Sometimes you will face other skilled snipers or heavy machinegun posts and even armoured vehicles. Everything can die and to help you hit these more tricky targets there is a kind of ‘bullet time’ system. You have a heart meter that allows you to hold your breath while aiming down a scope, this slows time down a bit and also gives you a visual aid that helps to pinpoint where exactly your bullet will hit. If you run out of breath then you just have to wait for it to replenish.
When your shot does hit the target you are treated to a really nice kill cam scene. The bullet impacts an enemy and we go into an X-ray view where you can see the bullet shatter bones and puncturing organs. It really gives a bone crunching visceral satisfaction to the kill and it’s simply kick-ass cool. Teeth, brains, and even man-balls get visually exploded before your eyes and it will have you wincing at the screen in sick pleasure. Surprisingly it never gets old and is fun to watch every time… which is a lot!
Whether you decide to snipe stealthy or to just open fire like a worker gone Postal, picking off bad guys requires you to aim and kill quickly, then move position and resume killing. Stay in one place for too long and you are guaranteed to have a couple of gun tooting soldier’s right on top of you. Placing trip wire bombs or land mines is a good way of alarming you to when the enemy is getting too close to your position and as a final resort you can lob a few grenades and let loose on your pursuers with the machinegun – but then you will need to run and hide again or become Swiss cheese. Indeed sometimes the inconsistent AI gives enemies the ability to spot you from half a mile away, even though you are lying on the ground in a hidden spot. This can be a little annoying because you feel that you have a good safe place to snipe from and that someone would need to have gone to specsavers and gotten telescopic lenses to find you – yet the enemy regularly does. Despite that, it is still very satisfying to camp out and sneak about the place while picking off unsuspecting enemies, you really do feel like a Sniper as opposed to just another grunt with a gun.
Environments are great. Very realistic and they really set the scene of a war torn city. Rubble and burnt out houses provide lots of good camping positions and even the skies above are full of activity as bombers and anti aircraft fire battle it out. There is even one later level set in a train station that has suitcases full of clothes and other various debris from lives past littering the area. You will even find a few children’s dollies lying around – no prize for guessing what all this suggests. Detail like that is what makes this game so atmospheric and enjoyable and I can honestly say I relished every level I played through without exception.
When you are done with the Story mode there is a ‘Survival mode’ to jump into. This is basically a horde mode where round after round of enemies come after you increasing with difficulty each time. With limited equipment and ammo this becomes quite a challenge after the initial few rounds, but very enjoyable. There are a good selection of maps, most of which are from the single player campaign and it is a great way of getting in some practice, or to just have fun shooting Nazi’s in the balls – a nice addiction.
Multiplayer comes in two forms. Co-op – Which is the campaign experience shared with one other person and provides plenty of sharp shooting fun for you and your buddy. Then there is the online mode which contains two game types:
Bombing Run – Which has you and a pal sneak and kill AI enemies as you search the map for parts of a vehicle that will facilitate your escape. This is not bad but after a few goes there is little to entice you back for more.
Overwatch – One player is a sniper limited to the high ground and the other player takes on the roll of a sweeper that can tag enemies or set bombs among them. You must work together as a team to keep each other alive. There is plenty of amusement to be had here and will have you laughing and cursing in equal measure.
The PC version has an exclusive on the deathmatch and team deathmatch modes which we have not play tested but the general word seems to be that these modes have been a success and presents a game that campers will love as it is all about your sniping tactic.
In general the game looks nice, graphics are of a high standard generally and suit the World War 2 theme. Animations are solid and the overall look and feel of the game is good with the kill cam being particularly beautiful to watch. The sounds and effects are very authentic which further sells the experience. The echo of distant Nazis barking orders with bombs and planes all around cut only by the sound of your rifle releasing its deadly bullets really puts you into the game. There are some bugs and glitches along the way such as enemies getting stuck on a wall or sometimes appearing from their spawn point right in front of you – gives you a hell of a fright sometimes. The best one I have experienced was when a dead German soldier jiggled between some rocks and then he shot up into the sky, but these type of issues have an endearing quality and are sure to be addressed in future patches.
The control layout does take a bit of getting used to but once mastered it feels standard enough, with one exception. The ‘Search Body’ and ‘Pick up weapon’ functions are controlled by the same button. This leads to you picking up a weapon you don’t want while trying to pilfer a dead enemy, then you have to try and get back the gun you dropped and by the end of all your fussing about there is likely to be a soldier standing watching you, probably laughing at your incompetence before putting one in your head. Arg – Why? A small issue, but one that repeats itself for the whole of the game.
Sniper Elite V2 has a very comic book feel about it which is no surprise to fans of Rebellion games and warts aside it is a pleasing and immersing title. It can be highly challenging to downright impossible depending on the difficulty setting and it has some really fun achievements to be won on the Xbox and PS3 versions. Although it is not a marathon of a game (6-8 hours of play) it certainly has plenty to keep your attention even after the first play-through. If you don’t take it too seriously and you like to do a bit of sniping then this is truly worth a go and with some ‘Kill Hitler’ DLC available it makes the game even more attractive (GameStop offer this free with pre-orders). Sniper Elite V2 provides a nice change of pace from the usual shooty, gadgetry, perked up war games of the present and I found myself looking forward to coming back to continue my assault on the dirty Nazis and devious Ruskies. Whether you play this new or wait for the second hand sales it is definitely worth a go for anyone interested enough to have read this review, and hey – you can shoot baddies in the balls via X-ray vision. Who doesn’t want to do that, eh?
Available now on : Xbox 360, PS3 &PC