|2012-05-24||Xbox 360||Shooter||M (Mature)||Rebellion Developments / 505 Games|
Just a few years ago, the thought of another WWII era shooter might have caused rolling eyes and murmurs of cliches. In this recent era of modern war shooters however, taking a trip back to the 1940's is actually a refreshing breath of fresh air that becomes even more so when examining the war from the perspective of a lone sniper, sent into the heart of battle to silently wipe out key German and Russian figures. Such is the setup in 505's Sniper Elite V2.
Playing as a US sniper, the game sees you taking on individual missions across multiple varied locations with the overall goal being to kill top German scientists responsible for the building of the V2 missile, an incredibly modern and lethal weapon for the time that will be launched on London without your interference. Call of Duty this is not, as Sniper Elite V2 focuses much more on stealth and slow-but-steady advancement, rather than on fast-paced action.
In each level, you'll have a set of secondary goals to complete before ultimately reaching that level's climax (normally the elimination of a high-ranking individual).
Enemies tend to come in groups, but the ample cover and high perches available in each stage make the game much easier than other shooters simply by design. That being said, the game's easiest difficulty setting does allow for run-and-gun gameplay, but even that only lasts for so long as your backup machine gun and silenced pistol come with very little ammunition (in an effort to encourage more sniping).
Gunplay itself is fairly solid, with the different difficulty settings determining the amount of realistic bullet ballistics you'll encounter. While most sniping locations give you plenty of time to prepare a shot, you'll need to use that time wisely to determine the arc of a bullet's path, the effect of wind on the shot and even how shaky you'll become as you hold your breath before pulling the trigger (something called focus aim). It should also be noted that the AI is mostly clueless, sitting out in the open until you make a move (and even after, in most cases). The effect of breathing on your character's heart rate is a particularly interesting addition (although sometimes not a welcome one), as running and sprinting through environments will cause you to become winded and have to wait longer before using your focus aim again.
Arguably the most enjoyable part of Sniper Elite V2 is the X-Ray kill cam that appears when you successfully snipe a particularly difficult or lengthy shot, as the game will transition into slow motion and the realistic bone and organ anatomy of your victim will be shown as your bullet penetrates their flesh. You'll earn points for most shots you successfully complete, with more points being awarded for puncturing a major organ (including the eyes), making a headshot or simply sniping an enemy that's moving. Not only a gruesome visual, these instances come with realistic "meaty" sound effects as your bullets rip through skin and sinew.
For all of the good that can be said about Sniper Elite V2, the game's slow pace probably won't be every gamer's cup of tea. This is a game where deliberate actions matter, as alerting even one soldier to your presence can bring the entire army down upon you. You'll be able to set up traps for enemies using land mines or trip wires, but like most other secondary munitions, these are limited in quantity and shouldn't be relied upon during every encounter.
As is the case with real world snipers, Sniper Elite V2 forces you to become best friends with your rifle in order to survive and is a generally entertaining experience throughout. While the game quickly becomes repetitive and even a bit tedious in spots (when you must sit still, doing nothing, while waiting for your heart rate to lower or suffer from lowered accuracy), the overall formula is a nice change of pace from the over-the-top (read: mostly unrealistic) shooters that have flooded the marketplace over the last couple of a years.