Sniping games seem to form their own sub-genre in the crowded first person market. From the disastrous Sniper:Ghost Warrior to the original Sniper Elite, it is a genre that does not seem to have too many supporters. Nonetheless, Rebellion Software has seen it fit to revive it’s cult classic series and bring it to the next generation. Unfortunately, despite the shiny new coat of paint, the game suffers from a major identity crisis, leading the once promising series deep into the path of mediocrity. Sniper Elite V2 acts as a sort of “revamp” for the original game.
Published by: 505 Games
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Play it if: You absolutely need a sniper game.
Skip it if: You actually enjoy sniping games.
Once again, you take control of American OSS agent Karl Fairburne who has been sent deep into war torn Berlin in 1945 to single-handedly stop the German nuclear secrets from getting into Soviet hands. Predictably, the story has you track down the most evil fictional Nazi’s ever imagined, complete with scars and ugly snarls. There are no notable secondary characters and you are literally alone during every mission. The roughly six hour story does not do enough to satisfy any narrative nerve and only drives this game deeper into the mediocrity hole. The main problem with Sniper Elite V2 is that it completely misses the point of what a sniper game should be. Instead of creating a decent stealth game with some cool sniping opportunities, the game forces you to engage all enemies in the room in order to continue.
The average level will involve some sort of artificial hallway, be it a bombed out street in Berlin or a V2 rocket facility, littered with enemies and a sniper or two perched in a building. You would think that the best approach would be to sneak your way around the patrol, by either not being noticed or quietly picking out enemies. However, the linearity of the game prevents you from taking any other routes other than where the patrol is. You cannot traverse through broken down buildings and flank you enemy, you cannot sneak your way into a sniper’s nest, or even find any alternate routes to your objectives. Sneaking past the patrols is out of the question since the enemy snipers are guaranteed to see you and shooting them will get the attention of every enemy in the area. There are times where background noise can be used to cover the sound of your shot, but it is few and far between. The game is built so you have to become a one man army and dispatch all of the enemies as quickly as possible.
Now, to say that a game fails at one thing does not mean that it does not succeed at another. You would think that when taking away the useless stealth, Sniper Elive V2 would be a half decent action game, but it even fails at that. Bullets are realistically impacted by gravity and wind meaning lining up a shot can be more difficult than anticipated. There is a focus system that is activated by how calm the sniper’s heartbeat is, meaning that is you were sprinting to knee high wall you are using as cover you will have to wait a minute to have a super slowdown effect. One of the few redeeming features of Sniper Elite V2 are the gruesome killcams that follow the trajectory of your bullet and show an x-ray effect as it breaks bone and pierces internal organs. It rarely gets old and can bring about a few macabre chuckles.
Not everything in Sniper Elite V2 is horrible. There are a few cool features in place that make setting up a good shot enjoyable. If you wound an enemy they will lay on the ground screaming for help until another enemy comes by and helps them up, in which case you can finish him as well. The game encourages you to lay traps, such as using a trip mine on a door or setting a landmine on a dead body, in order to make your escape easier. However, the game will often make you escape through a different path than the one you came from, making any premeditation useless.
The amount of complaints toward this game keep stacking up. There is no Nazi swastika in the game for whatever reason, making the red and black flags in its place stand out like a sore thumb. The graphics do not fare well, with character models in the Xbox 360 version looking like Ken dolls and a horrible draw distance that makes one wonder why Rebllion used such a limited engine for a game that requires a good draw distance. To add insult to injury, the enemy AI did not graduate from kindergarten, leading them to get stuck behind walls and unable to notice you when you are right next to them. Even more annoying is the fact that they seem to have ridiculously good aim while blindly shooting a fully automatic machine gun from behind cover, hitting you in the face when you are 500 meters away in a watchtower.
To put it simply, Sniper Elite V2 is a broken game. There are cool ideas in place but the game containing them is a waste of time. The poor game design completely misses the point of a sniper game and manages to make this a painful exercise in patience.