"Ever Wondered What Being a Sniper is Like?"
Sniper Elite V2 is a World War II shooter. Now, before you all throw your arms up in disgust and walk away–after all, World War II is to the first-person shooter genre as Lux Aeterna is to movie trailers–believe it or not, it's actually a halfway decent game. See, Sniper Elite, much like its predecessor, is a stealth game. That is to say, it punishes the guys who run in with guns blazing like they're Rambo on a power trip; but more on that in a moment.
The plot is fairly forgettable. You're put into the shoes of Karl Fairburne, an OSS officer who's running solo in Berlin in 1945. The Second World War is nearly at an end, and Fairburne has been tasked with taking down several Nazi scientists and officials before they can defect over to the Russians, all of whom have been involved with the development of the V2 ballistic missile. Without spoiling too much, the game features a mad scientist, chemical warfare, communists, and Nazis. Pretty standard stuff.
The gameplay is where Sniper Elite V2 distinguishes itself; although, it's not without a few glaring issues. At its core, it's a stealth game. You can take just about as much damage as your enemies can (though your health regenerates, unlike theirs), so forging blindly ahead into a hail of bullets is an unquestionably bad idea. Instead, you'll find yourself carefully plotting out escape routes, making note of exits and entrances, laying down traps, and keeping careful tabs on the location of your opponents, particularly snipers.
The game's given an added layer of realism with the "Sniper Elite" difficulty, as wind conditions, angle, and position of the target all affect the trajectory of your bullets. If you don't keep track of where the wind's blowing and adjust your sights accordingly, you will miss and probably alert a whole squadron to your presence in the process. At that point, all it will take is a few of them landing a lucky shot or two, and you're down for the count.
Your performance is kept track of by an in-game scoring system, which gives you points for things like distance, vital shots, head shots, whether or not your target was moving, what weapon you were using, what killed them, and how many enemies you've killed consecutively. Sniper kills feature a slow-motion bullet cam which tracks the trajectory of your shot through the body of its target (and usually features X-ray imagery of the bullet puncturing their lung, or shattering bone, or what have you).
It's a bit gruesome to watch, but–and I feel a touch guilty saying this–it's immensely satisfying, as well. At least… it is at first. The game doesn't really do a great deal to mix things up. Occasionally you'll be fighting waves of enemies, or avoiding and attacking tanks, or finding creative methods for sneaking past your opponents. But as a whole, once you've shot one nazi, you might as well have shot them all.
The single-player game's got plenty of shortcomings, however. I personally found the controls to be a bit clunkier than they should, and the AI is… well, for lack of better terms, it leaves a lot to be desired. There were many occasions when I witnessed an enemy walking repeatedly into a wall, or kicked back as nazi after nazi charged into a room (which was already peppered with bodies) single file in an effort to take me out. Couple that with the oft-predictable patterns of your AI opponents, and the fact that you might find Nazis spawning behind you in an area you just cleared out, and, well….
It feels like outmaneuvering an army of bionic toddlers to steal the last happy meal at McDonald's. Sure, they might occasionally prove challenging out of sheer numbers, but at the end of the day, you're going to be victorious, since they're mind-numbingly easy to outwit.
Multiplayer for the game features either twelve-person team deathmatch or two-person cooperative gameplay. The former tends to be a slow, careful game of cat-and-mouse, trying to weed out the enemy team of snipers and take them out before they can get rid of you (something which is helped along by the fact that, whenever one of your opponents pulls out their rifle, you can usually see a lens flare on the scope). This is where the game really shines; you're not facing run-of-the-mill, typically stupid AI, but other players who can think and react in a tactical manner... and they're all snipers.
I was pretty terrible at deathmatch, so I can't really speak to how balanced the collection of labyrinthine maps are, but they seem to be alright.
As for the latter, it's a mixed bag. Overwatch actually tends to be pretty bloody boring for the guy who doesn't have the rifle. Kill Tally feels a little bit too much like "Horde Mode" and other gametypes of its ilk to really stand out. Bombing run is a fun diversion, however, and probably the best of the three cooperative gametypes. Oh, you can also play a cooperative, two-person campaign, as well.
The game's presentation is alright. There's nothing particularly stunning about the soundtrack, and while the graphics don't look horrible, they're nothing to be in awe of. There's a lot of brown, and gray, and bloom.
While it certainly has its shortcomings, Sniper Elite V2 definitely isn't a run-of-the-mill World War II title. It's not the best game I've ever played, but it's far from the worst, and I can see myself playing it for quite some time. At least, until I get tired of stealth games.
GameDynamo's Score for Sniper Elite V2 (PS3)
A gamer at heart, Nick started writing when he was a child. He holds a BA in English, works as a freelancer, and loves every minute of it. One day, he hopes to net himself a career in game design - but that's something for the future.
[View Sniper Elite V2 images / screenshots +]
[Watch Sniper Elite V2 videos / trailers +]
[View more Sniper Elite V2 articles (news, previews, reviews) +]
[View Sniper Elite V2 cheats / guides +]
More from GameDynamo