Review: Sniper Elite V2 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Single handedly decide the fate of the Western Front during the second world war!
We all like headshots. Your girlfriend likes headshots, your grandma likes headshots, your neighbors like headshots. The headshot is quite possibly the most satisfying thing in modern gaming. The only people that don't like headshots are Nazis. Nazis hate headshots. That's where you come in. As OSS Officer Karl Fairburne, you're inserted deep into enemy lines to prevent the capture of defecting Nazi scientists.
This isn't your normal WWII shooter, you won't find yourself mowing down the masses as a lone super soldier. Each level of Sniper Elite V2 tasks you to sneak through battle torn Germany, picking enemies off one by one and eventually reaching a vantage point where you can take out your primary target. Don't think officer Fairburne is here to take his targets out for some weinershnitzel either. He's here to deal them a swift death from a quarter mile away.
While the sneaking in Sniper Elite isn't the best in gaming, it is competent enough to allow you to scout targets with your binoculars and take them out in several ways. You can sneak from cover to cover and stealthily eliminate enemies, set trip wires or landmines, or whip out a submachine gun for some righteous close quarters fury. However, don't be mistaken; running and gunning will surely get you killed. This game does not reward goose stepping out in the open. This isn't without its faults, as you can't conveniently take out targets from cover without exposing yourself to the enemy line of sight. Also, the layout of each level seems a little too contrived. I honestly wished there was a little more variety to the structure of each stage.
Of course, Sniper Elite wouldn't have much sniping without sniper rifles, which are the main form of combat in the game. The sniping in this game absolutely delivers with a visceral feel and, often times, a sense of urgency and precision no other shooter will really put forth. When you aim down the scope of your rifle you have to keep in mind things such as your heart rate and breathing which affect the stability of your aim. You also have to account for gravity and wind and at other times environmental noise which will help you stay hidden. This is coupled with directional threat indicators and outlines of where you were last sighted and the ability to slow down time to give you an edge when sniping. For the hardcore sharpshooters, these crutches are stripped away from you as you increase the difficulty to the game, leaving you with your instincts and your scope at the highest of difficulties.
Sniper Elite makes great use of the slo-mo kill cam when you hit a mark right on target. You'll get a gruesome slow motion bullet entry into an enemies head, neck or other vital area. If you're lucky, the game will give you an X-Ray look into the collateral damage from your shot. There really is no purpose for this game wise, but you will never tire seeing the internal carnage your bullet causes. A game like this won't be making the likes of Jack Thompson any more comfortable at night. Other than the wonderful splatter effects from your spray of bullets, Sniper Elite is no slouch graphically.
War torn Germany doesn't often looks this good, and since you're not running around like a maniac, you can take in the haunting images of ruined buildings and smoke plumes in the back drop. However, this isn't the prettiest game as some textures up close can appear muddy, even on the PC. The plot of Sniper Elite isn't the type to leave an impression on you, but it is competent enough to not make you scratch your head in bewilderment. You will also have a few collectibles to pick up if you so choose.
All-in-all the single player of Sniper Elite is fun, though can be frustrating when you get caught by enemies; it also doesn't help that the enemy AI is spotty at time acting unrealistically, a common trait in the stealth genre. The main driving force of the single player is the nonstop opportunities you get to pick people off with headshots. If you tire of the single player campaign you can play the challenge mode called Tally, which essentially is a horde mode. Not the best horde action you can find out there, but if you're looking to just shoot a ton of people in the head, it doesn't get better than this. Sniper Elite also boasts multiplayer and cooperative modes, but unfortunately they were not available in the review build of the game. While it may not be the total package Sniper Elite V2 offers up a lot of tactile shooting action, and is able to pull it off more believably than similar games you'll play in arcade machines.