Saturday, 5 January 2013

Review: Sniper Elite V2 (PC)

Yes it's that time again where I review a game I picked up cheap from the steam winter sale.  I agree with many others that last years sale was pretty weak compared to the 2011 sale they did, which had a lot more to do and far more incentives.

Now I love world war 2 games of all sorts from miniature wargames, grand strategy, first person shooter, air combat, naval combat.  Basically name a genre outside of racing and kids edutainment and I enjoy it for WW2.

The enviromental lighting is top notch
Sniper Elite V2 is the spiritual successor to the original game with a more Hollywood style storyline and a fair few fantasy elements to it.  Sniper elite V2 puts you in the boots of Jack Hardgristle a OSS operative and quite possibly the greatest sniper in the world since he can make some pretty impossible shots in this game.  His mission is to infiltrate besieged Berlin near the wars end and either execute or retrieve several V-rocket scientists for the United States so they can use their expertise in the future.

Jack will have to contend with the dying Wehrmacht and the invading Russian hordes who also have a vested interest in the same group of scientists for their own nefarious plans.  The story is very basic and only exists to give the player a reason for visiting each map before he replaces the unfortunate guards eyeballs with bullets.  The characterisation is virtually zero so you could easily replace the protagonist with any number of characters who could hold a rifle and the games story wouldn't be any different.  Norman Wisdom sniping German infantry in a V2 rocket facility?  Doesn't matter.

The gameplay is a mix of stealth assassination and all out sniper warfare.  Sniper Elite really struggles with the concept of stealth sometimes though.  Sneaking around and slitting a sentries throat to make use of his guard post is a sound plan, but on some levels that's as far as your stealth combat goes.  After said throat ventilation the game becomes solid sniping action with every guard between you and the eastern front knowing where you are.  Some sections of levels will let you get away with sniping people and no one noticing by using loud speakers, artillery fire or thunder claps to mask the sniper sounds, but these can be few and far between.  I suppose it would be more unrealistic to think that everywhere you go there would be a convenient tannoy blasting out sound for you so it's swings and roundabouts really.

Tanks can be destroyed with a single shot to the fuel tank
The sniping though is very very good.  Taking time to lineup your shot and picking the best moment to pull the trigger almost turns into a grisly art form as you takedown the unwitting soldier who was having a cigarette while on guard duty.  The biggest selling point of the game is the X-Ray kill cam you have when you fire a particularly good shot.  Watching the bullet speed past soldiers in slow motion and into the eye socket of that sniper down the road is pretty satisfying in a frightening way.  Watching bits of skull shatter and the bullet travel out of the back of someones head never gets old and the game starts to challenge you to trickshot basically.  Eventually you will be firing shots that can kill 2 or even 3 at once with the right positioning.

It isn't all sniping though and this is where the game can become a little flat.  Shooting with your backup short range weapons feels weak and there is little feedback about the damage you are doing, and sometimes the damage can be inconsistent as bullets do less damage one minute but instantly kill the next.  Jack can equip a couple of backup weapons consisting of a sub machine gun and pistol.  With the DLC installed you can choose from a selection of SMG's such as the Thompson, STG44, PPSh 41.  While the pistols come in either silenced or freaking loud varieties.  You can also lay traps for sneaky enemies who try to flank you.  Tripwires and landmines can kill a small group if they stick close together while grenades come in handy when you want to get the drop on a group of enemies quickly.

Every level is very distinct and has a different style of play
The most weapon variety is the sniper rifles naturally.  Russian, American, German and with the DLC, Japanese and British rifles make appearances and all cater to a certain style of sniping.  Enfield's are great for larger engagements due to the 10 round clip, but suffer some range and accuracy drops over larger distances, while the SVT40 can fire repeatedly as a semi-automatic rifle with more power and range, but far less accurately.  It all becomes a matter of choice on the higher difficulties as more realistic ballistics come into play.

505GAMES have been quite smart with the difficulty here since playing on the lowest difficulty will basically mean if the centre of the crosshair is on the target you will hit.  Higher settings mean you have to begin to compensate for bullet drop, wind speed and distance before you fire.  It gives great replayability for those hardcore sniping fans.

After you have completed the singleplayer you can then play it all again with a friend in cooperative mode and then snipe each other in multiplayer.  If you enjoy camper matches between snipers then this game is for you.  The maps are very versatile and detailed giving plenty of sniping points to exploit as you play.  The community isn't large but it is there and games are regularly available.

Graphically Sniper Elite is pretty nice.  It isn't throwing up DX11 shapes like a real triple AAA darling like Far cry, but this game isn't aiming for top of the line graphics.  The environments look very realistic and nail the architecture and setting very well while the effects are still very good.  Weapon shots in slow motion show the muzzle flash bursting out of the barrel as the bullet whizzes toward it's target.  The X-Ray effect graphics are wincingly good and I dare you not to feel sorry for any poor bastard who takes a sniper round to balls.

X-Ray kills are as much a joy as they are ghoulish to watch
Sound effects are realistic and pretty genuine.  Every weapons sounds like it's real life counterpart and the dialogue is delivered in the native speakers language rather than the comical German and Russian voice overs some games use these days.  Jack's dialogue isn't exactly thrilling to listen to but it does the job while the rest of the English speaking cast are decent enough.  Musically the game draws from the sounds created for the medal of Honor franchise all those years ago, so orchestral strings for more dramatic encounters and forlorn trumpet solo's for the more sombre quiet moments of the game.

Sniper elite V2 isn't a game that aims for total accuracy or authenticity when it comes to the second world war but it is fun and entertaining, which is exactly what a game should be.  I sort of disagree with a running score tally for every kill and call bullshit on a stealth knife kill being worth a fraction of the points a sniper kill is worth but that's just me.  Buy this if you enjoy sniper games or world war 2 games it's good for the singleplayer and multiplayer, also the DLC allows you to shoot Hitler what more could you ask for?

SCORE: 7.8/10


sniper games said...

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Thadius Cole said...

Thanks for taking the time to comment Sniper games :)

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