I’m going to be honest, I really wanted to like Sniper Elite V2. I played the demo -- enjoyed the hell out of it -- and was giddy as a schoolgirl the day it came out. However, when the credits rolled I couldn't help feel nothing but disappointment. One of the few games that I let the hype get to me, that I let the demo determine how much I wanted it... Kudos to the developers who designed the demo because it did its job wonderfully.
On the surface it’s a run-of-the-mill World War II shooter; which is oddly nice to get back into given the wide array of modern-military types of video games, but below the surface this creature is far worse than a common run-of-the-mill World War II shooter. This creature is better known as a run-of-the-mill console shooter. What do I mean by this? I mean that the game is as generic as can be: if you played this game, then you’ve played every other third person shooter on the market that isn’t grand theft auto. I can’t help but draw comparison to the splinter cell series with cover-based stealth being the big push of the game. There are points in the game where it feels like I wasn’t even in a game with the word “sniper” in the title. Many of the missions took place inside destroyed buildings or bunkers deep underground; I can understand what the developers were going for, but when I spend most of my time using a silenced pistol submachine gun… I can’t help but feel a little cheated.
I couldn’t even begin to tell you what the plot is about other than what I know about history already: you’re trying to nab Nazi scientists for their rocket program and at some point in time a plot point from the film ’The Rock’ comes into play in some sort of Russian conspiracy; to which I responded with a giant sigh, put my head down, and then try to slog through the rest of the game as quickly as possible. I use the term slog solely because of level design and gameplay.
Levels progress in a very similar fashion: you go from point A to point B avoiding whatever faction happens to be in the level to find whatever designated Intel lead you need that will then tell you where to go; then there’s X person you need to kill/save and exfiltrate to point C after killing however many waves of enemies the game decides to throw at you. Every mission is like that, and halfway through the game I couldn’t help but think “dear God when is this going to be over”.
Gameplay has zero dynamic changes during the entirety of the game; it’s always wait for the loud noise to cover your shot, do a silent kill, do a silent takedown. As I mentioned earlier I can’t help but draw comparisons to the splinter cell series: from the stealth mechanic to the way the game indicates where the AI knows your last location ( pictured below).
With only five sniper rifles in the game, two of which are paid DLC, there is very little that changes when you’re sniping. I played on cadet for the campaign to try out guns; they do have a very realistic feel, yet on harder difficulties the guns don’t really change all that dramatically. It’s a shame too because the developers had such a huge field of weapons that they could choose from; honestly, who wouldn’t want to see a PTRS-41 tearing through enemy soldiers with the x-ray kill cam and dynamic gore physics. That was one of the biggest selling points of this game to me, and it is without a doubt the most satisfying part of the game, also probably the only reason why I slugged it out and beat the game in the end.
The audio is one of the only saving graces for this game, even with stereo speakers I was able to become enveloped in the world I was in. The musical score was a very classic string set like something you would hear in a Spielberg film, the only issue with it is that it is very inconsistent. At points, the audio forms a quick skirmish that will keep playing which makes you think there are more enemies in the area and a sense of paranoia sets in. On the other hand you have times when the music will cut off immediately and it is a little jarring when that happens because you’re not expecting it and just ends so sharply.
But no matter how good the audio is, the world around you still feels lifeless and dead; which is odd for a city with between 2.5 and 4 million people. There are many low points in the game where you can go without seeing anybody which is especially odd when there were also an additional 3 ½ million German and Russian soldiers in Berlin at the time. I understand the limitations of game engines but I shouldn’t be running into just one or two German platoons every level. That might just be one of those little nitpicky things I get, just like: why are the Germans wearing winter gear at the end of April/beginning of May.
As I said before I really wanted to like this game. It had the makings of an amazing game but it lacked a certain kind of polish, a certain shine to it that makes the game more fun rather than be irritating. There were a lot of missed opportunities from when the game was in development; it could be because of the time constraint or budget, I don’t know, I didn’t make the game. With the game left on a cliffhanger ending I really hope this game sells well enough that they make a sequel and get it right the next time around. With the game having been on sale throughout the Steam Summer Sale and the price quickly dropping since then, you have no reason not to get this game when it’s cheap; but, it is certainly not worth the full $60 retail release!