Friday, 1 June 2012

Sniper Elite V2

The idea of sniping has always been wholly satisfying throughout gaming history. There really is nothing like biding your time, aiming down a sight, breathing in and taking down a mark. Sniper Elite v2 certainly has you covered in this department as this sequel to 2005’s Sniper Elite arrives in quite stylish fashion as Rebellion Development (the guys behind the recent NeverDead) have ensured fans of strategic and distance warfare will certainly get some kicks out of this WW2 sniper simulator. While it may not be perfect and occasional hitches hold up this third person shooter, it nonetheless caters to many of our gory needs.

Sniper Elite v2 takes you back once again to last remnants of WW2. Lead protagonist Karl Fairburne is sent to Germany to take down leading Nazi scientists involved with the German V-2 ballistic missile project before the Russians can recruit them and gather valuable and potentially deadly information. So most of your time with Sniper Elite v2 will be spent rummaging across a ruined Berlin, which isn’t a bad thing as generally level design is good and with different ways to traverse maps and lots of different sniper spots, it makes for quite an engaging experience.

Obviously the aim of the game is to be use stealth to your advantage. Avoiding guards, timing your kills with background noise and scurrying through destroyed buildings are all options to keep you from being discovered. If things don’t go as smoothly however, Karl has the option to pull out his side-arm weapons and tackle enemies face to face, but his fragile nature almost ensures you won’t be employing this tactic more than once. What is interesting is Karl’s ability to use explosives as traps to lure enemies and avoid direct confrontation. You have land mines, grenades and a bunch of other cool old-school gadgets to try out and they provide a huge help in keeping enemies at bay while you pick them off with your rifle.

The core of Sniper Elite v2’s gameplay comes from of course, the sniper rifle. There’s no greater satisfaction than finding a perfect hiding spot and placing a bullet between the eyes of your target. What makes this even more awesome and totally not gruesome at all, is the X-ray kill cam reminiscent of Mortal Kombat 9’s system. When you successfully take down an enemy, you are rewarded with a slow motion camera pan that follows your bullet as it goes in and out of your enemy. During this time you get to see all the vital organs and bones break into pieces as your bullet does its job, cool right? This addition to the gameplay makes every kill so satisfying and no matter how many times the x-ray kill occurs, you never get bored of it.

Sniper Elite v2’s gameplay is ruined somewhat by the stupid AI. When you are spotted your position is rushed upon instantly and the game gets pretty difficult, but sometimes the computer won’t know where you are or they might run out in an orderly line just waiting for you to put a bullet into row of soldiers. One by one soldiers might line up to try and get on a machine gun turret as you laugh and pick them off, stuff like this ruins the experience considerably and really takes you out of the immersion Sniper Elite v2 tries so hard to set you up for. Thankfully it doesn’t happen all the time and on the game’s harder difficulties things get a whole load tougher and more realistic, especially enemy snipers who can take you down quickly if you’re not careful.

It’s nice to see that the campaign has considerable length, clocking in at around 10 – 12 hours. It can also be played cooperatively online, which is a cool bonus. Sniper Elite v2 offers other multiplayer ventures too like Kill Tally, which is a horde mode and Bombing Run where the goal is to salvage mission airplane parts on a map. The most interesting game mode is Overwatch that puts one player up in a sniping position while the other is a grunt carrying out and completing objectives while the sniper protects. This provides an interesting sense of teamwork but undoubtedly being the sniper is a lot more fun than the grunt.

From a technical perspective Sniper Elite v2 is hit and miss. The graphics, audio and narration are generally good but inconsistent gaming elements hinder the experience. The controls hold out well, which is important for such a precise shooter but on harder difficulties you will have to be lightning fast to get those shots out before another sniper takes your head off.

Ultimately Sniper Elite v2 impresses more than it frustrates and the highlights of this game are certainly highly enjoyable. Pacing can be a huge problem here and the difference in difficulty levels makes it very difficult to recommend where to start. If you’re a fan of the sniping experience and don’t mind a bit of buggy AI, then you can’t go wrong with Sniper Elite v2.

8.0 | Gameplay |
The sniping gameplay is very impressive and clever use of traps and explosives keeps the game exciting and fresh. It’s obvious you’re not supposed to engage enemies face to face so trying to keep yourself concealed and in the best hiding spots provides excellent tension and a new level of gameplay. Moving up to higher difficulties provides serious challenge and can sometimes be overwhelming, so it’s recommending for the more resilient gamer.

7.0 | Presentation |
Sniper Elite v2 depicts a ravaged Berlin during the closing days of WW2 and this vibe can certainly be felt. The level design makes for some very interesting ways to traverse the battlefield and take down enemies. The story as well, while not incredibly deep, keeps the game moving forward as you continue taking down scientists and keeping them away from the Russians. The x-ray kill cam in particular is so amazing and just never gets old as you watch bones and organs explode on screen.

6.0 | Replay Value |
Sniper Elite v2 provides a decent multiplayer experience, but nothing particular overwhelming that will keep you coming back for more. The cooperative online campaign is a lot of fun and playing the game again on a higher difficulty level is certainly a challenge, but I just can’t see the need to play the game over and over again.

7.0 | Final Thoughts |

To be honest, I can’t say anything really bad about Sniper Elite v2 other than the slightly inconsistent AI but there’s nothing really here other than the x-ray kill cam that really stands out and makes you go “wow.” Sniper Elite v2 depicts war time Germany well and is technically and impressive game, but there’s something about the slow pace of the game that while is satisfying when played, can sometimes still feel a little boring in places. So if you fancy wielding a long-barreled sniper and enjoy the idea of stalking your prey before you take them down, then I’m sure there is something here for you. While gamers looking for a more fast-paced run and gun experience are probably better off looking elsewhere.

Igor Kharin.

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