Also available on: PS3, Xbox 360 Developer:Rebellion Developments Publisher: Rebellion Developments, 505 Games Genre: Third-Person Shooter
Given how frequently new instalments in the Call of Duty and Battlefield series are churned out, there's a risk that the gaming world will soon grow tired of the military shooter. As enjoyable as these titles can be, some are starting to feel the genre is growing stale. Sniper Elite V2 is a game that could potentially set that right, offering a refreshingly tactical take on warfare simulation.
Rebellion Developments has strived to plant players directly in the shoes of a frontline sniper with this third-person shooter. It's all about moving around in the shadows, creating diversions and calculating the perfect shot down to the finest detail. The game will certainly find favour with those who value realism over arcade action, but it's not for everyone.
Sniper Elite V2 is essentially a reimagining of its 2005 predecessor, set within the same time frame, with a different spin on events. The game takes place in a battle-ravaged Berlin in the closing days of World War II, with players controlling a US officer dropped into the city to stop the Russians from poaching the Nazi's top scientists.
The storyline runs only surface-deep, though newsreel-style cut scenes and effective voice acting help capture the Zeitgeist of war-torn Europe. In-game backdrops aren't too shabby either. Those rubble-strewn streets and burnt out buildings look glorious at the higher resolutions, and are functional environments where gameplay is concerned.
Missions see players venture behind enemy lines on their lonesome, with only their wits and arsenal as allies. It starts out stealthy and tense as you creep by enemy patrols in search of a suitable vantage point to pick off your target from. Infiltration is a delicate game, and once your sniper's cover is blown, you're unlikely to last very long.
A submachine gun, a silenced pistol and a trusty sniper rifle are the tools of your trade, although other weapons can be picked up later on. There's also a range of explosives on offer that must be used tactically if you want to get out of war-torn Berlin alive. Trip mines can be affixed to the threshold of a doorway to cover your escape, while proximity mines are useful for booby trapping enemy corpses.
Every step you take and every bullet you fire must be carefully calculated in Sniper Elite V2. If you're not fleeing from the scene of an assassination, you'll either be crouch-walking or crawling along the ground since loud footsteps give away your position. This will certainly make the game a no-go for those who prefer swifter-paced action affairs, but as far as the stealth fans are concerned, it's an authentic experience.
Firing stray shots from cover to create a diversion usually pays dividends, as do shrewd takedowns with a silenced pistol bullet. The idea is to come and go like the wind, never giving away your location.
Infiltration is an integral part of the game, but the assassination set pieces are the meat of the experience. Finding the perfect spot to take aim from is only half the battle. There are a lot of variables to take into account when pulling off the perfect shot, such as distance, wind resistance, and even your rate of exhalation.
Pulling off an effective kill gives rise to an immense feeling of satisfaction, heightened by the bullet-cam depiction of your handiwork, which shows your target's internal organs being ruptured via an x-ray effect.
While these segments show off Sniper Elite V2 at its very best, they also highlight one of its biggest drawbacks. While enemy AI can be lethal if you blow your cover, its movement patterns and behaviour are thoroughly predictable. Picking them off from a safe distance is not unlike shooting fish in a barrel. Even on the higher difficulty settings where guard patrols will come at you in force, their attack strategy is enough to make one of Darth Vader's stormtroopers blush.
The solo campaign offers around 10 hours of gameplay, and can be played co-operatively online to pad it out further. A selection of multiplayer modes provides further mileage, along with some unique twists on the military shooter formula. Overwatch mode is the standout offering, casting one player in the role of a sniper providing support for a ground level companion as they complete a range of objectives.
In closing, Sniper Elite V2 does a lot of things right. The tactical components have been well thought out, despite predictable enemy AI upsetting the balance somewhat. Minor issues aside, headshot enthusiasts and stealth fans will find much to love here.