Glory to the gory!
We can’t believe we’re actually typing this, but it’s been a while since we’ve shot some Nazis. Developers used to be obsessed with utilising history’s most notorious bad guys as a way to demonise repetitive prey, and in Sniper Elite it’s actually quite satisfying to take down the Third Reich, one bigot at a time, all over again. You’re cast as an American sniper sent into Berlin during the final days of the WWII to track down some rocket scientists before the Russians can get their hands on them.
Sniper Elite has all the jingoistic tones of classic war cinema, without the need of a hammy plot. Instead throughout the game’s dozen or so missions you’re simply tasked with the sort of objectives you’d expect; kill this target, plant explosives to take down this bridge, gather that intel etc. Really the plot is just there to ensure your glorified slaughter of soldiers is framed by visually varied settings, if nothing else. Yet despite this repetition and distinct lack of character development, this sequel has a great deal going for it; mainly due to its sandbox setting and the sublimely ridiculous killcam.
Like the first game in this series, gameplay is one part stealth, two part action with players usually dropped unceremoniously in levels and required to achieve objectives any way they wish utilising mines, dynamite and an array of different rifles, machine guns and pistols. In these current times dominated by linear shooters, the freedom to engage enemies on your terms by sneaking around, performing stealth takedowns and setting up traps via tripmines feels genuinely refreshing.
The rest of the game is about the joys of killing enemies from a distance and boy is it ever fun. Simply put the shooting feels impactful and sufficiently rewarding thanks to the cinematic killcam, which kicks in whenever you’ve perform a worthy enough feat, be it slowing down time by emptying your lungs to achieve a great shot or hitting an particularly enthusiastic Nazi from hundreds of metres away. The gratitious camera angle slows down time even further and follows your bullet’s journey from the muzzle to the intended target and through their fleshy innards, with a nifty cutaway effect to show exactly what damage is being done. The killcam is beautifully grotesque and thanks to the mechanic not being used for every kill, you never get tired of its procedurally generated goodness – it’s V2’s trump card.
There are other flashes of brilliance like exploding vehicles by aiming for their red-capped fuel tanks, killing clusters of enemies by forcing grenades to explode prematurely and the distinctly Enemy at the Gates-inspired trope of timing shots with loud noises to remain hidden. Obviously some of these tricks push the boundries of believability to their limit, but this isn’t an experience that takes itself seriously.
As a regular third-person shooter Sniper Elite isn’t a genre-leader by any means, but if you take your time to approach levels from the thoughtful perspective intended rather than thinking it’s a shooter gallery, then you’ll have a good time. Rebellion has recently spoken of their new commitment to quality and Sniper Elite V2 certainly shows it. There are problems associated with visual polish and some clumsy mechanisms to fence players in, but for the most part this is a well rounded experience.
Admittidly the campaign is brief, but there’s also a bulky multiplayer component supporting both competitive and co-operative modes; including the ability to tackle the campaign with a friend. Adding another pair of eyeballs to these levels certainly dials up both the intensity and the AI griefing potential and in our experience at least the netcode seemed to hold up.
Sniper Elite V2 is a love letter to those absurd people who like to hang back and kill people from a comfortable distance and for that niche audience it certainly has its fair share of charms. Not a world changing game by any means, but one that’s certainly entertaining.
Snipers say hello to your new favourite game!
Tags: Sniper Elite V2
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