‘Sniper Elite V2′ Game Review
With a title like that you’d expect nothing but the very best in long-distance warfare, and thankfully Sniper Elite V2 delivers, like a bullet at 200 meters.
Rebellion Developments’ remake of its own 2005 shooter does violence better than most. If you’ve played the last Mortal Kombat installment you know how much fun it is to watch an x-ray view of your opponent’s bones being smashed to pieces and insides being rearranged. Catharsis in the sense of violence, ripped straight from ‘Street Fighter’ (the Sonny Chiba movie, not the game) has seldom been done better. Sniper Elite V2 takes this concept and puts it in a shooter, making for a far more grisly and brutal experience.
Shooting an enemy from a distance will trigger a slow-motion scene that lets you follow the bullet’s trajectory, all the way into (and possibly through) the target. This wouldn’t be so bad, but you’ll see everything that happens inside the body- eyes being shot out, bones splintered, organs ruptured. The bullet will even deform after hitting bones and ricochet out semi-flattened, possibly hitting another unlucky soul. Let’s not even talk about what happens if you aim below the belt…
It’s horrific and honestly one of the most violent things you’ve ever seen in a game, but the developers get away with it because it’s set in World War 2, and you’re an American OSS Officer killing Nazis. A greater man than me once remarked that the only two things you can kill with impunity or guilt in video games is zombies or Nazis and it’s true- it’s hard to feel remorse for the most reviled group of individuals in recent history… even when you’re watching their jaw shatter into pieces and the back of their neck explode thanks to a well-placed bullet. (Never mind that the occasional Russian steps into the picture too, of course.)
The realism extends to other aspects of the game as well. Depending on the difficulty you select you’ll have to take things into account like bullet drop and wind resistance, and if you aren’t winded from running around you can hold your breath to steady your aim. Enemies follow paths but do so at random, giving a nice bit of variety to replaying a mission, although enemy snipers can seem to spot you the instant you step out of cover. Frustrating.
The game does let you play with a few other guns and weapons of the time, like Thompsons and MP 40s, but it’s really all about the rifles. There are some defense weapons that you can use to support yourself while sniping like landmines, trip-wires and dynamite, and you’ll need those because you’re all by yourself against an army- sometimes even taking out tanks by shooting at the caps of their gas tanks.
Stealth really is key here, and there are some great levels set in noisy environments that let you kill silently if you wait. One level is set during a storm, and you can get off a shot whenever the thunder cracks, adding a helluva lot of tension as you hope that the guy doesn’t turn around or move before the next noise hits.
Lots of repetition and some annoyances with the cover system aside, the game manages to constantly entertain. Finish the campaign and you can go online to play four online modes, the best of which is called Overwatch. That one sees one person working as a spotter with a rifle and the other on the ground with a machine gun. You’ll really rely on the other guy. Other modes let you survive waves with a friend or even try to tackle the single-player campaign missions together.
All in all, a game I can see myself going back to in order to try the hardest difficulty, or even just let off some steam by shooting Nazis through both lungs. But the biggest letdown? There’s a bonus mission called “Assassinate The Führer” that lets you live out all your ‘Inglourious Basterds’ fantasies- but is only available as a pre-order bonus. Let us shoot off Hitler’s balls, Rebellion!
Sniper Elite: V2 is available now on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC and was developed by Rebellion Developments and published by 505 Games, which provided a review copy. We played the game for 11 hours on the Xbox 360.