Sniper Elite V2
Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: Rebellion Developments
Genre: Third Person Shooter / Stealth
Release Dates: 2 May 2012 (NA) / 4 May 2012 (EU)
Price: 19,99€ (Steam)
Meant to be a more stealthy approach on World War II than what we have previously seen in other games, Sniper Elite V2 puts you in the role of Lieutenant Karl Fairburne, an American OSS officer infiltrating the city of Berlin during the final weeks of WW2. Tasked with finding the locations of V-2 ballistic missiles and eliminating scientists involved in the project, the story jumps from one location and scene to the next one, losing the story context relatively fast since the mission briefing is your only connection to the plot, aside from the occasional cutscenes, but since there is no communication between Fairburne and the American army, the story that could've easily exploited the tragedies and sacrifices of WW2, quickly turns into a reckless rampage of Nazi and Red Army soldiers, with no sighting of allies anywhere near.
The campaign is made up of ten different missions, each taking you to new locations with different objectives, and while each map feels unique and by design forces you to try different strategies, it feels limited when it comes to freedom of choosing your own path and surprising your enemies, as each map has a predefined path that you should take, so even the best snipers will have a similar playthrough with everyone else, since you can't stray away from the given path, which in a game that focuses mainly on long distance sniping certainly comes as a disadvantage. The objective variety will help keep the monotony level to a minimum when you're concentrated on blowing up an entirely bridge or shooting a rocket as its about to take off, but those are things that are entertaining exactly once, so if you're looking forward to replay the campaign a second time, the outcome and playthrough will be mostly the same.
In addition to the campaign, there are three distinct Co-Op modes, starting with Kill Tally that is Sniper V2's take on Horde mode, tasking you and a partner with defending a location against multiple waves of enemies, Bombing Run in which you will have to collect engine parts from around the map and bring them back to the vehicle and Overwatch where one of the players assumes the role of Sniper, while the other one is the spotter; the catch here is that the sniper is stuck in a limited space on top floor of a building, while the spotter is down below on foot tasked with completing the objectives while the sniper covers him. While each mode feels distinct, they all suffer from the same problem, lack of content, as each mode is limited to only a few maps and objectives, and since the limited movement from the campaign is still present in here, there is little space for new strategies and techniques.
As a sniper shooting enemies from a distance while trying to remain undetected using background noises the game hits its high point, but unfortunately those sequences will often be interrupted by close-combat sequences, which doesn't work nearly as good. Sniping enemies from a church tower, adjusting position depending on wind and location feels great, especially since a successful shot will trigger a bullet cam that ends in an X-Ray vision showing you the damage you have inflicted on your opponent, but this will only last for a few minutes before some troops will start heading your way or you'll be tasked with moving to another location, moment when you have to switch to close combat techniques, whether it's using a pistol, melee executions or going loud with the machine gun.
The problem with close combat weapons is that they aren't as accurate as a sniper rifle and you are limited to a low number of bullets that you can carry at a time, so if you do decide to play those sections with the machine gun, you will eventually have to switch to a pistol until you find another weapon. Also, there aren't that many weapons available in the game as the pistol is assigned by default and you can't change it and there are only like three types of machine guns, making those close combat sections really boring after a while.
There are also the cases when the enemy AI will get stuck in the environment, run around in circles or spawn in an area that you just cleared out, resulting in a number of frustratingly unfair deaths. Playing alongside a friend makes it better since you can revive each other, making it fun to play continuously without caring much about strategy, but once again this is entertaining exactly once, as there will be nothing new the second time you come around.
Even by 2012 standards, when the game was originally released, there are some graphical limitations, as explosions feel outdated compared to what other games did in that period and the map is really limited to a point A to point B route, without any space for exploration and freedom of approach. Karl Fairburne himself looks great and the main targets that you're supposed to kill are more detailed than your average soldier, but for the most time you will have to look at the same cloned, badly animated Nazi soldiers and their weird, unnatural movement pattern.
Tom Clarke Hill did a great job voicing Lieutenant Karl Fairburne, but since the narration and story bits only focus on Karl himself, the rest of the enemies either have no voice or keep repeating the same thing over and over again. The sound effects on the other hand are fantastic, with explosion sounds that feel authentic and that genuine sound the sniper makes each time you shoot a bullet, too bad some of the visual effects that accompany those sounds aren't as good.
The campaign takes around 10 hours to complete, and you might want to consider replaying it once for the collectibles even with its movement and strategy limitations; on top of that the Co-Op modes are worth at least a try with a friend, even if they will get boring after an hour or so since there are only a few maps and fixed objectives. There is also a competitive multiplayer mode in the form of Death Match, but not many people play it to this day, so you might have some trouble finding enough players to try it out.
Despite its flaws and movement limitations, Sniper Elite V2 is still a fun game when played as a sniper, so if you like stealth sniping games this one is definitely worth a shot, but beware of the boring close-combat sections and limited multiplayer environments.