Game Review: Sniper Elite V2

Sniper Elite V2  is a remake of Rebellion Development’s sleeper hit, “Sniper Elite: Berlin 1945”. In both titles you play as an OSS Secret agent inserted into Berlin during the final days of World War II to stop the Soviets from obtaining some deadly new technology. Your targets are German V2 scientists. It’s a change of pace for locale/time frame as most WWII games takes place during or following the D-Day landings on Normandy Beach. If you’ve ever seen the movie, ”Downfall,” you get a pretty good idea how chaotic the final days of the war in Berlin must have been. Although a fascinating backdrop, ultimately playing a shooter game for its backstory is like eating soup because you like the spoon. If I want a cinematic experience, I’ll rent a movie; if I want to shoot Nazis in the face from three football fields away, I play Sniper Elite . . .

Say,”Auf Wiedersehen” Fritz

I fired up Sniper Elite V2 with a little trepidation. I had enjoyed its predecessor, but only after waiting for it to hit the bargain bin. This isn’t to say that the original Sniper Elite wasn’t enjoyable – on the contrary it was excellent and offered unparalleled ballistic realism for its time. But in a 1st or 3rd person shooter video game that isn’t terribly popular, the replayability of the title is limited by the longevity (or lack thereof) of its community. So long as other people play, so too will I.

SEV2 attempts to alleviate this issue with the inclusion of collectables such as Nazi gold bars and bottles of french wine. Then I noticed SEV2’s new, “Challenge Mode” where your character attempts to survive endless waves of belligerent Bolsheviks and vindictive Nazis. And challenge mode definitely lives up to its name. I’d say it’s easily twice as difficult as the campaign. This new feature coupled with the inclusion of two-player cooperative mode, customizable difficulty levels and unlockable weapons will definitely add some serious replayability to the game.

I had the most fun in SEV2 when I was given a little bit of wiggle room to create and execute my own plan. In one mission I had to pick up some high-explosive filled satchels and place them at two choke points. When the armored car in front of my target convoy passed the second charge, I was supposed to shoot the satchel and take it out. The remaining troops behind it would bail from their transport and attempt to locate and eviscerate me with the infamous MP-40 submachine guns.

I failed the mission once before with a poorly-tossed grenade that vaporized my character. Having learned where the troops would run for cover, I caught a clue – or so I thought – and planted some grenade trip-wires in those locations. But I was both delighted and surprised to see that the AI didn’t follow its previous course of actions and most of the troops used a closer piece of rubble for cover. A few gerries failed to wise up though, and sought cover next to my tripwire-activated grenade. Seeing my ambush to fruition was  awesome and very satisfying.

While all of this is well and good, Sniper Elite V2′s claim to fame is its new X-Ray Kill Cam. This feature shows the damage a round from your rifle does to an opponent with gruesome detail. The camera doesn’t activate during every kill, only those that require significant skill to pull off. This is made vastly more difficult by Sniper Elite’s inclusion of bullet-drop and windage.

Much like in real life, bullets don’t travel at the speed of light (yet) and are affected by wind. What this means to the player is that, based on his wind meter and the range to target, you have to utilize the mil dots on his scope to compensate for the ballistic trajectory of the round. That makes you really “earn” each kill unlike more mainstream games like Call of Duty which utilize instant hit-scan projectile tracking.

You may be thinking to yourself,”This is all very fascinating, but what does it have to do with guns?” Simply put, everything. The game is centered on the rifle and its user, the sniper. The game features dozens of real World War II weapons from all sides of the conflict, and the ballistics of which are more accurately modeled in this title than most. The realistic graphics combined with the accurate weapons and physics create a striking verisimilitude of the second world war.

As the campaign progresses, the environments become more and more desolate as the once mighty third reich is ground to a pulp by the vast soviet war machine. You’ll see historically accurate uniforms for both the German and Soviet forces. Unfortunately, some of the weapons are incorrect.

For example, every German infantryman is equipped with either a G43 or an MP40. Towards the end the war the German forces consisted primarily of the young and invalid and were known as the Volkssturm. They were equipped with a myriad of oddities, from captured Carcanos to the Volkssturmgewehr, with the only pieces of equipment common amongst them being hastily manufactured PanzerFausts and Stielhandgranate. While the Soviet forces seemed more accurately equipped with PPSH 41 and 1891 Mosin-Nagants, every one of their officers carried the Parabellum 08, AKA the Luger.

Historical discrepancies aside, the game offers players a fairly realistic WWII sniping experience with the addition the fleshy, flashy X-ray kills. This makes for a very entertaining package and after all, isn’t that what video games are all about?

RATING (out of five stars):

Sound * * * * *
From the distant clatter of smalls arms to incoming artillery rounds, the game sounds will make you feel as if you are in the middle of Berlin during its climactic downfall.

Graphics  * * * *
The graphics are what you’d expect from a Next-Gen title – realistic and the animations are fluid and precise.

Gameplay  * * * ½
Sniper Elite V2 is a lot of fun; if sniping is your thing, look no further. However the other small arms feel worthless even at medium range. I also wish the missions were a little less linear.

Value  * * * *
The single player campaign offers approx 10 hours on the hardest setting with multiplayer and co-op offering endless variety.

Overall  * * * * ½
A solid purchase you won’t likely regret so long as the online community stays intact.