Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
Some seven years after its original release, Rebellion’s World War II shooter returns, spruced up for modern consoles. Set in the dwindling days of the conflict, players take the position of elite sniper Lieutenant Karl Fairburne, dropped into Nazi territory on a mission to stop German scientists behind the development of the V-2 missile from defecting to Russia. However, this is far removed from the bullet-ridden shooting galleries that typically populate the genre, instead emphasising stealth, laying traps, and taking out enemies from a distance, one perfect shot at a time.
There’s a steady pace and tactical approach to each mission, as you skulk through ruins or shadowed landscapes, marking out enemy positions with your binoculars – the magnification of which doubles as a showcase of how well Rebellion has remastered the settings, with fine detail and scurrying counter-snipers clearly discernible from great distance – and finding the highest, safest vantage point from which to take them out.
Timing is everything, whether it’s taking out patrolling soldiers when they’re as far away from their allies as possible, or firing your sniper shots during background explosions so the sound doesn’t alert reinforcements. Up close, stealth kills can take out unsuspecting enemies, or shots from your handgun count, somewhat confusingly, as silent. While this can require considerable patience, once you get into the rhythm of the game, it does a great job of making you feel like an unstoppable, invisible force.
A welcome update to an old favourite.
As a remastering, this is top tier stuff. Settings are recreated with remarkable fidelity, from the bombed-out ruins of Berlin’s streets brought to life with posters, shops signs, and other details of lives abandoned, to the subterranean bunkers or train yards of the Nazi war machine whirring along with unsettling efficiency. It’s pretty enough to warrant the inclusion of a Photo Mode – de rigeur for any title wanting to showcase its looks, these days – and the ability to access this at any point by clicking in both thumbsticks is a nice touch.
V2 Remastered also packs in every bit of content from the 2012 version, including DLC missions such as the infamous ‘Kill Hitler’ campaign, while the series’ grisly-yet-satisfying Kill Cam returns. Showcasing in slow-motion the delivery of well-aimed bullets, accompanied by close-up x-rays of shattering bones and ruptured organs, it’s arguably utterly gratuitous but, with the focus on a single bullet’s destructive capability, really drives home the horror of war in a way many other titles can’t match.
Brand new content is mainly reserved for the multiplayer side – modes include the familiar Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and Dogtag Harvest, plus Distance King which tests your ranged scope snipe skills – which now support up to 16 players, while characters from Rebellion’s Zombie Army series are now playable in both multiplayer and campaign modes. Nice touches all, if not major additions.
However, the bells and whistles of its visual overhaul can’t change the fact that Sniper Elite V2 is almost a decade old. Accordingly, the campaign feels somewhat linear despite reasonably large maps, and rarely offers much challenge unless on the higher difficulties, which add increasingly realistic bullet physics to your shots. It also frustrates that there are no major melee options outside of stealth kills – as soon as you’re spotted, your only real option is shooting your way out, undermining the push for sneaky play.
A welcome update to an old favourite, brilliantly brought up to modern visual standards and with a smattering of new content, Sniper Elite V2 is only slightly let down by the unavoidable restrictions of its underlying skeleton.