Ever wonder what it would be like to a sniper in World War II, before all of the high tech gear and the fancy technology? Well now you can find out, with the excellent game Sniper Elite V2. The game takes place during the same time period and in the same location as the first of the series Sniper Elite. In fact the, the second game is meant more as a remake than a true sequel. The game was released by Rebellion Developments for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3 in 2012.
This game takes place during the Battle of Berlin, similar to the first game, only this time the main character is after the developers of the V2 rocket, Germany’s secret weapon. You play as an American agent from the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). The game opens up in a tutorial where the goal is to assassinate Hans von Eisenberg, a general who was planning on defecting to the Soviets. Further missions involve going after different targets and collecting intelligence on the V2 rocket. The story is pretty simple, assassinate the targets and collect intelligence, and there is not an extensive list of missions because each one will take a fair amount of time to complete depending on your play style. The game is a tactical shooter and the missions are designed in a way to encourage stealth rather than running and gunning. The game provides with all of the necessary tools to do so, but often times their use still requires a certain element of skill. You are given WWII era weapons such as the SVD sniper rifle, the Thompson submachine gun, and the Welrod pistol, a silenced weapon for all of your stealthy needs and mischief. You are also equipped with landmines, trip wires and hand grenades for even more sneaky fun.
What I really loved about this game was the combination of stealth and shooter. The game was designed around being sneaky and it definitely behooved you to not go in guns blazing, the game provided you with alternatives if your plan failed. In many stealth games there is no alternative plan if you are caught sneaking around except starting the level over again. In Sniper Elite V2, the weapons you are provided with still allow you to win a gunfight should it come to that. Even in this though there was some skill and planning. Ammunition is limited and you can only find a few rounds lying here and there on dead soldiers. The AI was however a little predictable and could easily be outwitted, especially on lower difficulty settings. High settings had more violent AI and also required the player to account for wind and bullet drop.
Probably the most defining, and controversial, element of the game is the X-Ray killcam. After a skillful shot to regions such as the head, the neck, abdomen, chest, etc, the game would go into a slow motion shot of the bullet leaving the gun and then entering an anatomic cutaway of the target, showing the bullet rip through organs and shatter bones. This feature allows for some very disgusting but sometimes humorous times. On YouTube you can find numerous videos of certain WWII leaders from Germany taking very detailed shots to their masculinity. Many people thought that his made the game too gruesome and was too violent for kids to be playing. I personally think that this addition to this game was a wonderful aspect, though maybe not in the way many think. By adding this, honestly violent, feature it really shows how devastating guns can be. Most games show no real consequence for shooting something, but in this game it shows just how much damage a bullet can do.
The game was developed on the Asura engine and the visuals struck me as pretty impressive, though being as recent of a game that is was, they were a little limited. This was not a major concern as the gameplay was enough to keep me occupied. I enjoyed the playable environment and the detail of the bombed out city of Berlin. Even when walking into the houses to use them as cover, you caught a glimpse of the sudden violence that tore the city apart. Little family keepsakes laying on the floor and hanging on the wall show how the city was torn apart by the war. These little details are what really made the game for me.
I highly recommend this game to anyone who is a fan of the stealth genre. It is not as much of a stealth game as say Hitman or Splinter Cell, but with the incorporated shooter element, it balanced out rather well. Though it was only given mild reviews by many, I found it to be rather fun and would highly recommend it. It also has a certain replay value with the increasing difficulty and collectible objects throughout the game.