At one point World War II shooter games were so common that you might have thought that the war lasted centuries. These days modern and near future warfare populate all the military shooters. Sniper Elite V2 is almost a refreshing flashback to WWII era, but is it worth the trip? Adjust for windage; we want to nail this in one shot.
Sniper Elite V2 is set near the end of WWII when the Allies are squeezing Nazi Germany back inside her borders. In a last ditch effort to swing the war back in their favor the Nazi's fast track their V2 rocket program. America and Russia are both attempting to capture the scientists that are working on the V2 rocket program. In Sniper Elite V2 you play as Karl Fairburne, an American OSS sniper dropped deep behind enemy lines. Your mission is to kill or capture the German scientists to keep them from escaping with the Russians.
Controls and Gameplay
Sniper Elite V2 is a combo of first and third person action shooter game. Movement and non-sniping combat is handled in third person, while all sniping and spotting is done in first person. Sniper Elite V2 is geared toward stealth and sniping. Trying to play the "run and gun" style will get Karl killed, quickly. Quietly moving into a vantage point to get the best shot gives the better advantage.
The sniping part of Sniper Elite V2 has been done well. Zooming in on a target through the scope, adjusting for wind, target movement, and gravity, then holding your breath to steady your aim as you squeeze off your shot is tight. Do all this well and you will be rewarded with the camera tracking the bullet from your gun to the target, ending with a slow motion shot of it going through the target. Do this perfectly and you are further rewarded with a "x-ray" of the bullet shattering bones and bursting vital organs.
The stealth and normal combat on the other hand is a mixed bag. I can understand the emphasis on the sniper portion, but certain sections you rely more on the normal combat. The third person aiming isn't very precise. It brings up a reticule to help with aiming, but you still feel like it's a "spray and pray" situation. Karl is also a fragile person; it doesn't take many shots for the enemy to kill him. On the plus side if you can get to cover your health will regenerate.
The enemy AI is also a mixed bag. At times they seem very smart; taking cover, flanking your position, and using grenades to flush you out. Other times though they are quite dim. There were a few moments where I killed one soldier while his partner stood a few feet away and did nothing.
Sniper Elite V2 does have online co-op play, but at the time of this writing I have not had the chance to try it.
Graphics and Sound
Sniper Elite V2's graphics go for the realistic look with a lot of detail. Even with the detailing, on the Xbox 360 the graphics look muddy in comparison to other games in the same genre.
The voice acting is good. I would advise you to turn on sub-titles so you can find out what the German and Russian soldier are saying since they are speaking their native languages. Sometimes they mention important information. The soundtrack acts as a warning system with it rising and falling in volume as the threat ramps up or eases off.
Sniper Elite V2 is a game that floated under my radar; though I am glad I discovered it. It plays a lot like I thought it would, favoring one style of combat. In this game that's not a bad thing, it's right there in the title, "Sniper." I do wish it was more balanced between the combat modes. I realize that Karl is sniper specialist, but as someone who's been in the military I know you get training to handle other weapons.
The satisfaction of pulling off a perfect sniper shot in Sniper Elite V2 is exciting. The reward of watching the bullet as it is tracked on its way was always a cool moment for me. The "x-ray" as the bullet passed through a soldier is an interesting reward. It may have been a bit gratuitous, but did give an extra "Oh Yeah!" level of satisfaction. Depending on your own personal level of queasiness to gore though, it might be a bit much.
In addition to the previously mentioned AI troubles I did find other problems. Collision detection isn't the greatest. At times I would see my feet go through the ground and my rifle poke through the cover I was hiding behind as I fired. One humorous moment happened when I had run up to a tank. As I tried to move between it and the wall it had crashed through I sort of stood there, legs moving in a pinwheel fashion, going nowhere. I think a very flexible person with double-jointed hips can't even move their legs in that fashion.
Despite its faults Sniper Elite V2 is an entertaining game. I give it a 4 out of 5.
Sniper Elite V2 is rated M for Mature for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, and Language by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB).
Sniper Elite V2 is available now for the Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3 and Windows PC. For more information see the Sniper Elite V2 web site.