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Review: Sniper Elite V2
Did you play Sniper Elite from the last generation of consoles? It was ridiculously hard but very realistic. The game was lauded for its difficulty and authenticity to not only World War II Berlin but also the career of a sniper. One false move and your dead. If you didn’t set up your plan of attack or your escape route, you would be cornered and fail the mission. A sniper’s life is difficult, sneaky, and dangerous. It is not a job that I’d want for sure. You must be tactical in every inch of your operation or else you face death. Sniper Elite captured this almost perfectly. That was in 2005.
In 2012, Rebellion brings back Sniper Elite for another run in a remake that not only changes up the main character’s origin but also the story and objective. As Karl Fairnburne you are inserted into Berlin to find and kill the remaining scientists who were apart of the German V-2 Rocket Program. Countries had begun to bring some of these scientists over for their own work but a few have tried to seek safe harbor in unwanted territories. Karl must eliminate these scientists. Seem simple? A sniper’s mission normally has a simple objective. It is the mission itself that is never simple. This is where Sniper Elite shines.
The tutorial, which takes place in the beginning of the first mission, shows you how to travel quickly or stealthy, cover your exit points and escape route, booby trap bodies or areas, distract enemies, and kill. A great thing that the tutorial does is bring you right into the action. Once you’ve set everything up in the tutorial you’re immediately told that you must escape the Germans and head back through your planned route. This was a great way to set the pace of the upcoming missions and really give the player a sense of just what kind of dangers Karl will be facing.
The controls are very well done. Everything is set in a section of the keyboard that is easy to reach with your left hand. You won’t find yourself over reaching or arching fingers with discomfort. The ‘z’ and ‘x’ keys rotate your inventory located on the bottom right of your screen. The ‘f’ key uses the desired item. Some items will require you to hold the ‘f’ key in order to aim such as rocks or grenades. The ‘q’ key allows you to stick to cover and ‘c’ is crouch and prone (hold). Very simple controls but what they do best is keep the player in the action and in the game. There are no pull-up or pop-up menus in Sniper Elite V2. Everything is done in-game which gives you little time to try and salvage an opportunity if you’ve been spotted.
You have to be on your a-game here in Sniper Elite. You never know when you’ll turn a corner and find an enemy. Cover is very important. You can’t just go out and try and beat a mission as fast possible. Unfortunately that means you won’t be able to turn the game on and play for a bit before work unless you prepare for it. Some missions can take over thirty minutes to complete and even longer if you search for hidden gold bars and bottles to collect. The mission maps aren’t open but there is plenty to search. Open storefronts, destroyed houses, and more are housing collectibles and vantage points. Searching around can also help you find perfect hiding places to store bodies. You don’t want a sentry to come upon some of your handiwork.
Some times, however, you have to initiate combat and forego the sneakiness. You’ll still want to try and be hidden as you snipe out enemies patrolling your way forward. Moving around is important, too. A sniper never stays in one place for too long. You won’t be the only sniper on the map, either. Don’t just look around streets or storefronts for enemies. The rooftops and upper floors can be littered with people who are just as sneaky as you. Luckily, combat here in Sniper Elite V2 is very smooth and fluid. The only time you get slowed down is for the kill cam and you won’t get bored of it. Watching your carefully aimed shot penetrate an enemy’s skull and coming out the other end in an X-Ray-like perspective is just badass. The game chooses when to show you that type of kill cam or switch to two different suspenseful shots. You can either get the full-on experience with X-Ray or not, a cam from behind the enemy as the shot propels and hits, or a quick over-the-shoulder vantage shot that shows the carnage unfold from Karl’s perspective. These kill cams enhance the game as you feel like you really lined that shot up greatly. The achievements for shooting someone through the eye and things like that just want to make you try for trick shots and tough spots. Aspects like these really give the combat a fun feeling and a sense of accomplishment that helps you keep playing.
Combat shouldn’t be your first resort, however. Remember, you’re a sniper. You’re supposed be hidden in the shadows. That said, one of the things I didn’t like in Sniper Elite V2 was amount of health I had. I felt almost invincible unless a tank was shooting near me or I stayed in the line of fire for too long. It almost made combat too easy and nearly got rid of consequences. I took more damage from jumping down a flight of stairs then being shot almost 20 times from automatic rifles. You have to forget that and pretend you’re fragile to keep yourself from just heading out there with your machine gun and wrecking havoc on the last few enemies. You get more points with headshots and snipes then normal kills. I’m sure at Sniper Elite difficulty it isn’t like this. Any lower and you’ll feel like a superhero with a sniper rifle.
The graphics in Sniper Elites V2 look pretty good but textures can get muddy from time to time and take a bit to load up. I was running the game on default settings which has anti-aliasing at 4x and unless you were really looking for muddy graphics once everything loaded up it was pretty nice looking. The game does a great job at making you feel like you’re in Berlin and not just some city street with Nazi flags. You have plenty of options that change on the fly for display settings. The optimization of the game, however, leaves a bit to be desired. On my laptop which has a 2.2GHz Core i7 cpu, GT540m card, and 8gigs of RAM saw iffy performance with Sniper Elite V2. I had to resort to my desktop for play which runs with 3.0GHz x4 640 AMD cpu, a GTS 450 card, and 8 gigs of RAM which ran the default settings perfectly. Obviously if you have better specs you’re a-okay for higher settings. A bit less and you may run into the low settings or have a bit of trouble.
If you didn’t check out the original Sniper Elite, you’re in for a treat with V2. The game promotes patience and tactics while presenting the player with challenges and changing the parameters of the mission due to events during missions. It keeps you fresh and interested with great combat and a sense of accomplishment that makes you want to “play just one more mission”. You can easily lose sense of time in Sniper Elite V2 with how long missions can be and how fun they are. If you did play Sniper Elite back in 2005 but are thinking of picking up this rendition, be prepared for a sense of familiarity but a different story. You aren’t looking for nuclear secrets here. I’d say you’d be fine with picking up V2.
Sniper Elite V2 is out today, May 1st from Rebellion. Get your rifle and prepare for covert war, soldier.