catch 22 makes criticizing the game somewhat delicate; what is too much and what is too little? I guess if I were forced to say anything it"d be to make it even more like a WW2/Sniper-based Assassin"s Creed or Metal Gear Solid, but that"s a vague blanket judgement and probably what Rebellion was trying to do anyway. The other, equally broad criticism I can make is to offer it at a lower starting price; being that it"s such a specialized game, the only people that will consider it at $50 is the very limited group of gamers that love sniping. At $45, WW2 gamers will get onboard… At $30, anyone who likes guns will probably try it out.
The sequel to Rebellion's highly-acclaimed 2005 game Sniper Elite, Sniper Elite V2 continues to offer gamers the most authentic World War II sniping experience by putting them in the middle of war-torn Berlin amidst the frenzied final battle between German and Russian forces. With an emphasis on learning to handle the anticipation and pressure of the hunt, players are forced to use skill, patience and cunning to achieve their missions as they find themselves facing life-altering choices. The celebrated "bullet cam" from Sniper Elite makes its return and will be more gratifying than ever. Skillful shots are rewarded with a slow-motion sequence of the bullet running its full trajectory from barrel to target as well as featuring graphic detail of the effects of the bullet entering and destroying a target.